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Should Steinbrenner Be In The HOF?

Old 07-07-04, 11:25 AM
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Should Steinbrenner Be In The HOF?

Interesting article over at SI.com about whether George Steinbrenner will some day be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Boss turned 74 on Sunday -- July 4 -- and isn't planning to retire anytime soon. Even so, here's an interesting question to ponder: Will George Steinbrenner, one of the most revered and reviled characters in the history of sport, eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Steinbrenner isn't campaigning for the nod, which makes wonderful sense because in his age class -- 65 and over -- owners and executives have to be at least six months removed from the game to be considered by the Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans. And until he takes his last breath, bank on Steinbrenner lurking around as principal owner of his pride and joy, the New York Yankees.

But should a plaque of the bombastic owner, chest pompously puffed, hang in Cooperstown someday? Damn right.

The Hall of Fame is home to 23 executives/pioneers, a list that includes owners such as Tom Yawkey (Red Sox), Charlie Comiskey (White Sox), Clark Griffith (Senators) and Bill Veeck (Indians, Browns, White Sox). Among today's owners, there isn't a soul who comes close to the influence -- good or bad -- Steinbrenner has had over the game for three decades running.

Other contemporaries who you can rightly argue deserve consideration, for differing reasons, include Walter O'Malley (Dodgers), Charlie Finley (A's) and Augie Busch (Cardinals). And when it comes to front-office types, heck, no one more profoundly influenced the game than union boss Marvin Miller.

But Steinbrenner, who pulled together a group of investors to buy the Yankees from CBS in 1973 for $10 million, is the instantly recognizable name among a growing cast of corporate execs. That is, unless you count conflicted commissioner Bud Selig, absentee owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.

"One of criteria or rules of thumb that baseball writers talk about using is, can you talk about the history of baseball without mentioning this guy?" offers John Odell, the Baseball Hall of Fame's curator of history and research. "And it would seem very hard to talk about the history of baseball for the past 25 years or so and not mention George Steinbrenner. Like him or dislike him, but he has certainly influenced and impacted the game. If you want to talk about baseball from the management side of things and talk about free agents, you can't not talk about George Steinbrenner. And free agency is what is driving the game today."

We're not talking sainthood for Steinbrenner, though. Steinbrenner has been cast as a baseball version of Darth Vader, and perhaps rightly so. He has feuded with rival owners and clubs (see: Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino) and dug into his filthy-rich war chest to buy up the game's best players. And lest we forget, the Boss is a convicted felon (illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign) and twice suspended from the game (the felony charge and in 1990 for paying gambler Howard Spira $40,000 to dig up dirt on Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield).

All that said, his teams win big. And the Yankees are arguably the most attractive name in sports, the baseball franchise that gets the juices flowing, love 'em or hate 'em. The team that writes headlines, puts fannies in the seats on the road and helps carry the game.

Steinbrenner has restored pride to the Yankees, with his club winning 10 American League pennants -- including six of the past eight -- and six World Series championships. The Yankees are on track to play before more than 7 million fans this season, which would make them the most watched team in history.

We ran the Steinbrenner for Cooperstown idea by an old foe of his, 1999 HOF inductee George Brett. A child of the West Coast, Brett was surprised to learn O'Malley, who brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles, isn't in the Hall of Fame. But given the other owners gracing the halls of Cooperstown, he'd definitely cast a vote for Steinbrenner.

That's a huge concession for Brett, who played his entire career in a Kansas City Royals uniform and has a burning hatred for anything Yankees after losing three consecutive American League Championship Series to them from 1976-78. "Even today, if the Royals win six games all year, if they're going to go 6-156, I hope they beat the Yankees six times," says Brett, Royals' vice president for baseball operations.

What separates Steinbrenner from rival owners, other than a payroll approaching $200 million, is a bully-like obsession with coming out on top. He'll do most anything to field a winner, whether throwing a goofy wad of cash at a player or extracting the head of an underling. (That said, he hasn't fired a manager since hiring Joe Torre in 1995.)

Brett caught a glimpse of Steinbrenner's intensity at a small dinner party a few years ago. Though not a close personal friend of his, Brett ended up sitting across the table from the Boss, politely trying to carry on a conversation.

"A flower arrangement was directly in our view, so we were doing the old Caddyshack routine, bending our heads back and forth around the lamp, but we were doing it around the flowers," recalls Brett, laughing at the memory. "So I got up and I moved the flower arrangement over just a little bit and we continued our conversation. And when the conversation was over, he moved the flower thing back. So then we do the Caddyshack deal again, bobbing heads, trying to talk.

"And I said, 'Why did you move the flower pot back?' And he said, 'Well, I don't want to look at you.' I said, 'What are you talking about, you don't want to look at me.' He says, 'You beat the Yankees too many times.' I said, 'George, wait a second, let me ask you a question. You guys won in '76. You guys won in '77. You guys won in '78. We won in 1980. That is one out of four. I think if anybody should have moved them back it should have been me.' And he said, 'No, you beating us one time is one time too many.'

"He was serious. And then that was it. That is the way he is. It is win at all costs."

Sounds like Hall of Fame material.
So what do you think? Someday, when he is gone from baseball, should George Steinbrenner be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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Old 07-07-04, 11:28 AM
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I think I'm gonna puke.
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Old 07-07-04, 11:40 AM
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yes, in an age where sports owners are more concerned about making a profit than fielding a winning team, owners like George Steinbrenner and Mark Cuban need to be recognized.
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Old 07-07-04, 11:45 AM
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He was a huge part of the change in baseball - economically - in the 1970s and now in the 21st century. Yes, I would vote for him. HOF doesn't imply that the person was nice and well-liked.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:02 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
He was a huge part of the change in baseball - economically - in the 1970s and now in the 21st century. Yes, I would vote for him. HOF doesn't imply that the person was nice and well-liked.
I can't believe I'm saying this,, but this is true; I'd vote for him too.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
He was a huge part of the change in baseball - economically - in the 1970s and now in the 21st century.
And this is a good thing?
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Old 07-07-04, 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by El Scorcho
And this is a good thing?

Not necessarily. As I said, to be in the HOF does not automatically imply that you did good things. Let's face it, George Steinbrenner is probably the most famous owner in professional sports history. He has been as big a part of MLB as anyone over the last 30 years.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:35 PM
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Hell yeah.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:38 PM
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Originally posted by chrisih8u
I think I'm gonna puke.
Why does this not surprise anyone?
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Old 07-07-04, 12:41 PM
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The Hall of Fame in and of itself has always been a misnomer. It should have always been named the Hall of Achievement (or some other catchy name that indicates achievement over fame).

He is the most famous owner, for sure. But can anyone outside of the Bronx say that he has improved baseball? If so, just how did he improve it?

I'd just like to see people in the hall of fame that had a vested interest in improving the game as a whole and not just making his pocketbook and his team better.

Of course, this is all a utopic vision.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:42 PM
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He belongs in the Hall of Fat- hell no he's ruined baseballl, with help from Bud Selig
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Old 07-07-04, 12:43 PM
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Originally posted by El Scorcho
The Hall of Fame in and of itself has always been a misnomer. It should have always been named the Hall of Achievement (or some other catchy name that indicates achievement over fame).

He is the most famous owner, for sure. But can anyone outside of the Bronx say that he has improved baseball? If so, just how did he improve it?

I'd just like to see people in the hall of fame that had a vested interest in improving the game as a whole and not just making his pocketbook and his team better.

Of course, this is all a utopic vision.

Well that's not what they called it, so my criteria is based on fame. Obviously, the best route to fame (that is Hall-worthy) is superior achievement. There are other owners in the Hall now. I dislike Big Stein, but I recognize that he has been one of the most famous figures in baseball in my lifetime. That earns him my vote - if I had one.

Last edited by Red Dog; 07-07-04 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:46 PM
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Originally posted by Canadian Bacon
He belongs in the Hall of Fat- hell no he's ruined baseballl, with help from Bud Selig

Yeah if you want someone who is truly ruining baseball, one can point toward Budinski.


I'm curious about the hatred for Big Stein. Are people mad at him for his spending? Blame the system, not him. Would you rather have him pocket all those profits (and get really fat) instead of putting it back into the team?
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Old 07-07-04, 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
Well that's not what they called it, so my criteria is based on fame. Obviously, the best route to fame (that is Hall-worthy) is superior achievement. There are other owners in the Hall now. I dislike Big Stein, but I recognize that he has been one of the most famous figures in baseball in my lifetime. That earns him my vote - if I had one.
So Bill Buckner should be a HOFer too?

What about Mario Mendoza? He was so famous that he had a batting average threshold named after him!

Darryl Strawberry was pretty famous too.
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Old 07-07-04, 12:50 PM
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Originally posted by El Scorcho
So Bill Buckner should be a HOFer too?

What about Mario Mendoza? He was so famous that he had a batting average threshold named after him!

Darryl Strawberry was pretty famous too.

A single famous incident is not enough. Straw's fame has little to do with the game of baseball.


Question for the no voters: Should any owners be eligible?
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Old 07-07-04, 12:51 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
I'm curious about the hatred for Big Stein. Are people mad at him for his spending? Blame the system, not him. Would you rather have him pocket all those profits (and get really fat) instead of putting it back into the team?
Would you put Jerry Jones in the football HOF? Or Jerry Buss in the Basketball HOF?
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Old 07-07-04, 12:52 PM
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Originally posted by The Cow
Would you put Jerry Jones in the football HOF? Or Jerry Buss in the Basketball HOF?

Jerry Buss? Yes. Jerry Jones? No.


Note: I assume that Buss has owned the Lakers for 25+ years, correct?
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Old 07-07-04, 01:13 PM
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It's tough to say if any owners should belong in the baseball HOF since most "owners" aren't individuals anymore but instead are corporations.
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Old 07-07-04, 01:15 PM
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As long as they are putting owners in there - then he deserves to be there.
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Old 07-07-04, 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by El Scorcho
It's tough to say if any owners should belong in the baseball HOF since most "owners" aren't individuals anymore but instead are corporations.

Down the road, certainly a valid argument. However, there are owners currently in the Hall (I for one cannot figure out why Clark Griffith is in there).
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Old 07-07-04, 01:43 PM
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Originally posted by Quake1028
Why does this not surprise anyone?
Well, I dont think Tom Yawkey deserves to be in either.
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Old 07-07-04, 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog



I'm curious about the hatred for Big Stein. Are people mad at him for his spending? Blame the system, not him. Would you rather have him pocket all those profits (and get really fat) instead of putting it back into the team?
I dont blame him for spending the money. Id be pissed if the Red Sox spent $20 million on the team with all the revenue they bring in. I dont think Steinbenner should be in the HOF because he didnt do anything great. Give me all the money he makes, and Id put together some great teams, too.
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Old 07-07-04, 01:49 PM
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Originally posted by chrisih8u
I dont blame him for spending the money. Id be pissed if the Red Sox spent $20 million on the team with all the revenue they bring in. I dont think Steinbenner should be in the HOF because he didnt do anything great. Give me all the money he makes, and Id put together some great teams, too.

His teams have won 6 WS in the last 27 years, due in large part to lure free agents and hire the right people to run the club and the farm system - yes, due to money. They have 10 A.L. pennants in that same time. Nobody else is close. Furthermore, again, it is not the Hall of Greatness.
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Old 07-07-04, 02:20 PM
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As much as I despise him, I believe he belongs in the HOF.
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Old 07-07-04, 02:47 PM
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I voted no, but I think that was more of a knee jerk reaction. Now I'm on the undecided fence.

Question though, what has George done for the game of baseball? He's fielded a winning team for many years and done a great job of marketing that success into a popular and hated team. But what has he done? It seems that if George is in the HoF, someone like Jerry Jones deserves to be in the football HoF since he's done basically the same thing, only without the time length. It seems to me that paying for a winning and popular team might not be enough though.

I'm not sure why Yawkey, Commiskey and Griffith are in the hall of fame, but I would assume that they greatly helped the spread of baseball during it's formative years as the national pasttime. I do know why Veeck is enshrined as he was a visionary, an insane promoter and possibly the craziest individual to ever own a team. I'm all for his (and probably the other three's) enshrinement. I think to get in the HoF as an owner you need to do more for the game. Whether you think George is ruining baseball or not he's certainly done everything he can for his team, I'm just not sure that's enough to qualify.
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