Monday, December 24, 2018

George Steinbrenner and the Ghost of Yankees Past Part III

This post was written on December 24, 2016. A lot has changed since these posts started being written, but unfortunately a lot has stayed the same as well. 


Every good trilogy needs a good ending. Well, I take that back. Back to the Future didn’t have a great ending and if you want to count the Karate Kid movies when they had a female Karate Kid as a trilogy then that didn’t have a good ending either. Hopefully this will have a great ending though as I conclude my trilogy to my series entitled “George Steinbrenner and the Ghost of Yankees Past.” Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy the story.

When we last checked in with Hal Steinbrenner he was left on Christmas morning with his head hanging in shame. The empire and the organization that his father had built was crumbling. The Yankees had missed the postseason again after an embarrassing show the season before that resulted in the team limping into the postseason only to get shutdown in the AL Wild Card Game and in years past heads would be preparing themselves to roll. Not this year, not this regime. Not the Hal regime. In the Hal regime money has become the main focus of the team and its owners and winning has taken a step back from it all. When it comes to Christmas time though the Yankees and their fans want a shiny new toy each and every year. Has Hal learned anything from the past two seasons and should Yankees fans around the world expect something big to wake up to tomorrow morning? Keep reading.

Set the scene once again. Hal Steinbrenner sitting in his huge office that we have all grown accustomed to seeing this time of year. Hal, sitting at his desk, is nodding off as he shuffles through miscellaneous paperwork and reads through various emails when an all too familiar face appears behind him, George Steinbrenner. George Steinbrenner, the Ghost of Yankees past. Hal looks over at his father with a look that suggests he halfway expected to see his father show up at any time and he barely even acknowledges that there is a ghost standing beside his desk that is about three times the size that it should be. Hal looks over at his father with a sarcastic grin and asks “What did I do this time?” Without saying a word the two are off on another adventure that should last through the night and into the wee hours of the morning. Hopefully this time Hal and George can beat Santa Claus home.

The first stop on the magic adventure is back to the Burch house and to the home of the owner of The Greedy Pinstripes, Daniel Burch. The duo didn’t have to go too far back in time for this one, earlier in the same week Daniel was sitting at his desk frustrated, stressed out and trying to hammer out an apology letter to his readers, subscribers, friends and family about his lack of a presence on the site lately. Daniel had grown frustrated with the whole ordeal and with life and even typing out something from his heart had become troublesome. This was weird for Daniel as he has been able to pump out content left and right for the better part of four or five seasons now. You know what though? That’s not because of anything the Yankees, and specifically Hal Steinbrenner, had done for once. As Hal watches Daniel struggle through the article there is a flash the two flash back to the 2016 season where a much happier, less frustrated, Daniel is sitting in the same spot still violently typing away at 70-some words a minute. Instead of that discouraged look on his face the blog owner has a smile. Why? The Yankees have recently traded away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for top prospects while Dillon Tate and others were being fitted for uniforms after Carlos Beltran had also been traded. Gary Sanchez was getting the bulk of the playing time behind the dish for the Yankees and the youth movement was in full effect. The Yankees were out of the playoff race by the time the calendar changed to September but Daniel knew brighter, and much better days, were to come.

George smiled at the sight and that scared Hal. Hal wondered in his head, but wouldn’t dare say it out loud, why his father was happy that the Yankees were going through a youth movement, trading away veteran pieces and about to miss the playoffs again. He didn’t dare ask and before he even could anyway his father had swept him away to the second house on their tour. The house of the Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

It’s the Hot Stove season and despite Cashman declaring that the Yankees “heavy lifting” was over after acquiring Aroldis Chapman and Matt Holliday the Yankees GM was still working the phones and fielding calls, even on Christmas Eve. It’s unclear what GM that Cashman was speaking to or what player or players could potentially be traded in the deal but the discussion ends abruptly when Cashman is overheard saying “no deal” before quickly hanging up the phone. Hal didn’t catch the entire discussion but he did specifically hear the names Luis Severino, Clint Frazier and Jorge Mateo uttered. George looks at his son and tries to fill him in with his eyes, as George has still yet to say a word on the evening, but before he can the flash reappears and the two go back in time once again to sometime in the mid-2000’s. Cashman and George are sitting in an office having a heated discussion over control. Cashman wants more power and wants at least the power of the other 29 general managers around Major League Baseball while George wants it done “his way.” Phrases like “he’s just a prospect” and “trade ‘em all!!” are uttered before Cashman storms out of the room angrily. Again, back in the same office as before, Cashman is back on the phone with another GM but the mood is much lighter this time. Cashman is seemingly in the positon of need and not in the positon of power in this deal and simply asks the unnamed GM to “name his price.” Cashman agrees and hangs up after a “thank you, and great doing business with you” and the deal is announced. The Yankees have acquired another superstar for prospects, the farm system is barren and Cashman is once again unhappy.

George still doesn’t speak as they flash back into the present, Cashman still sitting in his office looking at his computer. He’s likely reading The Greedy Pinstripes blog for ideas but neither George nor Hal can see his screen, just his concentrating face. This time George says, again with his eyes, that maybe this was not the best way to handle that situation. George knows that he handled the situation poorly and by the time he had tried to rectify it he was too late in his life for the scars to heal and the feelings to be mended. George’s biggest regret, presumably, was leaving the world with people still disgusted by the mention of his name. George wanted to be loved by all and wanted nothing more to win, and sometimes the two don’t go hand-in-hand. George knows that now and by the look on Brian Cashman’s face he may know that now as well. Cashman wanted to keep two of his top five prospects plus Luis Severino and he did despite the fact that this deal would make the team an immediate contender for a postseason spot in 2016. It’s Cashman’s world now though and the tyrant is long gone. Austerity, youth and the future now control the lay of the land in the Bronx.

Hal is still confused as to what his father is trying to show him but before he could even think of asking the two are swept away to the third and final stop on their journey for the evening. As the two fly into the house of Ken Hans the world as they know it begins to erupt. One minute they are in Ken’s house, the next they are in patrick (always with a little “p”) Walsh’s house, then Ken Reed’s house, then Daryl “he who have no last name’s” house, then Jeff Levin’s house, then Kip Raymo’s house and the so on and so forth. The duo spent just a few minutes in each house getting just a glimpse what they were doing in each before being shifted away with another bright flash. Some were happy with the direction of the team, some were still angry with the direction of the team or they felt like what the team had done was inadequate and one in particular just wanted to see one last World Series title before the good lord took him home. Screams of “This is a $3.4 billion franchise” and “Yay we got Chapman” and “Dammit I’m too old for this” ring out as the flashes increase in speed and brightness until everything goes white….

George finally speaks.

“Son, do you know why I brought you to these specific places and showed you these specific lives and stories?” Before Hal could answer George, in a way only George knows how, continued to speak as if the question was rhetorical. “I took you to Daniel Burch’s house because the young man is frustrated now but he is happy overall in what you’ve done. You’ve committed to a youth movement, even on the fly, after years of begging from him and I think he has a voice that many Yankees fans can relate to. Despite not seeing a youth movement in my entire time as the Yankees owner I have to say that losing for a season or two will be a flash of someone’s memory if and when the team creates another dynasty. Well done on that front.”

George continues.

“I was never the best human being but my heart was always in the right place and I think, well more so I hope, people knew that and accepted that in my final days. When I demanded things of my managers, my general managers, my employees, my players, my family and friends it was always out of a good place in my heart. Good plan, bad execution is what I always used to say and unfortunately it was a motto that I could live by. I treated people like crap, son. People didn’t adore me like I thought they did, not until after I calmed down and after I was gone. They were scared of me. They hated me. You have a long way to go to win over the fans, the toughest fans in the world to win over, but you’ve done well with Cashman I think. I can tell.”

And George concludes.

"Hal, I couldn't be more proud of you. I take that back, I could be more proud of you. You've done a lot of good things for this team, the fans and the organization in your short time calling the shots but there are also a lot of things you still haven't quite grasped yet. Ticket prices are too high. You've run the families out of the stadium and most of the Bleacher Creatures including Bald Vinny Milano. You can't print tickets at home anymore and it's no longer fun or feasible to take the family out to the ballpark a couple times a week just to watch the Yankees play no matter who the opponent was. No matter what we're still the New York Yankees, dammit. We are a $3.4 billion franchise, no scratch that. We are a $3.4 billion EMPIRE. Start acting like it Hal!!!!"

As soon as George finishes his sentence he's gone. Another flash. Hal is back in his office and it's one minute before midnight. As the clock strikes 12 it is officially Christmas Day 2016. Hal decides to finish off a glass of wine and head to bed but not before he sends out a text message to Brian Cashman, his GM. It reads "Merry Christmas Brian, best wishes from your friend Hal. Also, and no this is not the egg nog talking, we need to talk on Monday. It's time to start acting like the Yankees again. Hope you're well. - Hal."

The scene fades out from Hal as he enters his bed for a slumber and fades into a close up on George Steinbrenner and the Ghost of Yankees past....

"I'm George Steinbrenner after all, you didn't think this was going to be ALL good... did you?"

Merry Christmas everyone! And if you don't celebrate happy holidays or happy Saturday for you as well! Hope everyone has a great day, stay safe out there. Much love.

Daniel Burch

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)