Monday, December 10, 2018

George Steinbrenner Snubbed Again

For decades, some sort of committee has been in place to consider players, team execs and managers who were not elected to baseball's Hall Of Fame via the sports writers' vote. The latest iteration of those committees is called the "Today's Game" committee. This committee's results are in and are hardly inspiring. Harold Baines was elected and should not have been. Lee Smith was elected and teeter-totters on the fence at face value and George Steinbrenner received less than four votes out of sixteen. Say what!?

George Steinbrenner bought baseball's most glittering franchise (with partners) for $10 million, a low figure because CBS had run the team into the ground. His tenacity, ferocity and controversial reign took a shabby franchise and made it the glittering jewel of all sport teams.

There is some understanding of why people would not vote for him. There were the suspensions from baseball. Steinbrenner was bombastic and disliked my many. His treatment of Dave Winfield was particularly odious. There are many stories about his terrible treatment of employees. There was a lot to dislike. But look, if Tom Yawkey is a Hall Of Fame owner, Steinbrenner should be too.

Steinbrenner defined a baseball era. George Steinbrenner was the first to exploit the free agent market. He was the first to spend big money to win. He dominated the news to such an extent that baseball and the Yankees were hot topics. He did not just raise the status of the New York Yankees. His success in building the franchise value rubbed off on all baseball franchises around Major League Baseball.

Baseball players owe Steinbrenner a debt for raising their value. Teams own Steinbrenner a debt for raising the value of their own franchises. That sounds like someone whose contributions should be remembered and enshrined.

The biggest thing about whether Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame is this: You cannot discuss Major League baseball from the 1970s to the 1990s without mentioning George Steinbrenner in the narrative. It does not matter if he was mouthy, arrogant and did some bad things (among many good ones). What matters was that he mattered. He mattered a great deal.

Not having George Steinbrenner in the Hall Of Fame along with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds defeats the purpose of having a Hall of Fame. If making a moral stand dilutes the narrative of people who defined their eras, then just tear the whole thing down.

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