David Pinto points to this Rob Neyer column in which Neyer defends George Steinbrenner from some recent carping. The Yankees’ busy winter, along with the Boss’ criticisms of Derek Jeter and Joe Torre, have brought out the nattering nabobs, some of whom have implied that the return of a high-profile Steinbrenner could lead to tough times for the Yankees. Neyer demurs, pointing out that the high-turmoil period of 1976-1981 was quite a successful one for the Bombers, while the team’s low point from 1989-1992 partly coincided with Steinbrenner’s forced absence from the game.
As a lifetime Yankee fan, I’m a bit conflicted here. It’s certainly true that the good times were turbulent. There were days when you were afraid to read the sports section for fear of hearing about another fight, pissing contest, personality conflict, and so on. The only thing that allowed you to keep your dignity in the face of snarky Mets fans was the winning. Once that stopped, and the Yankee wurlizter careened out of control amidst disposable pitching coaches and free agent flameouts, it was nearly enough to make you start following the professional bowling tour.
But through it all, you always knew that what Steinbrenner wanted more than anything was to win. So while I view his recent rumblings with more than a tad of trepidation, I’m still comforted by that thought. And let’s face it, his latest statements are downright calm compared to some of his prior outbursts. He hasn’t fired any coaches, he hasn’t personally sent any prospects back to the bush leagues, and he hasn’t tried to blackmail a star player. All in all, he seems to have mellowed a bit.
I wish I could have illustrated this piece with a picture of General Von Steingrabber, the caricature drawn by Bill Gallo of the Daily News, but my Googling failed to turn up a picture. I did get this nice feature article about Gallo and the General, which at least gives you a taste of it.