Saturday, July 17, 2010

Disregard the whole Steinbrenner thing

The truth of the matter is that I loathe the man, and I'm not gonna invest the X-amount of physical and emotional energy required to paint the guy and then watch a bunch of sycophants write love notes to what I believe to be a miserable shit.
Brief aside: Don't get me wrong, now. I like the Yankees. Particularly the Jeter/Posada grouping. As much, at least, as a Mets fan can summon fondness for the Yankees. So it's not the team I loathe; it's the owner.
Funny how player reactions differ based on era. The Bronx Zoo guys could barely come up with anything nice to say about him. Even Donny Baseball himself looked conflicted. In lieu of substantive commentary they all said something like "Winning was everything to him." Which is a pretty hollow thing to have written on one's tombstone. Jeter, on the other hand, loved the guy. But what did you expect? The post-banishment, mellowing-in-old-age-driven public relations campaign had kicked in by the time he emerged from the farms.

I'm reminded of my now-dead friend John Bailey and the long lunches we used to have in the table by the window near the hostess stand at the Gramercy Tavern, eating their roasted beet salad with goat cheese, sucking down raw oysters with mignonette, drinking flinty white wine and staring out at rainy winter afternoons. Thank God Johnny's company was paying.

One day, perhaps a few too many flinty white wines into the process, we wrestled with what we wanted written on our tombstones. Mine went undetermined. Because I remain a work in progress. But we decided John's, (to universal acclaim, including the hostess) was to read "That Boy Could Sure Eat Some Beets."

Which, regardless, is a hell of a lot better than "Winning was everything to him." John Wooden, by the way, won more championships at UCLA than the Steinbrenner era Yankees did and he, apparently, was a pretty okay guy. A peach of a man, actually.

Steinbrenner, on the other hand, was, as noted above, a shit. Back in the good old days, if you pissed him off but you were, for one reason or another, too valuable to the team to fire (or had a guaranteed contract), he'd just fire your long-time secretary. Or your third base coach (who happened to be your best friend). Etc. His treatment of Martin (a pathetic wreck of a man) was legitimately sadistic. Etc.

Reggie Jackson had a great quote about Steinbrenner and Martin, respectively. "One's a rat," he explained, "and the other one's a mouse studying to be a rat." Ouch.

It is possible that Adolph Hitler, in some alternative universe, might have conquered Europe, called it a day and grown to a ripe old age drinking beer in whatever Germany's version of Tampa is. And there, no doubt, would be plenty of people at his funeral who would say nice things about the man; how he'd mellowed with age; that winning was everything to him (and who doesn't like a winner?).

But that, dear reader, would not excuse all the unpleasant stuff.

So I ain't painting Steinbrenner.

I am, however, painting Obama.


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