Say what you will about George Steinbrenner (that he ruined baseball with his spending, he’s a jackass, etc) but the fact remains that he paid the price to field a winning product.
In today’s game, with revenue sharing profit models such as the Marlins, Pirates, Indians, etc and teams holding down premium talent (rightfully so, but still…) in de-facto Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg and Indians current #3 hitter Carlos Santana, an owner that put his money on the field has to be respected to some degree.
With friendship status and insider access, New York sportswriter Bill Madden has written an entertaining study on George Steinbrenner’s reign in the baseball world.
I wouldn’t necessarily call the book a biography, it’s more of a tabloid style account of Steinbrenner’s baseball life, featuring numerous wild stories and inside gossip, while coming up short on life outside of baseball. (for example, the births of his various children are presented as an afterthought mid-way through the book).
Nothing groundbreaking regarding George (outside of his philanthropy to various charities) is presented. Past opinions are ultimately confirmed: He’s a media whore that spends what is needed to win. George had the foresight and personnel to take advantage of the media juggernaut in NY (in print, radio, advertising and television) that helped finance his spending sprees and increased overall franchise value. He butted heads with whomever resided in the commissioners office. At times he trusted outside sources and his gut instead of hard facts. And he had numerous, sometimes comical run-ins and demands for his numerous managers.
Again, nothing new, although the tabloid fashion in which the material is presented makes rehashing history an enjoyable experience.
At the end of the day the book delivers on its promise. It’s a light, entertaining read (even at 450+ pages) that sheds light on what it must have been like to be a Yankees fan from the mid-70′s to present day.