November 20, 2012 by Matt Musico
I read an interesting article on ESPN New York by Wallace Matthews detailing the eventual acquisition of a 49% of the YES Network by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Could this be some foreshadowing that the Steinbrenner family is preparing to sell their beloved Yankees? Even though they’re not trying to acquire 51% of the YES Network to keep it within their control and Murdoch has the opportunity to own 80% of the shares within the next five years, Hal Steinbrenner has deflected any rumors of the team being for sale.
Despite the denials of these rumors, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees have new owners soon. This sounds weird to say, and it’s likely that the late George Steinbrenner is rolling over in his grave about this. Since he purchased the team for $8 million back in 1973, he was able to bring what was a struggling franchise at the time, back to the top of the professional sports world with his “win at all costs” mentality. He loved the spotlight and never turned a microphone or camera away.
Since his passing in July 2010, both his sons (Hank and Hal) have been heading operations, with Hal having more control. The team stayed within the family, but this is a much different Yankees franchise than it used to be. We’re going to be watching the Bronx Bombers reducing their payroll from $210 million to $189 million by 2014 to escape having to pay the luxury tax. So, while plenty of teams will have more money to spend within the next few years due to the lucrative media deals, the team with the highest payroll is cutting costs. Could you ever imagine this happening if George was still alive? If he was still around, he’d probably be making a push for Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, or Josh Hamilton right now.
We’ve seen how uncomfortable Hal Steinbrenner is with microphones in his face and with the New York spotlight on, and these whispers of the team being sold isn’t new news. Although I hated how the Yankees continually bought players throughout the early 2000s and they were one of the main drivers in elevating player salaries out of control, I always respected how high George put winning on his priorities. It always seemed that he was first concerned with winning, then breathing. He was passionate about his team, and that passion spread to the fans who filled the seats of Yankee Stadium.
Times have changed now, and these are not the same Yankees anymore. Will it be a sad day if this potential sale actually comes to fruition? Absolutely. However, I think that the Yankees most of us 20- and 30-year-olds grew to either love or hate died the day George Steinbrenner had to relinquish his power on the organization. It’s nice to see his sons carry on the “family business,” but it’s clear to see neither one of them has the same passion their father held for the game of baseball and his beloved team.
Every fan deserves to have the ownership of their favorite team be willing to do anything they need to put a winner on the field. I’m not saying I want to see the Yankees start to hand out huge contracts again, but no one ever questioned what motivated George. I question the motivations for Hal, and for that reason, I think the team will be owned by someone else within the near future, and the Yankee fans deserve to once again have an owner willing to put it all on the line to win.