Every time a New York columnist has nothing new or original to say about the Yankees, he or she will write an “if The Boss was still alive” column, channeling the glory days of George Steinbrenner for some easy, lazy fodder. It is important to note that the people who do this tend to be writers whose own glory days happen to correspond with those of George Steinbrenner. Here at HardballTalk, we chronicle this meme in an effort to protect the legacy and memory of the dearly departed. Or something.
Bill Madden of the Daily News knows just what The Boss would do if he was alive for this latest A-Rod business:
If George were alive, you can be sure he would be doing everything in his power to get retribution for the $275 million contract A-Rod signed with the Yankees under false pretenses in 2007 — as well as for everything he has done to besmirch and embarrass the Yankees.
Which is amazing considering George did exactly that once. Except the player was Dave Winfield, the contract was a lot smaller and “everything in his power” included hiring a scumbag to dig up dirt on Winfield on an effort to void his deal. For his troubles, Steinbrenner was banned for life from running the Yankees. You can say what you want about George Steinbrenner, but you can’t say he was a dumb man. I feel like, if an 84-year-old George Steinbrenner was still in charge, he maybe would’ve realized that doing something different was in order. But what do I know?
Also rich from Madden is this:
Even though it was probably a long shot given the sacrosanct nature of guaranteed major league contracts, I never understood why the Yankees didn’t at least broach the prospect with MLB of getting the contract voided when, six months after signing the 10-year deal — which included all those bonus clauses for various home run milestones en route to A-Rod someday surpassing Barry Bonds as the supposed “clean” all-time home run champion — he admitted to having used steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers.
Saying he doesn’t understand why the Yankees didn’t try to void A-Rod’s contract in 2009 is a brave admission of ignorance on Madden’s part. Most baseball writers would hide the fact that they do not fully know why a team didn’t do something that (a) was legally impossible; (b) would be massively expensive and distracting; and (c) would, at the time, be profoundly contrary to their team’s interests. But Madden is brave in this regard. I hope such bravery catches on. Perhaps we’ll then have political reporters saying they don’t understand why there can’t be a presidential election in 2015 and science reporters saying they don’t understand why the sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth.
Part of me wishes that a Spink Award-winning lead baseball columnist of one of the largest daily newspapers in the country would actually put a controversy in its proper context and explain to readers the realities, challenges and consequences of a given situation. But another part of me is glad he doesn’t do that. Because if he did, we’d have one less running feature here at HardballTalk. And running features are the best.