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The pre-Steinbrenner Yankees were not as bad as you were told


A second must-read for you today comes from Mark Armour, writing at The National Pastime Museum. His topic: the CBS-era New York Yankees.

Most people who talk about the Yankees thumbnail them by saying “they were a dynasty for over 40 years, then they sucked, then George Steinbrenner bought the team and they were good again.” Those “when they sucked” years were 1966-1972, when the club was owned by CBS and when they did not make a playoff appearance. This is, Armour writes, a simplification that overlooks at lot of interesting stuff.

Contrary to popular belief, the CBS years were not a dark age. Indeed, in many ways they were years of rejuvenation for the franchise. Under CBS, the Yankees rebuilt a farm system that had been neglected, made some key trades that laid the groundwork for mid-to-late 1970s success and, despite no playoff appearances, were more competitive than your old man probably remembers. Oh, and while they were at it, they got the city to agree to renovate decaying Yankee Stadium, keeping the team in New York when they had a lot of reasons to follow the football Giants to New Jersey.

As Armour notes, they did all of this while suffering a unique handicap compared to earlier and later iterations of the franchise: the complete and utter lack of free agency.

The Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio-Mantle dynasty years came when the Yankees could sign any amateur player they wanted and could quite easily outbid and out-impress the top prospects simply because they were the World Famous New York Yankees. The Steinbrenner-era Yankees, obviously, had and continue to have the advantage of free agency for established major leaguers. CBS’ ownership of the club coincided with the only time in baseball history when a team could not sign any amateur it wanted due to the draft and could not sign veterans it wanted because it was pre-free agency.

They were not great years as Yankees fans have come to define greatness. “Win the pennant or bust” is the Yankees implied motto now and was then, and they never won a pennant for CBS. But they were useful and productive years that get far, far less ink than any other Yankees era.

Go read Armour’s article for some of that ink. It’s super interesting stuff.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”