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Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball Hardcover – May 11, 2010
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“Definitive, indispensible.... A vivid and entertaining portrait.” (Sports Illustrated)
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Top Customer Reviews
George Steinbrenner in his professional life has, on occasion, exhibited rage, narcissism, and greed. He has been accused of being a coward and a bully. He could also be creative, persuasive, sentimental, and spectacularly generous, and is indisputably one of the most financially successful sports businessmen in history. Thus, his biography - told straight up - makes for compelling reading. And this is what is delivered by the author, Bill Madden, an award-winning sportswriter who covered the NY Yankees beat for decades during the George Steinbrenner era.
This book is about what you would expect from a respected, veteran sportwriter, such as Madden: an excellent piece of reportage and sports journalism. Steinbrenner's story is fascinating stuff, even without analysis or embellishment (and, thus, the book's shortcoming). While a fascinating read, there is virtually no analysis of Mr. Steinbrenner's behavior or mental status, nor of his business genius, no explicit analysis of whether the greatness of the Yankees under his ownership occurred because of, or despite him.
Bill Madden is the New York Daily News longtime Yankees beat writer and MLB columnist since the 1970's. Madden was there for the "Bronx Zoo" years of the 1970's when contract jealousies, fights, backstabbing, and personal hatred seemed to go hand-in-hand with the winning of those late-1970's Yankee teams. Madden continues into the 1980's, when despite a World Series appearance in 1981 and the signing of the biggest free agent of the decade (Dave Winfield) and one of the all-time Yankee greats in Don Mattingly, the decade was barren for the team. Not until the 1990's (more below) would things turn around.
Madden gives you all the details: how Steinbrenner and a consortium bought the team for $10 million (with George putting up less than $200,000); the crazy antics involving Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and Reggie Jackson; the plunge into free-agency with Catfish Hunter and later Don Gullet which revolutionized baseball; the seedy antics involving the undermining of his managers, GM's, and team presidents; the Howie Spira episode which got George suspended by Fay Vincent; and how the expulsion from baseball in the 1990's ironically led to the Yankees rebirth. It's all there and a whole lot more.Read more ›
In some ways, Steinbrenner comes off better than expected. He was a very shrewd businessmen, as shown by his knack for making the exactly right strategic decisions in his shipping business, his acquisition of the Yankees (for only $160,000 of his own cash and for $10 million in all), his embrace of free agency, and his seizure of fantastic TV money via the creation of his own YES network. And he had a brutal upbringing, which will prompt some empathy on the part of the reader.
On the other hand, the tremendous power he gained by virtue of his excellent strategic decisionmaking freed him up to let loose all of his personal indiosyncracies and demons. He's a sentimental man. Some of that is good -- the stories of his charity are legion. But there is a flip side to sentimentality -- the need to give to get; a guilty conscience. One example: he feels bad about cutting Stottlemyre before what was to be his comeback season. This saved the team some money. So Steinbrenner promises to pay Stottlemyre to do rehab, which eases Steinbrenner's guilty conscience. But he never delivers on the promise despite Stottlemyre's reliance, and Stottlemyre is too proud to ask him to deliver. Not until Torre hires Stottlemyre as pitching coach in 1996 does an irate Stottlemyre demand compensation as part of the deal. The tyrant in Stottlemyre demands constant fawning and acknowledgement and follow up from the charitable recipients -- hardly a Christian sentiment.Read more ›
There are many adjectives used to describe George Michael Steinbrenner III, principal owner and chair of the New York Yankees, and most are not complimentary. Since he took over the team in the early 1970s, there has been no shortage of fodder for the local press, including Madden, who has followed the game for the Daily News and New York Post. "Der Boss" (one of Steinbrenner's many nicknames) was famous for a fiery temper; prior to Joe Torre's lengthy stay as skipper, the Bronx Bombers went through 20 managerial changes between 1973 and 1995, including many repeat performances, most notably by the late Billy Martin. And that doesn't even take into account the front office. He would order his underlings to handle a task or acquire a certain player, often disregarding the objections of those far more knowledgeable in such matters, and then explode when things didn't work out the way he desired (and his staff expected). He would fire, then rehire, at the drop of a pin, often excusing the hasty behavior with "I didn't really mean it" or "I'll let it go, this time."
Yankees fans and haters are well aware of Steinbrenner's mercurial nature. His apologists point to his success; his enemies note the distractions and bad feelings among the team's personnel. Forget the infamous quote from Reggie Jackson about being "the straw that stirs the drink": that sobriquet should go to Steinbrenner.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
These guys are as crazy as you think! God bless George Steinbrenner and his enemies for bringing the excitement to those golden years of modern baseball. Drama at every turn.Published 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
Excellent read... Especially as this book really let's you know the ups and downs of Steinbrenner... Love it!Published 9 months ago by AdviceByAlex
Exceptional objective recap of King George's reign. A terrific primer for any entrepreneur on how to use other people's money to purchase a Crown Jewel asset in the Pro Sports... Read morePublished 15 months ago by R. Gordon