Please put the Yankees up for sale
Dr. Cary Goodman
It is time for Hal Steinbrenner to sell the Yankees. Now that the team with the second highest payroll in baseball has lost more games than it has won, having just dropped three in a row at home to the Red Sox. Now that they are all but out of the playoff picture, it is the time to examine what got them into last place and how things can be changed.
The team’s biggest problem is their lack of leadership, on and off the field. On the turf, only Aaron Judge has demonstrated any capacity for providing inspiration to his teammates and their fans. And even #99 comes up short when compared with the Yankees’ last captain, #2, Derek Jeter.
Jeter, not only excelled in his athletic determination, but he also recognized the importance of enriching the Yankee Universe. Derek set up his own foundation to help kids in the Bronx get to college. He met informally with admirers along River Ave. He visited one of the area’s sports bars and signed autographs. Judge hasn’t used any of his $360 million salary to help anyone in the nation’s poorest community. He hasn’t posed for pictures in front of his street-art mural, even though it has been there since his rookie season. In fact, I don’t recall anytime, anywhere that Judge has engaged with his neighbors.
This lack of leadership on the field starts at the top and permeates on through the organization. For example, does anyone know how much the Bronx Bombers pay the city in property taxes to support the cops, firefighters, sanitation and social workers of their home borough? Zero. No taxes. Nada.
Does anyone know how much the Yankees pay New York City to rent Yankee Stadium? One dollar per year. Mayor Adams, how many migrants could benefit from the millions derived from a fair-market, stadium lease? How many people could be helped with mental illness, how many streets could be paved, if the Yankees paid their fair share to our city? The Independent Budget Office estimates the team would be putting almost $100 million annually into our tax base if they paid their fair share.
Hal Steinbrenner, the principal Yankee owner, is not George, his father. True. He is not a convicted felon. True, he does not have an angry demeanor. But, in one important way, he is like his dad: his passion for making money. The difference? George wanted to make money so the Yankees could win and continue the Yankees’ role as the winningest franchise in sports.
Hal only wants to make money so he can make more money, period. How else can you explain selling space to an insurance company on the team’s hallowed uniforms? How else can you explain selling the broadcast rights of marquee games to expensive streaming services like Peacock and Apple TV? How else can you explain keeping Brian Cashman as a general manager when he hasn’t won a World Series since 2009?
Cashman has given Yankee fans a roster filled with players who care little for their teammates and less for their fans. Cashman has given us players who mock their fans (Carlos Rodón), embarrass the team (Josh Donaldson, Domingo German) or ignore their neighbors (LeMahieu, Cole, Torres, Stanton).
They make enormous salaries but close their eyes to the immense poverty of the South Bronx. They don’t visit the homeless shelters, the local day care centers or linger outside the ballpark to sign autographs. Cashman has given us a team with a manager who leads the league in ejections and players who have no idea how to run the bases. Finally, Cashman stood by stubbornly as the August trading deadline approached — refusing to try to refresh this tired group of under-performers.
Who has the means to purchase the Yankees? Names like Bezos, Gates, Buffett and Bloomberg come to mind. I’d like to see an owner who cares enough about leadership and the Yankee legacy to make Jeter and Mariano Rivera partners. I’d like to see an owner who would sell stock in the Bronx Bombers to the people of the South Bronx, like the Packers did in Green Bay.
It is time to call the Steinbrenners, “out.” It is time for new leadership reinforced by the greatness of the Yankees’ history. Who knows what a team with owners like Derek and Mariano might do? Maybe hire Willie Randolph or Don Mattingly as the GM or manager? Maybe win some pennants and World Series? Maybe rebuild the organization’s link to its community? They can’t do any worse than the Steinbrenner/Cashman crew.
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