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“What would George Steinbrenner do?” What a ridiculous question

May 22, 2012, 8:47 AM EDT

George Steinbrenner AP

There’s no sense in sugarcoating it. The Yankees are playing terrible baseball right now. They have lost seven of ten and the offense is in the crapper. Of course it’s early yet, and unless you believe that the Orioles are going to continue to win one-run games all the time and put up big offensive numbers despite striking out a ton and never walking, the Yankees should be back in this thing eventually. But yes, things are bad at the moment.

But no matter how bad things get in the Bronx, could we please dispense with the hacky “If George Steinbrenner were alive he’d …” rebop?  I’m lookin’ at you Wallace Matthews:

This was the kind of night when, in the old Yankee Stadium, George Steinbrenner might have commandeered the PA system to apologize to the fans and maybe offer them a rain check to a future game … In another era, “The Boss” might have grabbed the microphone and apologized for this one, and then stormed into the office to fire someone.

These days, you’ve got to hope the Baby Boss, in his own quiet way, is cooking up something similar.

Yes, because the Yankees’ post-1995 success was totally built on knee-jerk firings as opposed to Steinbrenner, for once in his life, not messing with that which smart baseball people put together. What would George Steinbrenner do?  Probably a bunch of stupid, poorly thought-out things that did way more to generate back page headlines than improve the baseball team. That’s what Steinbrenner would do.

But  sure, if you want to go back to the days when Bob Lemon, Gene Michael, Clyde King and Billy Martin ran around a revolving door and the team didn’t win squat, go right ahead. But that’s not what made the Jeter-era Yankees successful.

The 2012 Yankees are a slumping team that, I suspect, will stop slumping soon and begin crushing the ball again. It’s also possible, on the other hand, that, yes, it’s a team that is suddenly feeling its age and said slump is less aberration than it is the new normal.

But whichever of those things it is, firing people and doing dumb angry things will not help. This is the team Joe Girardi has, and its particular personnel and contractual composition do not make it amenable to quick or easy fixes. You can’t can Girardi and resurrect Billy Martin, nor can you trade A-Rod and Teixeira for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.  To suggest otherwise is to abdicate anything approaching reasonable analysis in favor of mindless yammering.

  1. deathmonkey41 - May 22, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Fire Kevin Long! Seriously though- that’s not knee jerk, I’ve been saying that for years. I’ve never seen a MLB club go into so many team-wide slumps in all my life. He gets credit when the highest paid lineup in baseball scores runs, so why shouldn’t he get the blame when the bats go cold? At the very least, it might spark some life into this diamond full of zombies.

    • vallewho - May 22, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      One frustrating thing that has been evident for the past 3 years is that the Yankees cannot seem to put a game-plan together when facing a pitcher that they have never seen before. For that alone, I think Long has to go.

    • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Kevin Long: Fixed Granderson.

      • vallewho - May 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        and how many other players are there on the team? It would be cool if he could fix 3-4 of them…

      • djpostl - May 22, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        He also broke Teixeria (or at least has done nothing to address his decline) and broke Jeter last year (Jeter very openly talks about how he had to scrap all the shit Long did with his swing in order to turn his game around).

    • pjmarn6 - May 22, 2012 at 10:32 PM

      You wanted these guys on steroids to put up the big numbers and get the HUGE multiyear contracts and when the steroids are washed out of their systems and “gee whiz” you find they are just ordinary ball players who are not going to continue putting up fantastic numbers, you get disappointed :(:(
      Poor, poor, poor baseball fans!

  2. Old Gator - May 22, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    George is dead – or, as some around here are fond of saying, immortal. If he were here right now, I think all he would be able to want to do is eat Wallace Matthews’ brain.

    Yours too. No hair in the way.

  3. skeleteeth - May 22, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Trade for a young bat like Jesus Montero!

    • vallewho - May 22, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      ha-ha

    • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      Yankees would be rolling with Jesus’ .262/,295/.428 line.

      • dangle13x - May 22, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        Ha you are dumb enough to read a rookies stat line through 40 games.

      • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        Hmm, well we’re talking about the current Yankees struggles, not their future team or performance, so I don’t see how Jesus Montero’s future performance or potential has anything to do with it.

      • skeleteeth - May 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        You’re out of your element, Donnie.

    • djpostl - May 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Because he is just crushing it. Oh wait…

  4. southpaw2k - May 22, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    “…nor can you trade A-Rod and Teixeira for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.”

    Ironically, I’d be willing to bet Yankees fans post trade ideas like this one on Yankees blogs all over the place. They might even “sweeten” the trade by tossing in Ivan Nova.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - May 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      I was about to propose that, and adding in Hector Noesi… but then I realized we already dumped Noesi for a guy on the DL for the year.

      • number42is1 - May 22, 2012 at 9:13 AM

        Probably more like 2 years….. SIGH!

    • djpostl - May 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      If not on a blog you can bet your bottom dollar it’s on Bleacher Report.

  5. mybrunoblog - May 22, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    If you really know Yankees baseball and George Steinbrenner then you know there were different George phases. 1970s George, 80s George, 90s George and finally 2000s George. He evolved, devolved, grew, changed, morphed, transformed and did so much more during his run with the Yanks.
    Just for fun lets pick 80s George. Now 80s George was a beast. He hired and fired like I change socks. 80s George immediately fires Joe Girardi and replaces him with a Yankee icon probably someone like Ron Guidry. George trades Nova and Garcia for low level minor leaguers who “show lots of potential”. Finally, 80s George calls a couple of his favorite newspaper guys and leaks the idea that “if this team doesn’t start winning more heads will roll”. This appears on a back page in bold healines the next day.
    Oh yeah, almost forgot. 80s George will fire his secretary too only to hire her back a week later and pay for her kids college because he feels bad for firing her.
    Man. I could talk George all day…..

    • 18thstreet - May 22, 2012 at 9:18 AM

      Man, that story about the secretary, I just don’t know what to make of it. I want it to be a story about a rich guy putting his money to good use, but it sounds like the work of a crazy person.

    • dangle13x - May 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM

      Talk George all day? Exciting, but I’m good. There are plenty of borish, rich, morons that have the power to make decisions.

  6. 18thstreet - May 22, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    I just read “The Bronx is Burning.” Steinbrenner was an ass. (So was Bella Abzug, but that’s off topic.) The knee-jerk firing, the meddling with the roster … non-Yankee fans should be PRAYING the Yankees overreact somehow.

    Maybe they can extent Jeter’s contract for another 5 years.

    • 18thstreet - May 22, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      *extend.

      Damn you, autocorrect!

  7. sictransitchris - May 22, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Wally Matthews stinks and I don’t like him. That goes double for baseball fans who took on George’s persona and make it virtually impossible to discuss the Yankees in any serious capacity.

  8. danaking - May 22, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    I wish they would go back to how things were when Big Stein did a lot of crazy and counterproductive things. I hate the Yankees.

  9. xpensivewinos - May 22, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    The Yankees approach at the plate has been awful. They used to manipulate pitchers and always seemed to have the upper hand by taking lots of pitches and getting deep in counts, but not this season. Ironically, that seems to be the one thing the Red Sox have been doing very well this season. Jeter and Gardner (when he was playing) always seem to have quality at-bats.

    And what the hell has happened to Curtis Granderson? He’s become one of the most one-dimensional hitters I’ve ever seen. His at-bats last three or four pitches and he either strikes out or grounds out to second………..occasionally, he’ll hit a home run. With the exception of Drew Stubbs, there can’t be anyone in the majors who has swung at and missed more pitches than Granderson.

    Oh, and the fact that Rodriguez swings like he’s 184 years old isn’t helping matters either…….

    • deathmonkey41 - May 22, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Or that Tex insists he can find a hole on the half of the infield where 8 people are sitting.

    • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      .255/.355/.540 136 OPS+ 139 wRC+ with 13 HRs. What a bum!

      • dangle13x - May 22, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        scastro just rattles off sabremetrics to argue. Maybe you should play a little less fantasy baseball and try communicating with people in terms other than stats. The Cubs suck.

      • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Not sure if serious.

      • djpostl - May 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        13 Hrs yet only 23 RBIs (meaning only 10 of his RBIs are not his own ass) whilst batting behind a guy whose OBP has been over .400 all season. Yup, he is a bum.

  10. lazlosother - May 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    As a NY fan I am all for these trades. Then NY could trade Phil Hughes for Felix Hernandez, straight up, because Cashman is a ninja.

    What really needs to happen though is for NY to parade the old man’s corpse through the stadium before each game. This way the players could be inspired by the whole “bossness” thing, and they would know that true winners never quit. A ritualistic sacrifice of a convenient scapegoat, performed in center field after every loss would work wonders as well. The stadium anouncer would ask “What would George do?” The crowd would scream “off with his head”.

    If Craig could help make this happen, the Evil Empire would be forever in his debt.

  11. vallewho - May 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    George is gonna come back from the dead and:

    1- demote Tex to AA for a month to tech him to hit the the ball other way. If that doesn’t work- cattle-prod.

    2- switch out AROD’s bats for a 1/2oz lighter models and tells him to lose some of that weight his carrying around the midsection.

    3- tell Garner that he’s never gonna be a .300 hitter and that’s OK. Just run and go for 70.

    4- tell martin to choke-up on the bat, and pick a few more fights.

    5- release Garcia and let one of the “young” arms completely loose.

    6- order Hughes to let it fly; every time he thinks on the mound the ball flies out of the park.

    7- order Granderson to bunt at least 3 times every week; that will be at least 3 less strike-outs.

  12. yahmule - May 22, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    When people pass away, there’s sort of a universal agreement to do a collective shine job on their image and reputation. Steinbrenner really out that social theory to the acid test. I’m glad enough time has passed that people feel comfortable ripping him again.

    • dangle13x - May 22, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      The only people that haven’t been ripping him are moronic NY fans who idiolized this mongoloid. I’ll admit he was a great representation of the fanbase.

  13. steeler999 - May 22, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Can we please stop with the ” Steinbrenner would never let this happen” routine. If we acknowledge Steinbrenner was responsible for the Yankees rebirth in the 70s, we must also acknowledge he played a big part in what happened throughout the 80s & early 90s. The Yankees didn’t start turning things around until George was suspended.

  14. aceshigh11 - May 22, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    This breaking news just in: Generalissimo George Steinbrenner is still dead.

    • drewzducks - May 22, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not”

  15. nightman13 - May 22, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    That’s a pretty girl down there Richard, I wonder if she goes out with one of the Yankees!!

  16. yankeesfanlen - May 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Oh, for corn’s sake, Girardi is just doing what Joe Torre always did……wait out the storm. Having said that, a little dose of Hank might be in order, if simply for auld lyne syne.

  17. hushbrother - May 22, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Seriously. But to be fair, beat writers have a tougher job than national bloggers. You guys can write about anything you want in the world of baseball. The local guys have to think of something, day after day after day, to say about the team they’re covering. Matthews is a pretty good writer; forgive him if he devolves into schlockiness a couple times a year.

    • scastro87 - May 22, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      Shlockiness is his main mode.

  18. stevem7 - May 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Don’t know if you are aware of it Craig but the season is 25% over and the statement “It’s early yet” is about the dumbest comment any sportswriter can make. It makes you an ENABLER of poor performance and says you really don’t care how the team has played up till now because there is time to recover. You probably aren’t old enough to have been around in 1965, but some of us have seen this before and as Yogi used to say “It gets late early out there”. The sun is setting on the 2012 Yankees a lot quicker than you realize and much like the 65 Yankees most of you will spend the season waiting for them to come back which isn’t going to happen. I know, I saw it live in 65.

  19. bbk1000 - May 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Craig has proven to be more of a gossip columnist than a sports writer, so I don’t expect much when reading his misguided rantings.

    The O’s being in first place, along with the extra wildcard gives the Yankees a longer leash. We all know the O’s are not making the playoffs. The Yankees will eventually get their act together, at least enough to make the playoffs.

    It’s a marathon, not a sprint, well at least the regular season.

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