Skip to content

Great Moments in “If the Boss were alive”

Jul 3, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

George Steinbrenner AP

Andrew Sullivan often mentions the fact that when he was a reporter at the New Republic his editor, Michael Kinsley, would say that he wished he had a single key on his computer that he could press before even reading an article that would delete all semicolons and replace them with a period and automatically capitalize the next word. Why? Because, Kinsley thought, semicolons were useless crutches which enabled bloated, aimless prose and served to prevent the writer from actually saying something useful, clear and succinct.

If I ever seriously mess up in life and find myself editing some Yankees columnist, I’d want a key that automatically deletes any variation of “If George Steinbrenner were alive” and replace it with the words “[columnist] is ill today. He will return next week.”

The latest abuser of this shopworn cliche of Yankees analysis: Bill Madden:

If George Steinbrenner were alive, you know there would be some kind of shakeup. Heads would roll somewhere. Changes — if nothing else for the sake of changes — would be in the offing.

That’s the difference between a regular columnist and a Spink Award-winning columnist like Madden. The Spink Award guy has the guts and job security to add the “heads would roll” cliche to the “if the Boss were still alive” cliche. He throws it all out there.

In other news, Steinbrenner is still dead. And even when he was alive, he had spent the last 15 years or so running a Yankees team with managerial and executive stability nearly unrivaled in all of baseball. Why? Because he changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore.

If only New York columnists could do that.

  1. Stacey - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    “If the Boss were alive” is one of the boxes on the Bill Madden Bingo card along with “A-Rod is worse than a murderer.”

    • dluxxx - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      The Boss is alive and well. His last album was actually pretty descent.

      • DJ MC - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        You’re a JD and the Straight Shot fan, too?

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Diuxxx, I agree about Springsteen, but the word you were looking for is “decent”. “Descent” is of course what the Red Sox have suffered in the standings since last year.

      • genericcommenter - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Are you a sportswriter?

  2. tysonpunchinguterus - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    The only reason George isn’t running the team today is because Selig’s committee to investigate whether or not to allow zombie owners hasn’t submitted its report yet. They have a strict deadline of “sometime in the future,” though, so it should all be resolved eventually.

  3. trbmb - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Clearly, George S is absent from ownership given Cash man The Magnificent is still failing at cash distribution. If George were to re-emerge, Cash would cash out.

  4. apkyletexas - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    If Steinbrenner were alive, the Yankees would have a massive bloated payroll, would be continuing to destroy baseball economics for 20+ other teams (just because they can), and would intensely and viciously lobby against any changes to the CBA that would provide a better economic footing for the majority of teams in the league.

    And the national baseball press would ignore all of the above while chasing the red-herring story of PEDs “destroying the game”.

    Oh wait – all that stuff is still happening. Maybe George is actually alive?

    • Kevin S. - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      You’ve been corrected every single time you’ve pulled out this “destroying the game crap” only to slink away and not respond to actual facts when confronted. Stop posting this utter nonsense.

  5. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    If the Boss were alive, there’d be headlines ripping Brian McCann….as well as a PI looking for dirt on him

  6. blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    If Connie Mack were alive today, the A’s would be in first place …….

    • tigersfandan - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Actually, they’d probably be in last place.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        It would be 5 years in first, followed by 8 in last, followed by 4 in first, followed by…..

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      You’re either a student of the game or well over 100 years of age.

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        My knees agree with 50% of your statement.

    • mazblast - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      If Connie Mack were alive today, he’d be incredibly…old.

      • yahmule - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:36 PM

        He would be 152! Gross!

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        Not to a 151 year old woman.

  7. sdelmonte - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    You could program a computer to remove semicolons, I am sure. It’s an interesting thought, but really does devalue the actual use of a semicolon.

    The bigger question is, at this point, what value does Bartolo Colon offer in a trade, thereby making him a Met for only half a season and thus a semi-Colon?

    • tigersfandan - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Well, if you trade him to a National League team, there’s always the comic relief of watching him bat.

    • apkyletexas - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      It’s called FIND and REPLACE. Computers have been doing it since at least the 1960’s. It’s one of the main reasons computers exist. You don’t have to write a special program.

    • mazblast - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      If the other teams perform their due diligence as to whether Bartolo can help them, is it a Colonoscopy?

  8. hushbrother - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Andrew Sullivan is an interesting guy, by the way. He’s an Americanized Brit, a gay Republican (he is, in fact, HIV positive), a devout catholic. A formidable debater. A guy who definitely provides unusual and unexpected perspectives on many issues. And who apparently needs a good editor to save himself from using semicolons.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      He considers himself a conservative, but I don’t believe he’s a Republican. (He rejects the way other conservatives have defined conservatism.)

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        He sounds a lot more interesting than the typical right wing nut.

  9. baberuthslegs - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Francisco Franco is still dead.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      I’m Chevy Chase – and you’re not

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Babe, you forgot to note the important development that the Generalisimo’s physicians have declined to speculate about how optimistic they are regarding any possible change in his condition.

  10. jwbiii - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    If the Boss were still alive, we would fire Joe Girardi, hire Billy Martin, and the Yankees would still be a mediocre team mostly due to the magnificence Masahiro Tanaka every fifth day.

    • jwbiii - Jul 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Pardon me, “he” would fire Girardi. I am not a Yankee fan and take no ownership of their management decisions.

      • blacksables - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

        Now you’re assuming that George and Billy are both alive again, and neither one of them as killed the other.

        Because, really, they have nothing to lose if they are able to come back to life.

        Might as well use the choke-hold.

      • jwbiii - Jul 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM

        This is true. But in our fictional parallel universe where George Steinbrenner is still alive, why can’t Billy Martin also be on the sunny side of the turf?

  11. chacochicken - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Why did no one have the foresight to decapitate him and put his head in cryogenic deep freeze?

    • tigersfandan - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM


    • jimeejohnson - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      Only ex-Red Sox get to do this.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        There is every reason to believe this was not Ted Williams’s choice, but that his expletive delete son did this to him. There’s no need to double the humiliation by bringing it up. Let the man rest in peace and with dignity.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        OK, my grinchly side is erupting. I wonder if our culture will ever disabuse itself of the evidently silly notion that when we die, we “rest in peace … with dignity.” Dreadfully sorry, but the evidence strongly supports the idea that when we die, we do not “go to our reward”, “meet our maker” or any other such stuff. We become dead. We cease to be, except for the memories of us carried by our survivors. Our no-longer-needed body breaks down (though our bizarre practice of embalming slows that down somewhat) and is recycled through nature. And we only are uncomfortable or fearful of all this because of silly things we are taught by people who don’t know any better. Alas.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 3, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        I didn’t say anything about what happens to his soul. I’m talking about his memory.

  12. jimeejohnson - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    If The Boss were alive, many of the present Yankees would be thrown out of Yankee Stadium faster than you can say “Evil Empire”. One thing The Boss never tolerated: losing. Even the Red Sox wish The Boss were still around to stoke the flames of a rivalry that is just about burnt out.

  13. Old Gator - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    If the Boss were alive, Cashman, he would eeeeat yourrrrr brayyyyinnnnn……..

  14. classicfinder - Jul 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    The Boss is alive and well and living in the swamps of Jersey.

  15. khar9 - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Bruce is still alive

    • mazblast - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      And still mumbling his way through his “songs”.

      • miguelcairo - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        Yeah. Okay.

  16. genericcommenter - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Not exactly the same thing, but as a lifelong Yankees fan who did not like Steinbrenner at all, I can’t stand guys who just started watching baseball or following the Yankees in 1996 (especially if they are my age or older) and think “The Boss” was such a great guy and owner. Maybe he was a good owner near the end, but only because being a “good owner” at the time meant being less hands-on than he was previously. He certainly wasn’t directly responsible for their success. Yeah, he wrote checks, but he did that in the 80s, too.

  17. hushbrother - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Saying a cliche is “shopworn” is a cliche.

  18. mikhelb - Jul 4, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Using “if the Boss were alive” cliches is as bad as asuming George S. “changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore”, remember he said he couldn’t do a lot of things with Cashman as GM because he was one of the few who defied George and personnel moves were now out of reach for the Boss.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Correa (2510)
  2. G. Stanton (2508)
  3. Y. Puig (2500)
  4. B. Crawford (2390)
  5. H. Pence (2256)
  1. G. Springer (2213)
  2. H. Ramirez (2141)
  3. M. Teixeira (2136)
  4. J. Hamilton (2113)
  5. J. Baez (2086)