Baseball should institute a rule that upon the death of a team’s owner, the team must be sold. Sure, a family member could then opt to buy the team but it would not be a slam-dunk. Generally when people buy baseball teams, they do so with an intent to present the best product on the field and to win a championship, (nod, Sam Zell).
However, like most rich kids who inherit money, the people who generally inherit baseball teams squander them and become whiny and irrational. Take for instance Hank Steinbrenner who said recently, “The bottom line is that the team is not playing the way it is capable of playing. These players are being paid a lot of money and they had better decide for themselves to earn that money.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the upcoming dysfunction that Hank will sow upon the Yankees. I of course want to see the Yankees fall apart and see their owner make his players’ lives miserable. As my friend Mattraw, a Yankees fan said, “All these years waiting for Steinbrenner to become senile, and now we’ve got to deal with another 40 years of his asshole son? Great.”
Hank Steinbrenner has this entitled bullshit attitude that is completely unwarranted. George Steinbrenner took his family’s struggling business and made it back into a success, and in the process earned himself a massive fortune. Hank Steinbrenner has done essentially nothing in life. He’s been a failure generally everywhere and while Hal, his brother has at least been marginally successful in horse racing, Hank has no real accomplishments to speak of. Now that his father is in poor health and has ceded control to his sons, Hank is the man in charge. So far, he’s managed to be a complete asshole. Nice!
The reason why I suggest baseball teams can’t be bequeathed is that for the initial owner, the team is everything, for George Steinbrenner he lived and died by the Yankees, he made them his team. For Hank, who is just a spoiled rich kid who has gotten his way throughout his life, he has done nothing to earn this position as owner. It seems that George Steinbrenner agrees because up until he divorced Steinbrenner’s daughter, Steve Swindal was the heir apparent, because he actually earned the right to become the owner of the team through experience, knowledge and dedication. After the divorce Hank and Hal became the heirs out of necessity, not merit.
The fact that Steinbrenner, who loves the Yankees franchise more than anyone would NOT want to give his team automatically to his sons says more than anything else. They were the last option and it has become pretty clear why.
Sure the O’Malley family ran the Dodgers generally well for over 50 years, but they are the exception rather than the rule. If baseball made a rule that after an owner dies the team be put up for sale it would be extremely radical, and dangerous possibly. But is having Hank Steinbrenner in control of the most famous franchise any better?
As far as I can tell, the only time that a team has been bequeathed and been run well was by this guy:
But they didn’t even win the game at the end! That said, Billy knew a shitload more about baseball than Hank ever will.