Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love the Boss but he's not getting in Hall of Fame

As a New York Yankees fan, I am incredibly grateful to George Steinbrenner for all he has done for the Yankees and baseball. I was one of those fans jumping to my feet to show my love and affection for the Boss when he was up on the video screen on Opening Day at the stadium. But even though Steinbrenner will go down as one of the most successful owners in baseball history, I don't think he's getting into the hallowed Hall of Fame.

For sure, he has many things going for him. He has owned the Yankees for 37 years during which time they won 11 American League pennants and seven World Series. In declining health, the Boss has passed on his team to his sons Hal and Hank and they have become less controversial, to the point of boredom, which could help alleviate the sting from all the years of controversies when the Boss was running the team.

Unlike with Pete Rose, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig likely won't object if people ask him about the possibility of putting the Boss in the Hall of Fame. Steinbrenner and Selig have had their ups and downs and loud disagreements, but they've been friends for more than 30 years, which should help the Boss' chances.

But there is no question Steinbrenner has done some things that could rightfully keep him out of the Hall. He pled guilty to making illegal campaign contributions and obstruction of justice in the 1970s, leading to his first suspension from baseball. He hired a gambler to dig up dirt on one of his outfielders, Dave Winfield, leading to his second suspension. During his heyday, the Boss was a bully and a tyrant, especially to his players and employees.

As he got older, Steinbrenner appeared to learn the error of his ways, easing up on his outrageous behavior. And the Steinbrenner family is well known for its generosity, particularly in supporting youth programs in the Tampa area.

Is it enough? Yankee legends, including Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and manager Joe Girardi think so. But I doubt it. It's easy for fans like me to forgive his indiscretions because I'm too young to remember most of them. But lifetime baseball people have long memories. Baseball executives are held to higher standards than players and it's hard for me to see enough people forgetting about Steinbrenner's past for him to get the necessary votes. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

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