Yankees Say Goodbye to the Good and Bad, Media Spins the Ugly

In the past couple of days, there has been a great deal of skepticism surrounding the good nature and past actions of former New York Yankees‘ owner George Steinbrenner. At the same time, there are plenty of injured hearts grieving the loss of announcer Bob Sheppard, who passed away just two days prior. All the while, media goes to great lengths to spin and cash in on a giant web of ugly.

In 1973, the New York Yankees baseball team was taken over by the notorious George Steinbrenner. While known by many as “The Boss”, in reference to his management style, or the man who made history and brought the Yankees to their glory, he is also depicted as the man who turned baseball into a homerun spending frenzy. Now, without a shred of shock, the media is throwing baseball fans a curveball, while letting those with news and opinions of this man walk with every hit, within reason. Either way, Steinbrenner, and the Yankees are getting the publicity that shows any publicity is good publicity.

On the day after  Steinbrenner’s death, MyFox NEPA reported that, during the July 13 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, the very same day that Steinbrenner’s death was announced, the news radio host may have taken the cake with one of his daring and often careless comments. A clip of the segment was posted on Media Matters:

“That cracker made a lot of African Americans millionaires,” Limbaugh said on his morning show Tuesday. “And at the same time he fired a bunch of white guys.”

This particular edition lead to civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton’s rebuttal that Limbaugh’s comments were “repugnant and offensive” regardless of how they were intended.

On the more factual and accountable side, reporters and old acquaintances of Steinbrenner hit runs through vicarious eyes and ears. Richard Goldstein, of the New York Times, reported that Steinbrenner “was often portrayed by the news media as a blowhard and a baseball know-nothing”. Many joined to give the world a briefing of the owner’s life and accomplishments. Op-Ed Contributor for the New York Times, Fay Vincent, wrote The Pride of the Yankee, detailing the writer’s good and bad run-ins with the Yankee’s strong arm in a first person account, humanizing who some have depicted as a baseball beast.

Other media outlets have used the news of Steinbrenner’s death to help bring home the hotdogs. Muckety.com cashed in on the deal by publishing an interactive map titled Yankees’ owner heirs to profit from tax loophole, showing those in relationship to Steinbrenner who “will benefit from the year-long gap in the estate tax”. Wikipedia was even able to update their George Steinbrenner article in the past couple of days to cash in on Internet hits.

Then we can take a look at a different type of contributor to all of the Yankees’ media output. Bob Sheppard, the Yankee Stadium public announcer, passed away on July 12 at age 99, leaving the world to grieve a voice powerful enough to carry the Yankees for over 50 years. A man who had an incredible track record academically, through his collegiate accomplishments and service to those he taught as a speech teacher, and as a voice that will accompany baseball game footage of the past for years to come. His voice told a story to those who listened to his play-by-play accounts of nearly 4,500 Yankee games.

So what does this mean for the Yankees? To me, as an American introduced to baseball at a young age, although never becoming a die hard fan, it means that the Yankees and baseball are at a loss no matter how it’s spun. With both men, I see talent and major lifetime goals and accomplishments. I see an end to an era that made the Yankees who they are and baseball what it is today. It’s the beginning to more exciting things which are yet to come.

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