Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – June 3, 2014


Why do obscene real estate prices in the Bay Area and Donald Sterling’s situation and the lease for the Raiders make me think of the Steinbrenner kids and the A’s?

It is all clear in today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Kyle Seager, Justin Masterson, Jordy Mercer, Clayton Kershaw, Xander Bogaerts, John Lackey and Seth Smith all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball
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The Steinbrenner – Corleone Connections

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There are two families who controlled a powerful empire that was founded in New York. These two families were feared, respected and faced a potential downfall.

One would be the Steinbrenners, whose New York Yankees are now at a crossroads. The mightiest franchise in baseball history not only missed the 2013 postseason, but face tough decisions in the next few years. The Steinbrenners are watching their superstars either retire, recover from injury or drag everyone into court. They tried being frugal but opened their wallets to help fill empty seats in the new stadium and kickstart the team’s fortunes.

The other family is the Coreleone family. What began as a few opportunistic Italian immigrants committing small crimes, using an olive oil company as cover, became a multinational Mafia syndicate, led by a passionate man who desperately wanted to become legitimate.

Both families had a larger than life patriarch, conflicts among the children and a web of loyal allies and back stabbing traitors.

How are the two families similar and how are they different? Other than the fact that one is real and the other is ficticous, the parallels are certainly there.

There are spoilers from The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III in this article. If you have not seen those movies before, what the hell is the matter with you?

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George Steinbrenner is Don Vito Corelone

Why the comparison works:

Both are larger than life patriarchs of not only a family but also an empire. They also both went by a name that seemed to embody their power and authority. (The Godfather for Don Vito, The Boss for George.) Both struck fear into their subordinates. Remember how Luca Brasi trembled and stuttered when he met his Don during the wedding? No doubt many Yankee players, managers, coaches and hot dog vendors had a similar experience with Steinbrenner.

Both faded towards the end of their life and had to make hard decisions of which child would take over the business. After their death, both The Godfather and The Boss still cast a looming shadow over their empire and their offspring. All of the actions of the next generation carried the question “would HE approve if he were still alive?”

Both made offers that you couldn’t refuse.

Where the comparison falls apart:

Don Vito knew he was scary. He didn’t need to chew out his hitmen in public and chances are didn’t call them in the middle of the night, screaming, as Steinbrenner did. In fact, The Godfather never seemed to fire anybody, unlike The Boss. Also George liked to air out his issues through the media. It is safe to say that The Godfather liked to stay out of the papers. (Although he was front page news after he was shot.)

Don Vito would have hired someone a little more savvy than Howie Spiro to shadow Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner was caught doing shady deals and was suspended twice. Nobody ever caught The Godfather.

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Hank Steinbrenner is Santino “Sonny” Corleone

Why the comparison works:

Hank and Sonny are both firey hot tempered older sons hoping to step into their father’s shoes. Hank tries to play to the media as if he is a chip off of the old block. Sonny acted like he was already the prince of the city, even interrupting Solozzo in the secret meeting and tipping his hand. Both make rash and impulsive decisions, whether it is whacking Bruno Tataglia or signing A-Rod to a 10 year deal when nobody else was offering him a contract.

Where the comparison falls apart:

Hank never saw a camera he didn’t like nor would play to. Sonny broke that camera at Connie’s wedding. There is no evidence that women fawn over Hank like they did for Sonny. Likewise, Hank can go through toll booths with no problem.

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Hal Steinbrenner is Fredo Corleone

Why the comparison works:

Both are a younger son of the patriarch. The family sent Fredo off to run the hotels and casinos when things got violent in New York. Hal also ran the hotel division of the Steinbrenner’s company, no doubt to learn the business. Fredo, despite screaming to Michael about how smart he is, is not that clever.   He struck a deal with Johnny Ola and Hyman Roth that he was told would be good for the family. Instead, he nearly got Michael killed and betrayed the family and everything it stands for.

And despite Hal trying to make smart long term moves, his handling of the team has been odd at best. At one point he abstains from signing big free agents, trying to stay under the salary cap. Then he opens the wallet for several good players with injury issues while letting his best hitter, Robinson Cano, walk.

Where the comparison falls apart:

For all I know, Hal does not go out fishing on a row boat. If he does, he probably is not in danger.

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Brian Cashman is Tom Hagen

Why the comparison works:

Not a blood relation, but both Tom and Cashman are close advisors to the patriarch. Both try to tell the hot headed son to not take things so personally. Both needed a drink before telling their boss bad news. Plus they want to make deals that secure long term growth, whether it was Cashman wanting to develop the farm system or Tom wanting to get into narcotics.

Where the comparison falls apart:

I have a hard time seeing Tom Hagen jumping from airplanes and climbing down buildings like Brian Cashman does in the off season. Plus most of Tom Hagen’s deals worked. The horse’s head Tom put in the bed would have been more effective than pitchers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and it tied Michael Pineda’s number of healthy days with the Yankees.

Maybe Cashman should have refused a few offers.

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Jennifer Steinbrenner is Connie Corleone

Why the comparison works:

Both Jennifer and Connie are the daughter of a big shot. And because they are not sons, they have been passed over in any involvement in the family business. Connie barely knew what was happening until she was much older and learned how to put poison in a cannoli.

Jennifer told the New York Times that “even if she wanted to move up in the organization, I would’ve never been allowed. Not in this family.” Both saw their husbands be more involved with the organization than they ever would be.

Where the comparison falls apart:

I have a feeling that George Steinbrenner found a way to refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day.


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Steve Swindal is Carlo Rizzi

Why the comparison works:

Both married into the family of power. Steve married Jennifer Steinbrenner and suddenly shot to the front of the line of potential heirs to the kingdom. (Heaven forbid the daughter runs the team.) Likewise, Carlo married Connie at the beginning of The Godfather and set himself up for a great life. And both turned out to be dopes who screwed it all up. Carlo cheated on Connie and beat her, all the while wanting a more significant role. And then he sold out Sonny to Barzini, a move that Michael figured out.

Meanwhile Steve and Jennifer’s marriage was already on shaky ground when he was arrested for a DUI. She filed for divorce and his ability to run the richest baseball team in history went up in smoke. Chances are he is going to spend the rest of his life wishing he had called a cab.

Where the comparison falls apart:

To my knowledge, Hank Steinbrenner never beat Steve Swindal to within an inch of his life in public like Sonny did to Carlo.


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Joe Torre is Sal Tessio

Why the comparison works:

Both were strong willed old Italian men with sad emotional eyes. Tessio had a good sense of strategy, knowing that the restaurant in the Bronx had the old fashioned toilets that could hide a gun. Torre knew not to panic down 0-2 against the Braves in 1996 and handled the bullpen perfectly.

Tessio had great loyalty to the father but was suspicious of the son. Ultimately Tessio struck a deal outside the family. Torre respected George Steinbrenner but did not see eye to eye with Hank nor Hal and did not accept the Yankee offer and moved on. He may have asked to be kept aboard, “for old times sake.”

Where the Comparison falls apart:

When Tessio went against the Corleone family, he was whacked.

When Torre went against the Steinbrenners, he signed a multi million dollar contract in Los Angeles.

The difference is subtle.


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Joan Steinbrenner is “Mamma” Carmelo Corleone

Why the comparison works:

The steady matriarch sat in the background of the volatile world of a powerful family. Even people who follow the families closely knew little about them. Be honest. Did you know that George Steinbrenner’s widow was named Joan? Did you know “Mamma Corleone’s” first name was Carmela? You never heard Joan’s take against Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield or Hideki Irabu.

And besides chewing out Connie at Anthony’s communion and sitting with Michael by the fireplace, when did Mamma Corleone insert herself into the story?

Where the Comparison falls apart:

It is doubtful that any Steinbrenner child will be whacked once Joan passes.


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Derek Jeter is Johnny Fontaine

Why the comparison works:

Both were heart throbs that everyone wants to meet and makes the girls scream. Johnny was fiercely loyal to his Godfather and that continued to the children as he signed the big deal in Vegas. Jeter was close with the Boss and signed his contract extension with Hal and Hank. Both acted kind of whiny during contract issues, but sadly The Boss couldn’t slap Jeter in the face yelling “You can act like a man!”

Where the Comparison falls apart:

Jeter was a home grown prospect, so no gun to the head of a band leader nor a decapitated horse was needed to keep his career going.


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Nobody is Michael Corleone

And this is the problem with the team now. They have the foundation that was left over from the patriarch, but no clear direction. Are they developing players? Are they cutting costs? Are they signing stars? Are they doing anything to fill those empty seats around home plate? Are they making smart trades? Do they have anyone to point out the P.R. gaffes like the whole Stub Hub debacle or the mess at Mariano Rivera bobble head night? And how many injured players in their 30’s can they compile onto one team?

Rivera and Pettitte both retired and somehow the team got OLDER.

For all the talk about the Yankees being “The Evil Empire”, they are an organization of sentimental softies who need to make some tough decisions. They need a Michael.

No doubt Hal thinks he is a Michael. He might act like a Michael. But he is Fredo. And he needs a Michael to plant that kiss on him and then say “I know it was you Hal. You broke my heart.”

Say what you want about Michael, but he made some hard decisions with good long term thinking. Nobody else saw the advantage of shooting Solozzo and Captain McClusky, but he did. Michael knew when to take out the members of the five families and that Carlo was a rat. He knew when to move the family to Nevada. He realized when to deal with Hyman Roth and when to get out of Cuba and how to deal with Frankie Pentangelli.

Not all the moves were popular and they resulted in the death of his brother in law, his brother, the break up of his marriage. But it was all in the name of business.

But for the Steinbrenners… there wasn’t enough time. Just wasn’t enough time.

There are more comparisons. Andy Pettitte’s reversal of his Clemens testimony makes him Frankie Pentangelli. Lon Trost and Randy Levine can fight over who is Clemenza and who is Al Neri. Joe Girardi could very well be Enzo the Baker.

Right now the Steinbrenners need that man holding the strings, making the calls and protecting the family business.

Godfather Photos: Paramount Pictures, Zoetrope Studios

Baseball Photos: AP, Getty Images, Sports Illustrated, YES Network

10 Reasons why the New York Yankees winning the 2011 World Series would be good for baseball

In the second of my series of Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game, I decided to tackle the toughest one and get it out of the way.

Yup. The Yankees. The team that is so universally hated and such a short hand for being the bad guys in baseball that even the enemy little league team in The Bad New Bears was called The Yankees!

And yet the Yankees are the most popular team, get the highest ratings and, oh yes, play in the biggest media market in the country. So SOMEONE must like them!

So as painful as it may be for the Red Sox fan, I have found 10 reasons. Now excuse me as I hold my nose as I type this.

10 Reasons why the

New York Yankees

winning the 2011 World Series

would be good for baseball

1. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not like Curtis Granderson

Trust me, I’ve tried. I try to hate EVERYONE on the Yankees. But there is something about Granderson that is just appealing.

He is respectful of the past, good in the community, clever in interviews (and will be a terrific broadcaster) and plays the game all out.

If anyone understands the Yankee tradition and where being on a championship Yankee team would mean, it is Granderson.

It’s tough to root for a Yankee… but it is easy to root for Granderson.

2. A 6th Ring for Derek Jeter… and its repercussions

There will soon be a big and ugly showdown over Derek Jeter’s playing time in New York. And 6 rings for Jeter will make the Jorge Posada controversy look like two people having a friendly cup of coffee together.

Can you IMAGINE the refrains from Jeter’s followers if he gets benched (as most shortstops in their late 30s do)?

“He has as many rings as Jordan!”

“He has led the Yankees to World Series titles in three different decades!”

“How can you sit him?”

It might be worth sitting through a Yankee World Series parade just to see that happen.

3. Watching Girardi and Posada interact in the World Series celebration

The second worst kept secret in baseball* is the tense relationship between manager Joe Girardi and one time catcher Jorge Posada.

Posada took Girardi’s job as a player and Girardi is benching Posada as the manager. And Posada, a DH who can’t hit, has no power nor speed, is peeved that he *GASP* isn’t playing full time.

Posada probably would be reduced to “token pinch hitting role in a blow out” this post season. That is if Posada doesn’t have ANOTHER hissy fit and quit on the team again.

Would they even nod to each other in a World Series celebration?

(*The worst kept secret in baseball is the whole Kevin Costner/Cal Ripken/Cal Ripken’s wife thing.)

4. It will be interesting to see how A-Rod will come out badly in after a Yankees Championship

I am telling you… A-Rod could come back from his injuries, launch a few bombs down the stretch, get a walk off shot in the Division Series, win ALCS MVP and bat .500 in a Yankees World Series victory and there will STILL be someone writing about how much he sucks.

There will be SOMETHING he does… he won’t use enough pine tar. He’ll foul off one too many pitches. He won’t look intense when the cameras cut away to him during the game. He will actually make an out. And THAT will be what people will focus on.

And he will respond to it stupidly in a press conference.

He will never win no matter how often he DOES win!

5. A ring for Eric Chavez

Of all of Oakland’s stars in the 2000s, only one of them signed a contract extension to stick around the East Bay. That would be Chavez as Giambi, Tejada, Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Damon etc all left for more green, Chavez stuck around and WORE green.

He put in 12+ seasons in Oakland but broke down and signed as an afterthought with the Yankees. He has comeback and become a valuable left handed bat and substitute for the injured A-Rod. The 6 Time Gold Glove winner deserves some jewelry.

6. It will be interesting to see who could criticize Mariano Rivera after another title

He’s going to be the all time saves leader. When he became a closer, Dennis Eckersley was still compiling saves and being among the league leaders. Eck is already in the Hall of Fame.

The only way to make an analogy of Mariano’s greatness is with one of Eckersley’s teammates, Rickey Henderson. When he passed Lou Brock in all stolen base categories and then kept going for another decade, it was clear that we were seeing the kind of player that we may never see again.

If Rivera clinches ANOTHER World Series? And continues to pile up the saves and the super human post season numbers? How could anyone criticize him?

(Oh there will be SOME moron who will.)

7. The aftermath of Multiple Rings for A. J. Burnett

Yankee fans tend to find a players worth the same way you determine the age of a tree: Count the rings!

Was Jeter better than A-Rod? Was DiMaggio better than Williams? Was Mantle better than Mays? The refrain from Yankee fans is always “Who won more rings?”

Well imagine this scenario… A. J. Burnett with two World Series rings and Don Mattingly with zero. Who was the better Yankee? I just counted the rings.

If Burnett wins another, he will have matched the combined total of Mattingly and Thurman Munson. Who was the better Yankee?

Do rings lie?

8. Cashman would leave right after a Yankee title and a bizarre chain reaction would begin

There have been rumblings that Cashman wants out of the Yankees front office. His bizarre press conference after the Rafael Soriano signing showed he wasn’t 100% happy with the direction of the club. If the Yankees win again, he gets to leave on top.

And no doubt he would get a new gig to show he wasn’t just the beneficiary of the deep Yankee pockets. That’s when Brian Cashman will get a very rude awakening in the off season.

“What do you MEAN we can’t sign Pujols, Heath Bell AND C. J. Wilson? Just sign them. It’s only money!”

“Wait a second. What exactly is a salary dump? I have heard that term before but I never understood what it was.”

“Wait, you actually expect your prospects to PLAY? They are just trade bait!”

Meanwhile whichever poor S.O.B. who takes over the Yankee GM job is in for the worst time of their life. Any bad decision they make would have the “Cashman wouldn’t have done that label” and anything positive would just be chalked up to “Well they are the YANKEES. ANYONE could be GM.”

If Cashman fails elsewhere, it would all but confirm that.

And before long Cashman will be hired back… and fired… then rehired… lather… rinse… repeat.

9. It would give Hal and Hank Steinbrenner some teeth.

Let’s face it. Hal and Hank have been a big let down. Their dad was amazing and possibly insane and made hating the Yankees a real national obsession. So when he passed away (with his team the defending champs) the baton was passed to the calculating Hal and the passionate Hank.

It looked like Michael and Sonny were running the team.

Instead it is more like Carlo and Fredo. (If I have to explain any of those names, then I feel badly for you.)

What would make this dynamic work better? A championship of their own! And once Cashman is out (kind of like when Tessio got whacked) they can scream at each other for the direction of the team.

And the two of them could claim THEY were the reason the 2011 title was won and bicker for the next 30 years. The headlines that would create would be worth one Yankee title!

10. Sometimes the Empire needs to Strike Back!

OK enough Godfather references. I need to make some Star Wars analogies here.

What made the original Star Wars movies better than the new ones? Among all the reasons you can come up with, the best answer I would say is that the bad guys were really awesome in the original ones and COULD win.

The prequels had vague villains. Phantom Menaces. Scheming about tax routes. Robots who could all be shut down by one ship blowing up. I don’t even KNOW what they were fighting about in Episode 2.

But in the original Star Wars movies? Right from the start when Vader’s Star Destroyer dwarfed Leia’s ship you saw the Empire meant business. And sometimes the Empire is going to win. Ask the folks on Alderaan. Ask the Rebels squashed by the walkers on Hoth. Ask the pilots flying the rebel cruisers around the new Death Star in Jedi.

The times when the Yankees have been bad or not really championship quality, interest in baseball dipped. The A’s, Pirates, Braves and Blue Jays just don’t make for compelling bad guys!

So yeah, just like watching Duke win in basketball, or the Lakers or the Cowboys winning a title, having the big bad bully win from time to time gets everyone pumped up to BEAT THEM NEXT YEAR!

And Yankee fans who might be offended by the Empire analogy, ask yourself. Who would you rather dress up as at Halloween? A Stormtrooper or a Rebel Pilot? Count all the Darth Vaders on October 31 and compare that tally to all the Luke Skywalkers.

It’s cool to be the Empire.

I am not going to lie to you. That was tough to write. But I needed to get this one out of the way. And I also know that when I write the Red Sox one, people will say “I bet you would NEVER write one about the YANKEES!”

And I would be able to say “I wrote the Yankees one BEFORE the Red Sox one.”

It is a preemptive strike against my critics.

If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.


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