Could it really be true? Could the prince of Hell, once he’s inherited the keys to the castle, be looking to sell?
If some fast swirling rumors are to believed, that could indeed be the case, as the New York Daily News is reporting that multiple “insiders” are saying that the Steinbrenner boys are shopping the Yankees.
Yeah, those New York Yankees.
The Daily News piece is saying that the Steinbrenner boys do not share the same interest in the game as their father George, who bought the team in 1973 for $8.8 million. They cite the infamous “inside sources” as saying the boys are viewing the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, for upwards of $2 billion, as a sign that now is the time to move the team, and early estimate are that they could fetch a cool $3 billion or more in a deal.
The Steinbrenners were quite to issue a rebuttal to the story, with Hal Steinbrenner taking to Twitter to issue his statement, saying “I just read the daily news story. It is complete fiction. Me and my family have no intention of selling the Yankees and expect it to be in the family for years to come.”
Unfortunately, the media has already run with it, and I myself couldn’t pass up the opportunity to discuss it. Just think about it for a moment; this could be a landscape changer for Major League Baseball as a whole.
For as a big of an iconic franchise as the Dodgers were, they don’t even hold a candle to the Yankees. Selling the Yankees is akin to the United States selling a stake in the government. The sale of the Yankees, if it comes to pass, would take years to complete. Bud Selig and his cronies would have to make sure they take every step imaginable to make sure that the bidders are thoroughly investigated and there are assurances that the team can stay afloat. The Yankees are a money making machine, but they do so under the “you have to spend money to make money” mantra. Any new ownership group would have to be able to do so.
What kind of bidding frenzy would this create? And I’m not just talking about new owners looking to get into the game and do so with the most iconic franchise in all of sports. I’m talking about current ownership groups looking to upgrade to a bigger piece of the puzzle. Look at the Red Sox sale for instance. It involved John Henry selling his stake in the Marlins to Jeffrey Loria, who in turn sold his team to Major League Baseball. Baseball ownership is an insider organization, and you have to bet your bottom dollar that the good old boys will want to keep the Yankees under the umbrella.
Then there is the economic landscape to consider. The Yankees have contributed $206.27 million in luxury tax payments since 2003, or 95% of total luxury tax funds. You can bet your bottom dollar that Major League Baseball, who splits the money between players’ benefits, development of the game in underdeveloped countries, and an Industry Growth Fund, counts on the Yankees going over that cap. I can almost guarantee that a new ownership group would do everything in there power to get the Yankees under that cap. Hell, the Steinbrenner regime is doing what it can do get under the cap by next season.
In the end, it comes down to passion. If the Yankees do sell, could they find an owner that was as passionate and no-holds-barred as George Steinbrenner was? Say what you want about George, and I have, but he was as much a part of the Yankee show as the team on the field was and without him, you can see that in the product the Yankees currently have on the field and in the seats. This is a team that needs a passionate owner willing to take risks and spend money.
So we get to sit back and play the waiting game, reading the speculation and denials as they come and go. But I guarantee you that once this comes to pass, and it inevitably will, the circus will come to town.
George would be proud of that.