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End of the (Family) Affair?
2007-03-29 05:18
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Life after George has just taken a turn. Steinbrenner's daughter, Jennifer field for divorce yesterday, leaving Steve Swindal's future with the club uncertain. Tyler Kepner tackles the story in the Times.

Comments (56)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-03-29 05:38:40
1.   Knuckles
Damn, and I just got married...
2007-03-29 06:02:37
2.   Murray
Wow. Just, wow. Wasn't expecting this kind of seismic shakeup to the hierarchy.
2007-03-29 06:13:06
3.   Sliced Bread
Oy. This is not somehow A-Rod's fault, right?
2007-03-29 06:54:16
4.   Shaun P
Just speculation, but they wouldn't be the first couple to file for divorce and then reconcile before the divorce was finalized.

The last few years, I haven't been worried if the Boss were to suddenly pass away. I am now.

2007-03-29 07:46:00
5.   Mike from Hoboken
I think Jeter is next in line of succession. Or the Speaker of the House. I forget which.
2007-03-29 07:46:25
6.   rbj
I wonder if Steve's DUI might have anything to do with it, such as being an alcoholic and unable/unwilling to get sober. This is just idle speculation on my part.

Steve could continue to run the Yankees, even after a divorce, if the Steinbrenner family wants him in that spot; it'll just make things a bit more complicated for the lawyers.

2007-03-29 07:47:15
7.   Josh Wilker
On the radio this morning, Mike Greenberg was theorizing that the exit of Swindal's patience-preaching will usher in a new era of desperate overspending.
2007-03-29 07:53:10
8.   Knuckles
6 I wouldn't want to speculate as to any kind of alcohol problem, but one of the articles I read today stated that the DUI occurred on Valentine's night, and Swindal was pulled over (presumably alone or at least not with the wife) 30 miles from their Tampa home...which raised eyebrows around the organization.
2007-03-29 07:57:13
9.   Cliff Corcoran
Here's the key part of that article:

"Joe Malloy, was married to Jessica Steinbrenner. Malloy, who is now an assistant middle school principal in Tampa, was an influential Yankees general partner in the 1990s before he and Jessica Steinbrenner divorced."

Dude's an assistant middle school principal. It's a long fall from the top of Legends Field.

I too fear that the relative calm of the last two years could be far shorter-lived than we all had hoped as a result of this.

2007-03-29 07:57:22
10.   dianagramr
3

Pavano denies having a hand in it also ...

2007-03-29 08:00:08
11.   yankz
Whatever, just hand me the keys to the stadium.
2007-03-29 08:09:18
12.   The Mick 536
Don't it look like Steve knows that he has a big problemo.

Not worried about any reprecussions. Feel bad for anyone subjected to public scrutiny and scorn, especially if the origins stem from a domestic. Could happen to anyone. Here, powerful woman, powerful man, and George is your pop-in-law. Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner? How about the first time? "Dad, this is my new boyfriend Steve." "Hello, Mr. Steinbrenner...."

Best news. Phelps goes North!

2007-03-29 08:11:29
13.   Sliced Bread
7 No doubt, this news boosts the Yankee-hating esprit de corps among the laughing hyenas at ESPN.

Look, the Yanks are a billion dollar corporation. The franchise will not be derailed by a divorce in the family, no matter how acrimonious it might become.
Whomever replaces Swindal as George's heir apparent is of no consequence at this point.
Bump in the road, people.
Better this happens now than after George is gone.

2007-03-29 08:31:26
14.   dianagramr
5

Smithers should be next in line ...

2007-03-29 08:35:12
15.   unpopster
George, give the keys to Cashman!!!
2007-03-29 08:41:29
16.   Sliced Bread
14 ... then the robotic Richard Simmons.
2007-03-29 08:52:52
17.   joejoejoe
If I'm Judy Nathan today I'm worried. Rudy Giuliani might prefer to run the Yankees than the country and his eyes might wander Jessica's way in search of wife #4 and championship #27.
2007-03-29 09:09:52
18.   Sliced Bread
And leave it to the family that owns the hapless Knicks to top the Steinbrenner clan's misfortune.

Chris Carlin (of the Imus show) had a good line about the leg that washed up on Dolan's private beach yesterday:

Dolan signed it to a 5 year, $50 million dollar contract.

2007-03-29 09:10:06
19.   joejoejoe
17 D'oh! I meant Jennifer. I'd like to see Steinbrenner father some more kids in his seventies like Anthony Quinn. He can name then next one Dereik or Jeterina.
2007-03-29 09:18:43
20.   Jim Dean
9 Is it just me or it is really sad that Jessica has such a poor choice in men AND that Big Stein looks to promote those clowns.

Shoot, if Joe Malloy is now a assistant middle school principal, where's Steve going to wind up? The manager at Bada Bing's?

I agree - the furture does not look good. Long live live King George!

17 That's a great idea! Save the country and the Yanks. Big Rudy did give the city his best Stein impression. He could do it again!

2007-03-29 09:19:27
21.   Shawn Clap
I like how sleeping with Jennifer Steinbrenner is a prerequisite for running the Yankees.

Since the taxpayers are footing the bill for the New Stadium, they should let the taxpayers vote on it.

I vote for the actor Jason Alexander.

2007-03-29 09:40:06
22.   yankz
In that case, I vote for George Costanza.
2007-03-29 09:41:53
23.   Zack
I too fear the future now, which is weird to say, as ten years ago I would have rejoiced at the news that there was a chance George would sell the team. Maybe Cashman somehow new this was coming and was just trying to rebuild the farm system as fast as he could before he lost power again :)
2007-03-29 09:59:28
24.   Sliced Bread
20 23 The future of the Yankees does not look good? Really? Because Jenny Steinbrenner is kicking Swindal to the curb?

Egads! What now?!
Cashman extends Minky's contract into J.D. Drew territory?!
Phil Hughes for Gil Meche?!
A-Rod and Cano for Bonds?!

Alright, I'm being stoopit, but can somebody please explain why I should fear a Yankees future without Steve Swindal?

And since this is all rampant speculation at this point, I submit my theory that the problems between Steve and Jenny stem from a tiff over the disappointing demise of their beloved Tar Heels in the NCAA basketball tournament. Can't they put this March Madness behind them and live happily ever after? Apparently, the future of the New York Yankees depends on it!

2007-03-29 10:02:02
25.   Alex Belth
Here's Buster Olney:

George Steinbrenner's stated plans were for Steve Swindal, his son-in-law, to take over the Yankees, but the reality is that almost certainly won't happen, now that Swindal and Steinbrenner's daughter plan to divorce. And within the Yankees' world, this is a big deal.
On two separate occasions, Swindal served as the organization's Jimmy Carter and helped to broker a détente between the owner and manager Joe Torre. When the contract of general manager Brian Cashman was set to expire after the 2005 season, he was fed up, seemingly on his way out. But again, Swindal served as the middle man, helping to draft the contractual guarantees of chain-of-command powers that Cashman got in his new three-year deal.

Torre and Cashman might have worked out their issues with the owner even if Swindal had not been around. But the role of heir apparent has come with some power within the Yankees' organization and, as of today, there are questions about who will fill the power vacuum created by Swindal's departure from authority.

The Yankees are a billion-dollar company run by an accomplished group of executives who work for Steinbrenner, so it's not as if the structure is going to collapse with the breakup of the Swindal marriage. Cashman, president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost have worked for Steinbrenner for years, answering to him daily. Steinbrenner may not be as comfortable operating in the public eye as he once was, but he still maintains regular contact with his employees -- probably delegating more than he used to, relying on their judgment.

But there will come a day when Steinbrenner cedes control of the organization, and it's unclear who will take over, and if that person is as committed to maintaining the Yankees the way Steinbrenner has. Harold and Henry Steinbrenner have executive standing within the Yankees' organization, but they are not as hands-on as Swindal has been, choosing to focus on other ventures. With Swindal leaving, and Steinbrenner set to turn 77 this summer, we still don't know if one of the Steinbrenner sons will be more aggressive in seizing a place in the line of succession.

For now, the departure of Swindal will have little impact on the direction of the baseball operations. The retention of Cashman has been the primary reason why the Yankees have operated in such a different manner the last 18 months, focusing on the rebuilding of the organization's pitching and veering away from the ugly cycle of free spending on 30-something veteran superstars. Scouts with other teams say the Yankees now have one of the best collections of good young arms in baseball, and seemingly, the club is slowly on a path to rebuilding the kind of talent base it had in the early '90s, before the 1996-2001 dynasty. Steinbrenner has signed off on this shift; there is little reason to think he will suddenly alter his stance, now that Swindal is gone.

But we probably won't really know about the nature of the new Yankees power structure until the next time stuff starts to go bad in the standings -- like spending weeks out of first place. That's when some family member will speak in Steinbrenner's stead, as Swindal did occasionally. And it is always possible that the impetuosity that is as much a part of Steinbrenner's legacy as his pursuit of success will once again become a factor.

There's no telling what will happen now if the Yankees get off to a bad start, or if the thin rotation becomes a problem. Cashman saved Torre's job last fall, seemingly talking Steinbrenner out of firing him, and with Torre's contract set to expire after this season, we don't yet know if he can do it again.

Steinbrenner's appearance with his daughter, Jessica, and son-in-law Felix Lopez at a Yankees game Wednesday seemed well-timed, an outward sign that the owner is still surrounded by family. But soon enough, with Opening Day just days away, appearances will be shoved aside by action, and reaction.

2007-03-29 10:26:08
26.   Sliced Bread
25 "But soon enough, with Opening Day just days away, appearances will be shoved aside by action, and reaction."

... And overreaction, as I see it.

Cashman streamlining the chain of command, and marginalizing George's Tampa toadies was no small feat, and it did not happen by mistake, or because he was married to a Steinbrenner. Cash is in charge, and has been entrusted by the Steinbrenners.
The departure of Swindal would change this how?

I said it before, and I'll say it until evidence suggests otherwise: this divorce will not derail the franchise.
Just another distraction that ESPN and others will make a federal case of, and many will overreact to.

2007-03-29 10:59:10
27.   rbj
The Steinbrenner kids want to keep their inheritance a nice big pile. In order to do that, they will have to keep the team on the field competitive. A Yankee team that goes back to the 1980s (shudder) will see an attendance drop, YES ratings drop, and souvenier sales drop. This is a family run business that can look long term, not a corporation that looks no further than the next quarter's sales numbers and how that will affect the stock price.

Also, even though other teams hate the Yankees, the Yanks are the number one road draw -- they need the Bronx Bombers.

Still, Steve Swindal deserves a dope slap for ticking off his wife.

2007-03-29 11:05:07
28.   hoppystone
Not to mention: good thing this didn't happen AFTER he'd taken control, right?
2007-03-29 11:17:40
29.   standuptriple
Please, please, please DO NOT let a woman take over this franchise...EVER! Living in the SF area and watching the steady decline of the 49ers ownership and her ridiculous himbo, Dr. York.
2007-03-29 11:46:43
30.   Zack
29 Not sure what to say about that one...

But 27, what better way to get inheritance then to sell for 1 billion? Rumor had it that the sons have showed interest in selling in the past, so who knows.

I'm not saying I am sitting here shaking or anything, its just that the team seemed to be headed in a very good direction, and any change in the top could, could, harm that...

2007-03-29 12:01:45
31.   JL25and3
30 First off, don't let your girlfriend read 29.

26 I think the fear really is that Cashman's consolidation of power could be undone. Swindal was always seen as the guy who had George's confidence and a relatively sane organizational approach. Now, no one knows who stands between the Tampa fools and Mr. Steinbrenner.

I don't expect things will fall apart quickly - but let's see what happens if they start to underperform. Part of me really does fear the announcement that Billy Sonnors is going to straighten out some struggling pitcher...

2007-03-29 12:02:05
32.   JL25and3
* Connors. D'oh!
2007-03-29 12:11:56
33.   Emma Span
It's amazing how feudal the whole situation is - right now the Yankees seem more like a fiefdom than a multibillion dollar corporation. I guess it's the same for a lot of businesses, but it just seems like such an outdated way of doing things.

And speaking of outdated... 29, you ARE kidding, right?

2007-03-29 12:31:43
34.   Alex Belth
Yeah, 29, are you for real?
2007-03-29 12:35:54
35.   dianagramr
29

Kim Ng on the line for you triple ...

2007-03-29 12:40:07
36.   hoppystone
and Hillary Clinton holding on line 2...
2007-03-29 12:45:21
37.   sam2175
Alex, saw your picks in WSJ. Are you really expecting the Yankees to decline by THAT much? They will suffer the worst decline of all teams in baseball in terms of win totals?

If Yankees could survive 2005, and emerge with the AL East title, they should be able to do the same this year. Yes, Boston is better, and so is the rest of the competition, and Boston might win AL East this year, as you predict. But I still don't see Yankees suffering the worst decline with the kind of talent on this roster.

2007-03-29 12:46:31
38.   dianagramr
Ms. York's bio

http://www.sf49ers.com/team/front_office_detail.php?PRKey=1

2007-03-29 12:50:19
39.   wsporter
29 Trip, you're really just screwing around with that right? Please say you're just screw'n around with that! There is no point in dying on that mountain and no shame in turning round and climbing off it! We know you're just kidding around. Right?
2007-03-29 12:57:03
40.   Marcus
33 I completely agree. One day Swindal has most of the control over the team, and seems to be doing a good job, all with the full confidence of Steinbrenner. The next day they're talking about completely removing him from the organization? Unless he did some really terrible things to cause this divorce and they just came to light with the filing yesterday, I don't see how you can just discard such a huge (and seemingly effective) part of the organization.

Is this how Steinbrenner runs (ran?) his shipping business?

2007-03-29 13:07:55
41.   OldYanksFan
From my experience, divorce is a crappy, crappy thing. And 23 years! That's a lot of investment to loose.

Hey guys... did you know that in the last 10 years, over 75% of divorces nationwide were initied by the woman?

""Although their marriage is dissolving, they remain friends and maintain a strong mutual respect," the statement said. "They are devoted to their two children and will make them their shared focus."

Yes... they will both be emotional wrecks for a while, and Steve will lose at least 1/2 of everything he has woked for the last 20+ years, as well as losing his role in the Yankees. I'm sure he will feel very friendly.

And just guessing here, but the DUI may have been a result of the divorce, rather then the other way around. I can't see him having a drinking problem and being able to do his (or what was his) job.

I wonder if Joe Malloy could use an assistant.

2007-03-29 13:12:30
42.   OldYanksFan
From Steve at WasWatching:

"Andy Phillips, yesterday, was placed on outright waivers. The move... means that by tomorrow Phillips will be claimed by another team or sent to the minors by the Yankees."

Its too bad, as I liked Andy and hoped he could be a role player with us. Lets hope Phelps is for real, and lasts.

2007-03-29 13:17:36
43.   standuptriple
Yes, I was joking. Marge Schott might haunt me this very night for it though. The 9ers hand-over was very nasty and it was based on extreme circumstances (gambling). It just seems like they (both her and her husband) don't care at all about a proud franchise and just enjoy the status of being an NFL owner and, of course, the gravy train.
2007-03-29 13:32:25
44.   Zack
Is this the most excruciating part of actual Spring Training or what? A few days to go, the games become just fillers, without the everyday players, all the news is who gets cut for the last spots...Sigh, I wish it were Monday already!!
2007-03-29 13:45:03
45.   Javi Javi
42 Yahoo MLB rumors confirmed this--looks like Phelps beat out Andy. I think Phelps is the man, but I agree about losing Andy--he's a likeable guy, and you have to feel bad about the stuff that happened with his Mom this year, and his wife the year prior. I'm sure 'Bama is not happy.
2007-03-29 13:59:20
46.   wsporter
45 I saw that last night reported at the NJ Media Group. Just told my son about Andy, who was his big hero from C-bus when they would visit the T.W. Tides and the R. Braves. He's not happy. "Phelps better be good" is his thought; funny, it's also mine.

Andy may clear waivers and be at SWB. I could live with that. Maybe he needs to get some consistant ab's to get straightened out and a little work at 3b wouldn't hurt either.

2007-03-29 14:31:44
47.   Bama Yankee
45 There was some discussion about Andy near the end of the last thread.

Actually, even though you are correct to assume that I am not happy that Andy got cut, I saw it coming. My biggest disappointment is that he did not perform better when given the chance (although he did have those two hot months last summer when he was a triples hitting machine).

My guess is that Andy will end up in SWB and Phelps will have a solid year. I would certainly be happy with that.

2007-03-29 15:03:06
48.   Mike from Hoboken
Hey 29, next time save yourself the time and trouble and just type in "I'm an idiot." It's much faster.
2007-03-29 15:12:01
49.   standuptriple
48 Um yeah. You sure showed me. Save your energy next time, ok?
2007-03-29 15:51:31
50.   yankz
Does anyone else ever use TVU Player? Did they get rid of ESPN?

Also, for chooseandwatch.com and channelchooser.com, is ESPN a few hours behind or something?

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-03-29 16:42:23
51.   Marcus
"I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout.

"You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there — always have."

2007-03-29 17:11:37
52.   Chyll Will
Keep it moving, standup. You're a cool and knowledgeable guy, I see it was just a joke that should have stayed home 43. I've done that more than a few times, it happens. I think the spanking's over now, just be careful next time, 'kay?

More to the point, with certain sports owners that treat their teams like expensive baubels or personal playthings as opposed to communities of people who depend either literally (employees) or viscerally (fans) on these teams functioning at maximum potential. James Dolan is the biggest ass in sports ownership that I can think of at the moment. It wasn't long ago that many thought the same thing of Steinbrenner, so it's interesting how that table has turned once he got a winning combination again. How much of that did he actually play a part in, besides funding? Is it a measurable quantity or is it subjective? Compare that to many of the other owners or ownership corporations running other teams in baseball and other sports. How do they measure up and in terms of what? Does quality of ownership make a difference? Is style a mainstay in determining a regimes' success or failure?

Am I wrong to ponder the idea that it wasn't until outspoken, cartoonish owners like Steinbrenner or Marge Schott were removed from day-to-day operations that the quality of their organizations' product began to noticeably improve, or was that just a coincidence? And could that serve as a moratorium on, say, Mark Cuban? Could the same be said for non-owners like Nelson Doubleday? And does Wayne Hizengua get a free pass for selling off most of his players right after winning the World Series?

Now how does that relate to the current state of affairs in the front office? I'd say, "Be Careful What You Wish For." Some have dreamed of a day with No Steinbrenner, some dread the day. If George were not running the team at all tomorrow, who would you want to see in place, as opposed to whom you expect? Of course, that's not for us to make a decision on, but that's the crux of the situation.

Personally, I could easily see Cashman eventually running the whole shebang as the head of a cadre of investors after the children get bored or overwhelmed with it and sell their interests. I would HATE to see Rudy own the team. Maybe it will stay in trust for a decade or so until a modern King Arthur comes to draw the franchise out of the stone. Hell, if there's that much indifference from the clan after the Big Chief is gone, maybe I will own a piece of it someday; that wouldn't be so bad. Then we'd have Bronx Banter Night (whatever date is best) with free root beer and "Peep My PECOTA" and instead of "YMCA", the grounds crew could dance to "Ph.D in VORP" by wsporter or "F@#$ ESPN" by the Bronx Banter All-Stars...

See? It's not so bad.

2007-03-29 19:23:54
53.   Chyll Will
...well I tried. Sorry...
2007-03-29 19:48:19
54.   Jim Dean
52 No, no good stuff.

And the great idea is....

Take the Yankees public.

If the Packers could do it, so could the Yanks. They would make an absolute killing on the first pass. Then it would be tough to sustain as an investment. Still in thirty-five years of Big Stein they went from 10 million to 1 billion.

So, if you had dropped 1g on the "stock" you have 100k right now. I have to imagine that's a nice annual return - who's the financial wiz?

And that's assuming the market valuation is only 1 billion. If it's YES (including the network and the Nets), that could be a few B.

Shoot, I'd buy some Yankee stock.

It's weird - in that scenario the price would probably climb higher as they won than if they turn a real profit. It's the brand that increases in value, not the products. The brand represents winning.

A fascinating case study to be sure. I wonder if the MLB owners would allow it. Thanks Will!

2007-03-29 20:26:44
55.   wsporter
52 I don't mean to be didactic or disingenuous Chyll but that's Ph.D. in Win Shares!
2007-03-30 06:41:40
56.   Chyll Will
55 Not at all, Sport, but it'll be tough to rhyme "Win Shares" with an impressive honor; I'll discuss it with Alex so we can make the appropriate changes on the album jacket >;)

54 You're quite welcome. Let's just hope that Carl Icahn doesn't get involved so he can "make the appropriate changes", although if Cablevision had fully gone public a few years back, I would've wholeheartedly supported his involvement.

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