Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Worst Kept Secret
2007-08-03 06:05
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

We all know that George Steinbrenner isn't the man he used to be. For several years now, the press has hinted at this fact as Steinbrenner has receeded from the public eye. He rarely speaks directly to the media. There have been whispers that the Boss is sick, that he's got dementia, but nobody has come right out and said as much, which is more than a little curious considering just how public a figure Steinbrenner has been. But now Franz Lidz, formerly of Sports Illustrated, drops the bomb.

Here is the story. Discuss.

2007-08-03 06:37:25
1.   pistolpete
Oh man. Do we have to discuss it?

Sad, just sad. And watching 'Bronx is Burning' only serves as a reminder of what once was.

Hang in there George - maybe the boys can win just one more ring for ya while you're still semi-aware of it.

2007-08-03 06:42:36
2.   dianagramr
Sigh .... well he HAS had a robust and trying life.

(disclaimer: I have him in a very informal, between-friends "dead pool" this year, but its still a bummer to read of his decline)

2007-08-03 06:43:38
3.   Shaun P
On the one hand, I'm glad for some confirmation of what has been suspected for so long.

On the other hand, I'm embarrassed with myself for typing that first sentence. The man is 77 years old, and huge public figure or not, everyone deserves to spend their last years however they wish. If George didn't want the word out, maybe we should simply acknowledge how sad it is, and move along. Like Alex alluded to in his title, its not like his condition is a real surprise.

God Bless you, George Steinbrenner. I hope you are not suffering, and that the Yanks win you one more ring.

2007-08-03 06:44:11
4.   seamus
2 that is disturbing. though, I do get pleasure out of the Darwin awards.
2007-08-03 06:49:22
5.   dianagramr
4 re: dead pool .... no money involved ... THAT would really be crass and insensitive

I do have some standards ...

George's entire life will make some darn good biopic some day ...

2007-08-03 07:03:55
6.   Shaun P
5 Since the Boss is not himself, its a shame he didn't have someone following him around to get the story out of the horse's mouth before this happened.

Can you imagine the amount of research that would have to go into a biography of George Steinbrenner? The man contradicted himself so many times, you'd have a hard time knowing what he really thought, how he really felt, reviewing source material. And that's before you got into talking to the people who were around him!

2007-08-03 07:12:09
7.   64cardinals
Whatever anyone thinks of Steinbrenner, he has a right to his privacy. If he prefers not to discuss his situation, or have it made public, that is his business. The writer who put out that article is a dispicible pissant, and this is the lowest form of yellow journalism. He should be fired from whatever rag has hired to do this. This guy is a waste of life as far as humans go, and actually gives ambulance-chasing lawyers a good name.

And I hate the Yankees.

2007-08-03 07:12:18
8.   64cardinals
Whatever anyone thinks of Steinbrenner, he has a right to his privacy. If he prefers not to discuss his situation, or have it made public, that is his business. The writer who put out that article is a dispicible pissant, and this is the lowest form of yellow journalism. He should be fired from whatever rag has hired to do this. This guy is a waste of life as far as humans go, and actually gives ambulance-chasing lawyers a good name.

And I hate the Yankees.

2007-08-03 07:20:26
9.   Mattpat11
The thing that tipped me off more than anything wasn't the long periods of silence from George. It was Yorre, Cashman and Clemens, all within the period of about a month making public statements about "going to dinner with George"

It was almost like they were going out of their way to bring him up and make people think nothing was wrong.

2007-08-03 07:37:18
10.   pistolpete
I guess all the recent 'statements' weren't from Steinbrenner at all, but perhaps crafted by Rubenstein himself? Maybe with Cashman's help?
2007-08-03 07:38:31
11.   rufuswashere
Perfect title, Alex. "Worst Kept Secret" indeed (unless you include the fact that Farnsworth is crappy pitcher).
2007-08-03 07:48:16
12.   Alex Belth
I don't think what Lindz did was unethical. Creepy, maybe. It's sabotage journalism, ala 60 Minutes for sure. I don't know that I would ever feel comfortable doing something like that but I don't know if he overstepped any bounds.

I also understand the idea of giving an old man his peace, leaving him alone, BUT...

I have to say, on some level this is the chicken's coming home to roost. Steinbrenner was a holy prick for years and years and if he miraculously became well now, he'd be a holy prick again. Just because he's old and sick doesn't change the fact that he was an incorrigible jerk.

2007-08-03 07:49:19
13.   Schteeve
Sad and scary. And I agree with all those who think George deserves his privacy and dignity.
2007-08-03 07:51:17
14.   Schteeve
12 Incorrigible jerk or not, he's a human being in the last fading moments of his life. He seems to not have a full grasp on his faculties, and as such I think the curious and the rubberneckers should find someone else to explore.
2007-08-03 08:08:51
15.   JL25and3
I wonder how much of the apparent "dementia" in that conversation could be explained if George simply wasn't wearing his hearing aids.
2007-08-03 08:14:41
16.   Alex Belth
I understand your feelings about George being treated with some respect or care. I'm really of two minds about this. One one hand I agree. What is private is private. On the other hand, it's easy to look at George with rose-tinted glasses now--and I'm saying this because I'm guilty of doing this myself--when he was an awful guy, a bully, a lout, for a long time.
2007-08-03 08:19:21
17.   JL25and3
16 I'm with you, Alex. What's private is a bit less private when you're talking about a guy who spent several decades making sure that he was the center of attention, and being a complete dick about it.
2007-08-03 08:23:11
18.   Jersey
16,17 Hear hear. Steinbrenner is a public figure and should be treated as such.
2007-08-03 08:26:02
19.   pwicked
The real "holy prick" here is Lidz and pretty much anyone who feels this sort of "journalism" is useful. Yeah GS is getting old. Wow. Who new? But I guess this is what holy pricks do, try to "out-prick" each other.
2007-08-03 08:27:13
20.   Schteeve
18 To what end?
2007-08-03 08:36:11
21.   mbtn01
That Steinbrenner is in frail health and that his kids cannot wait for him to die is not Franz Lidz's fault. Incredible, brutal story.
2007-08-03 08:37:38
22.   alsep73
The worst part about the Lidz story is that, until now, there seemed to be something of a gentleman's agreement among all the NYC-area sportswriters (all of whom, I'm sure, know how bad off Steinbrenner is) to allude to George's reduced role without humiliating him by publishing the gory details, and now that, as they say, the story is out there, there's going to be a full-court press (especially at the tabs) to write more stories about his dementia.

I don't disagree that George is reaping what he sowed, but this is something unavoidable that has nothing to do with baseball, and two wrongs don't make a right.

2007-08-03 08:39:01
23.   Max
16 17 Right on. My beach reading this year is Mel's autobiography. Mel is relatively easy on George in the book, because he's so classy, but there's no question in reading between the lines what kind of guy George was.

George fed the monster that is the press that is hounding him now, and he'll have to deal with it until someone physically pulls the plug.

2007-08-03 08:42:55
24.   ric
My great-grandma had alzheimers and its nasty to watch somebody lose their marbles... she would always yell at the tv and she inexplicably LOVED when George Foreman would be on... she would literally be clapping at a Foremen Grill commercial... you just have to laugh whenever you can..
2007-08-03 08:44:57
25.   yankz
Yeah, I'm with Alex. That said, I'm really going to miss him when he's gone. I seriously doubt the next owner will want to win as badly.
2007-08-03 08:45:22
26.   Alex Belth
Dick Schaap's book on Steinbrenner is a good summer read. The stuff on his pre-Yankee days, as well as his first suspension is good. Also, for any nerds like me who ever go to the library to find old micro film, "That Damn Yankee," a Tony Kornheiser profile of George from the NY Times magazine (April 9, 1978) is a must-read. Possibly, the best magazine piece on George...
2007-08-03 08:46:34
27.   Alex Belth
Yeah, that's the damndest thing about George. I hated him for many years, then grew to appreciate him. Regardless, I will miss him. Funny, right?
2007-08-03 08:47:40
28.   Mattpat11
I really hope Dolan doesn't get his paws on this team
2007-08-03 08:49:40
29.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i understand the position that steinbrenner is a public figure and therefore fair game. i am old enough to remember george the hell raiser. i understand that the tabloids benefited from his antics and tirades every bit as much as he seemed to bask in the attention he was given.

the one aspect of this story that rubs me the wrong way is that it seems as though the guy is defenseless at this point. it was one thing when the cat still had its claws, but now this kind of thing seems to be in poor taste. to me.

2007-08-03 08:53:32
30.   Yankee Fan In Boston
speaking of major league baseball team owners (a terrible attempt at a segway there), but would it be wrong for me to try to buy a piece of the cubs? i think that would be amazing. (and one heck of a resume builder.)

2007-08-03 08:56:12
31.   Shaun P
28 That would be just about the worst possible turn of events. At least we'd all know who to blame - Steve Swindal.

27 Alex, its easy to forgive George, but hard to forget, both the awful stuff and the good stuff. That he seemed to turn towards the good (mostly) at the end is what, I think, brings on my own feelings of goodwill towards him.

2007-08-03 09:04:44
32.   Jersey
20 Millions of people drop their hard-earned cash on a product that Steinbrenner owns and has personally shaped, and a product his family may continue to shape after he's gone. That means there's a natural interest for people, an interest that Steinbrenner himself helped to create. The reporter's just doing his job.
2007-08-03 09:07:48
33.   Raf
I just find it amusing (and maybe a bit sad) that what many people find (found?) appealing about Steinbrenner is that he had a big checkbook.
2007-08-03 09:08:09
34.   pistolpete
31 Cuban is definitely an intriguing possibility as a successor, but does anyone get the feeling the Yankees would be 10 times more hated with him at the helm?

I don't doubt he'd do whatever it took to win more championships, however.

2007-08-03 09:14:57
35.   Raf
27 I never really hated him, I hated the way he acted. I didn't like the way he seemed to meddle in day to day affairs. I didn't like the way he didn't trust his baseball people. I didn't like the way he did business. All under the guise that "he wanted to win."

I was taught that if a man has nothing else, he had his word, and I can understand why Yogi stayed away all those years.

I don't know if I could ever truly appreciate him. Because in order to do that, you have to know more about him. It's a bit difficult, because he is so intertwined with the Yankees.

I am saddened by his current condition, and it's a bit tough seeing him like this because of the power he once had. It makes me a bit uneasy actually. Anytime you see the mortality of someone who was larger than life, it has to be unsettling.

2007-08-03 09:15:25
36.   Shaun P
30 I actually believe that MLB forbids that kind of public ownership of teams, but don't quote me on that; there was that "buy the Expos" thing a few years ago. Maury Brown would know.

wsporter, if you're out there, take a look at the "About Us" section of that site.

2007-08-03 09:50:11
37.   Chyll Will
30 You mean we can win a modern environmentally-friendly method of conveyance by simply writing about issues of public domain? Where do I sign up?? >;)

I somewhat dislike Steinbrenner, and I dislike the press and the manner in which we have come to find out about his present state, but as I have no control over either of them, I worry not. I appreciate and respect both for what they are capable of doing. Funny, I had a lot more to say about it, but everyone's making such good points that I can't add anything valuable at the moment.

2007-08-03 10:02:11
38.   williamnyy23
Aside from the slimy way he gained access to George (befriending an 84-year old buddy in a wheel chair), my biggest problem with the story is it just isn't very good. There is very little meaningful attribution and even less insight into George's current condition. Instead, it reads as a recollection of Lidz' journalism career with a conclusion that is pretty obvious. We all know that George is sick...we just don't know how sick and with what.

I also must admit that I find Alex' "what comes around" argument in 16 very disappointing. George may have been a tyrant, but he also had an under publicized generous side. Also, most of the times he picked a fight, it was with a big shot (e.g., Martin, Jackson, Winfield, etc.), or an employee he was paying very well.

If someone wants to stick it to George, they should have done it then. Waiting until his health is in severe decay is cowardice at best.

I have a feeling that when Roger Clemens talked to G.S. this year, the Boss let him in on the worst kept secret. It's pure speculation on my part, but I have a feeling George revealed a serious illness (Alzheimer's maybe) and perhaps the chance that he might not last another season. If that's true, this year takes on a lot more urgency. I would love to see the Yankees win one more for the Boss, because like him or not, he has been one of the most influential people in Yankee history, and has been as responsible for the team's on and off field success as anyone...more than Jeter, Torre, and anyone else you can name. When George passes, it will truly be the end of an era.

2007-08-03 10:11:59
39.   pistolpete
I've been in and out of YouTube all day looking at Steinbrenner clips:

Here's a couple of noteworthy ones:

- (Hey, bring back Yankees franks!)

- (Less filling, George!)

- (this one makes me laugh the hardest, although I don't think it was actually George's voice.)

2007-08-03 10:25:59
40.   JL25and3
38 I have considerable respect for George's generous side, but it's hardly under-publicized. For 30+ years I've been reading stories about all the wonderful things he does that nobody ever writes about. They're still terrific things, but the "under-publicized" angle became disingenuous many, many years ago.
2007-08-03 10:43:57
41.   williamnyy23
40 I disagree...often times, when you read of Steinbrenner's charity, it is buried as an afterthought. For example, how could an article such as this, which dregs up the overblown dental insurance story, not spend time exploring Steinbrenner's charitable work.
2007-08-03 11:35:06
42.   Emma Span
7 19 I don't totally agree. If Steinbrenner retired, and stepped out of public life, then yes, his rights to privacy should be respected. But he's still ostensibly running the team, as his spokesman and employees insist whenever asked. As such, his health is a legitimate public issue.

Though I agree with Alex that going to his house unannounced is not something I would have felt comfortable doing, I do think that until Steinbrenner officially steps down, exploring his true condition is fair game. That doesn't mean, of course, that it's not extremely sad... Steinbrenner may have been a jerk -- and a criminal, for that matter, albeit thoroughly white collar -- but he doesn't deserve to go out like that.

2007-08-03 13:54:28
43.   pwicked
42 So all GS has to do is step down and holy pricks like Lidz will cease tabloid journalism? Methinks not. It has nothing to do with his subject, Lidz has ZERO class. The only thing extremely sad here, as someone else noted, is that there will be a multitude of classless prick writers eager to follow suit.
2007-08-03 16:49:47
44.   MikeK
28 FSM help us. Dolan and the rest of the ownership group has destroyed my knicks fandom, possibly for good. And the Rangers were on the ropes, though last year's team, at least after Avery came on board, may have rescued them. The rest of the article was revelatory (I'm rooting for either of the daughters) but the Dolan thing sent shivers down my spine.

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