After watching the press conference yesterday in which the New York Yankees introduced their newest star, Mark Teixeira, this fan was overcome with one thought:
Thank you, George, Hank, and Hal Steinbrenner.
The Steinbrenners have been the principal owners of the team since George bought in, in the 1970s.
Unlike the owners of many professional sports teams, the Steinbrenners have not dealt with the team as just any other investment.
Many franchise owners have looked to line their own pockets first and have sold players whenever possible to keep salary costs down and increase the profit margin.
This goes all the way back to Cornelius McGillicuddy, aka Connie Mack, with the old Athletics teams in the early part of the 20th century.
Connie Mack would develop talent and then sell it off to the highest bidder, never allowing his teams to reach their highest potential—but certainly increasing his fortune.
Current owners have done the same thing. But that certainly cannot be said of the Steinbrenners.
Beginning with George, they have spent money to give their fans the best possible product, to allow for the best chance to bring championships to their team and to New York City.
The efforts have not always been successful, but they have been dependable. One can always count on the Yankees to go after players who will give them a shot at the top.
During the press conference yesterday, different members of the Yankee brain trust, including Hal Steinbrenner, made it clear that their first priority in the offseason was bolstering their starting pitching.
They had about $90 million dollars coming off salary with the departure of Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Ivan Rodriguez, etc.
General Manager Brian Cashman had made it clear they planned to have a lower total salary in 2009 than in 2008. Executives apparently had insisted on this.
For that reason, after making pitching their priority, executives of the Yankees had ruled out pursuing Mark Teixeira, for the most part. They just saw him as too expensive when their goal was to trim salary.
But when Cashman expressed to Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine how impressed he had been with Teixeira, in how he could help them on offense and could improve their defense with his Gold Glove at first base, the executives were willing to write another big check.
No other team in baseball would have taken this step. No other team would have been willing to satisfy fans and explain to shareholders why their dividends weren't any higher.
Of course, the principal shareholders were the ones making the ultimate decision of whether to pay Teixeira what he was asking.
And they made that decision, reducing their own profit margins in order to give a better product to their fans.
Thank you once again, Steinbrenners.