Lately, people have been asking me if I am related to Michael Carbonaro. When I tell them yes, they say, “really, how does he do all of his tricks?” Then I realize that they don’t mean my cousin who actually works for IBM, they mean Michael Carbonaro, the star of the hit TV show The Carbonaro Effect. The show touts “ordinary situations and extraordinary illusions.” You see, Michael moves everyday people into believing that his tricks are actually real. Part magician and part prankster, Carbonaro has his audience hooked. And as I reflect back on what is needed to get the Yankee team and organization back on track, I realize that the answer is right under my nose- The Steinbrenner Effect.
As a child of the seventies and eighties, there was not a headline or soundbite that went by without a mention or dramatic statement or brilliant move made by our Boss, George Steinbrenner. Sure at times he was scary and other times, he was down right mean. But he was George and he was good for the players, good for the staff and good for the fans. And frankly his teachings, his mandates and his ideas about the game are just what we are missing today.
George Steinbrenner and his teacher role: "I'm really 95 percent Mr. Rogers," Steinbrenner said as he approached his 75th birthday, "and only 5 percent Oscar the Grouch." These analogies are very much true. He was soft when he needed to be and nasty when he had to be nasty. Whether he was picking fights with Yogi Berra or Billy Martin or sending a plane to help a player in need, he knew what he wanted and his expectations were clear, “he wanted to win, always.” I will tell you what, he taught me about the importance of pushing myself, maybe sometimes out of fear but other times because it was the right thing to do. His formula for success was simply, “work as hard as you ask others to. Strive for what you believe is right, no matter the odds. Learn that mistakes can be the best teacher."
George Steinbrenner and his mandates: when Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in 1973, he brought with him his mindset and desire to rebuild the team. "Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," Steinbrenner was fond of saying. "Breathing first, winning next.” And with winning there comes rules and regulations that need to be followed. No facial hair or at least not any scrappy, dirty facial hair like we see in the players of other teams today, namely the Red Sox and even the team down the road, the Mets. No BS. Play the players he purchases or get out of the clubhouse.
This means Reggie Jackson plays, even if he touts himself as the “straw that stirs the drink.” He was all about winning at all costs, and that meant lofty salaries and even the beginning of free agency. He signed the first free agent of the game in Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Who by the way had a gross looking beard that Boss George seemed to overlook. “Steinbrenner not only clashed with Berra for more than a decade but paid to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, deriding the future Hall of Famer as "Mr. May" in 1985 after poor performances.”
Maybe his leadership ideas came from his stint in the military or his finer appreciation of paying ballplayers heartily for the work he expected from them, but any way you slice it, Steinbrenner did not tolerate mediocrity and frankly, other than Jeter, he may have cleaned house today if he was still here. Perhaps his kids take a softer approach because their father was so pigheaded, strict and stern, but we need that kind of doing business now. We need to get out of this. We need some accountability from the coaching staff for losing game after game. We need to clean house. We need the Steinbrenner Effect.
Happy Birthday, Boss- maybe July 4th will be our turning point!
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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