Word is rapidly spreading across the internet that, given the recent lucrative sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees owners are entertaining the thought of selling baseball’s greatest franchise.
Is there any truth to the rumor? Should it be taken seriously?
It began with an article in today’s New York Daily News citing “anonymous sources” as saying that due to the market for MLB’s premier teams (evidenced by the Dodgers purchase), the inflated player’s salaries, and the aging Yankees squad, the family was exploring the possibilities of selling the club. That column was piggy-backed by the Daily News own Mike Lupica who wrote how it would make sense for the Steinbrenner family to do so.
The social media experienced a tsunami of response to the articles and general partner Hal Steinbrenner issued his own statement denying any truth to the Daily News stories.
There is an old saying that “where there is smoke, there is fire”. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the rumors are actually true – that the family sees this as the peak of the franchise’s value, and wants to get out of the business of baseball. Who then would be passionate enough, and business-savy enough for New York Yankees fans to embrace as principal owner?
Only one person comes to mind – Mark Cuban.
As the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, he has openly displayed his passion for the sport and his team. One could even say it has been “Steinbrenner-esque”. Sitting in the seats with the rest of the paying-public and wearing his Mavs jersey, Cuban has enthusiastically shown his displeasure at calls that go against his players and exudes genuine joy with each win. He is outspoken in his critique as to how the sport should be governed, and isn’t shy about opening his wallet to obtain the pieces required to create a successful franchise. New York Yankees fans became accustomed to those very traits during the reign of “The Boss” George Steinbrenner.
So, why would Mark Cuban be interested in getting into baseball?
It is no secret that it is exactly what the owner wants to do. He has already tried to obtain popular MLB franchises on three occasions. In 2008 he bid $1.3 billion for the Chicago Cubs, and made it to the second round of bidding but was out of the running in the final selection. In 2010 he actively bid on the Texas Rangers and lost. Finally, just this year, he made a bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers but was eliminated early. Cuban was quoted as saying “It just didn’t work out. I wanted to buy a baseball team; they were selling a media rights deal” alluding to the fact that the Dodgers’ TV rights were included in the purchase price.
Why the New York Yankees?
If Mark Cuban is interested, what better team than the Bronx Bombers? The New York Yankees are by far the most well-known organization in baseball. Forbes magazine ranked them the third most valuable sports franchise in the world – worth a full 86 percent higher than the next major league baseball club – the Boston Red Sox. The team plays in the nation’s largest media market, and its home is the cathedral of the sport – Yankee Stadium. In terms of name recognition, there just simply is none better than the New York Yankees.
Would the Yankees fans embrace him as an owner?
Let’s face it, since the passing of George Steinbrenner, the team just hasn’t been run with the same “joie de vivre”. Other than Hank Steinbrenner, who appears to be locked in an attic only to occasionally escape and provide the media with some juicy tidbits, the rest of the family seems to lack the passion for winning that their patriarch wore on his sleeve. Sure George made some pretty dumb acquisitions and declarations, but he did them with flare, and always with the desire of crushing New York Yankees opponents – both on the field and at the gate. The current regime seems to be placing more importance on the bottom line rather than the tradition of championships, and with the tightening of the purse strings the emphasis of putting the best product on the field will be sacrificed.
Mark Cuban would be a breath of fresh air, and his style of leadership could bring new life to the franchise. In the years prior to his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, the team had a winning percentage of 40 percent. Since then, the franchise has won 69 percent of its games, including a world championship in 2011. Imagine what he could do with the New York Yankees given the fact that they are already a perennial playoff team that has just become a little stale.
As of now, there is no firm evidence that Hal Steinbrenner and family are looking to find a buyer for baseball’s most storied franchise, but if they one day to seek to pass the team on to more capable hands, it is clear there is one person New York Yankees fans would welcome with open arms.