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  . . THE BOSS

"Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps"

May 15, 2000

It's a kid's game. Right, and Seinfeld was a show about nothing.

And maybe in Jersey, Bruce Springsteen is still the boss, but make no mistake, in The Big Apple, George Steinbrenner is The Boss. The Big Boss. Queso Grande. The Master of his Domain.

Let's update the numbers. OK, so the Yanks lost that last game in 2001, but George has brought his precious Yankees back to prominence, hasn't he? Five pennants and four World Championships in six years. Four in six, mind you. Probably get another one next year. He deserves his props, and if there's any talk about the Hall of Fame going on in those clubby, smoke-filled New York rooms, it isn't all that ridiculous. Not completely.

But let's not forget who this guy George Steinbrenner is, shall we. Just for a second. Because Seinfeld didn't base a character on him for nothing.

This is the guy who was banned from baseball twice, once for giving money to Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon! Nixon was a good baseball man, but please.

This is the guy who feuded with Yogi Berra, content to hold Oldtimers' Games without him.

This is the guy who ran his team into the ground for the better part of two decades, bumbling and stumbling with the Oscar Gambles of the world, before finally lucking out with Joe Torre (now there's a Hall of Famer).

This is the guy who wasted Don Mattingly's entire career.

This is the guy who couldn't make a one way elevator trip during the 1981 World Series without someone landing a punch.

This is the guy who inspired "101 Reasons to Hate George Steinbrenner." And that was a conservative estimate.

This is the guy who fired Billy Martin, what, twenty times?

This is the guy who to this day still threatens to leave the Bronx.

This is the guy who, according to George Costanza, "ruined the Yankees!!" Just about.

This is the guy who traded Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps. Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps. With his son missing and presumed dead, Frank Costanza wanted answers about the important things: "How could you trade Jay Buhner?!" "My people said we had to have this guy Ken Phelps. Ken Phelps, they said. Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps!"

So what is the point of all this? That George Steinbrenner is a flawed man? A winner, a loser, the object of our love, hate, scorn and ridicule? A man thoroughly worthy of his characterization on Seinfeld?

I don't know. It's an article about nothing.

Howard Cole



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