It was a sad day, for those who took note of it, when Buster Olney gave up his position as the NYT’s lead Yankee beat writer to become a columnist, now at ESPN. Olney is lively and perspicacious in this new role, but as a beat writer he was unsurpassed, a throwback to the glory days of print journalism. (We understand the move from his perspective; the endless travel must become tiresome, and the paydays for talking heads are larger). His new book, Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, is at the top of our reading list.
Olney has us scratching our heads with his latest piece, however, in which he suggests The Boss should be immortalized in Cooperstown. “George Steinbrenner’s impact on the game is undeniable. For that, Steinbrenner should become one of the few executives inducted into Hall of Fame,” he writes. Olney is no Steinbrenner apologist: he makes clear that George’s impact has at times been pernicious, that he might reasonably be labelled a bully, a quitter, and a fool. But for Olney, these characteristics are trumped by Steinbrenner’s resurrection of the Yankees into baseball’s premier franchise, by his (often self-defeating) obsession with victory at any cost, and by the fact that the man himself has become something of a cultural icon.
So, does George deserve a spot in the Hall, or should he be happy with his inevitable placement in Monument Park (if he doesn’t tear it down)?
Cast your votes….