Steinbrenner at 80: He sticks it to Michael
George Steinbrenner turns 80 on July 4. We're looking back at some interesting moments of his tenure with the Yankees.
The contract negotiations regarding No. 1 draft chocie Brien Taylor in 1991 had twisted Steinbrenner into knots. Gene Michael was supposed to be in change of making baseball decisions for the Yankees as Steinbrenenr served his suspension from Major League Baseball.
Jon Heyman and I teamed up for the following story: :
George Steinbrenner is furious about the Yankees' handling of the Brien Taylor situation. "I just don't know what my people are doing or what they're thinking," he said from Tampa. "If they let him go, they ought to be shot."
Steinbrenner,banned from participating in baseball matters, said it would be a mistake to let the No. 1 draft choice go over money. "He could be a Dwight Gooden or Roger Clemens," Steinbrenner said. "He could be the next great Yankee. He's your No. 1 draft choice; you have to treat it accordingly."
Steinbrenner said Taylor's demands of a three-year, $ 1.2-million major-league contract were not out of line because Oakland set the pace by signing Todd Van Poppel to those figures last year. "We didn't blaze this trail. This trail was blazed by the Oakland A's," Steinbrenenr said. "Nobody can point a finger at the Yankees and say we did it first."
Told of Steinbrenner's comment that "they should be shot" if Taylor goes unsigned, general manager Gene Michael reacted with humor, saying, "Again? I get shot again? This is actually a little more definite because last time I wasn't shot, I was hung. I guess I'm going to be shot or hung, one or the other."
He was referring to Steinbrenner's comment three months ago that the person who told Jim Leyritz not to associate so much with Steve Sax should be hung. Leyritz had said management told him to stay away from Sax, though Michael denied having said that.
Pressed further about Steinbrenner's criticism of the Taylor case, Michael said by phone from his New Jersey home, "I don't have anything to say, except I'm guilty again before it's over."
Taylor was signed, got hurt in a fight and never made it out of the minors.