The Steinbrenner family says it is not interested in selling the New York Yankees and dividing up the huge pinstriped pie that patriarch George left behind with his death in July 2010.
But a rather thin article in Thursday's editions of the New York Daily News claims otherwise, speculating that the family must have dollar signs in its eyes after Frank McCourt brought home a huge windfall with the $2 billion-plus sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Magic Johnson and Co. earlier this year.
From the New York Daily News:
Multiple baseball and finance sources told the Daily News they are hearing that the team the Steinbrenner family has led to seven World Series titles could be put on the block in the wake of the record sale price of $2.175 billion the Los Angeles Dodgers went for in April.
"There has been chatter all around the banking and financial industries in the city for a couple of weeks now," one high-level baseball source told The News.
"Chatter" can be defined many ways, of course. It's the type of word you use when you've got nothing but outside speculation and want to group it together into an article that will let you win the New York tabloid war for the day. It's also the sort of thing you're able to hear almost anywhere in one of the richest cities in the world. Show me a banker who's not talking about an enormous potential profit — no matter who's taking it — and I'll show you a bad banker.
Hal and Hank Steinbrenner (AP)Yankees team president Randy Levine is quoted in the NYDN article as saying there is "absolutely, positively nothing to" the speculation. Meanwhile, Hal Steinbrenner read the article on Thursday morning and then sent a few national reporters, including Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the following message:
"I just read the Daily News story. It is complete fiction. Me and my family have no intention to sell the Yankees and expect it to be in the family for years to come."
If the Steinbrenners were to sell the team, they'd be taking an enormous profit. Ol' man George bought the team from CBS in 1973 for $10 million. The network took a $3 million loss on that deal, but the Steinbrenners could potentially make $3 billion in a sale of the team. That's an unthinkable return on investment.
But while the paper tries to make a case that the time is ripe for the Steinbrenners to sell the team, I believe the family when it says they're not posting a for sale sign. For one, they had the benefit of escaping that hefty estate tax when they inherited the team in 2010. You really think they're going to voluntarily take a huge tax hit just two years later?
For another, it doesn't matter if Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera's time with the team is approaching an end. It's the team's TV deal, ballpark and brand that gives the franchise its worth and it's hard to see it becoming less valuable over time.
Look, there's no doubt the Steinbrenners are becoming more fiscally conservative under the sons — at least relative to their win-at-all-costs father. They're looking to get out from under the luxury tax and to get a taste of that huge revenue sharing pile that baseball is bringing in each year. That's only going to get easier as some of the big stars head off into retirement.
Also, while it would appear that neither Hal nor Hank get the same kind of ego boost from owning the team that their father did, I think they still like the identity that owning the Yankees gives the family name and recognize that it all goes away if they sell the team to somebody else. They're not going to destroy their father's legacy, especially when he's been gone for less than two years.
Considering all of that, I'm going to throw some "chatter" of my own out there: The Yankees aren't going to be owned by anyone else, anytime soon.
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