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The Yankees announced today that the team will wear patches on their uniforms remembering owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 80, and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who passed away Sunday at the age of 99.

The Steinbrenner patch will be placed above each player’s heart – over the interlocking NY on home jerseys, and above the word “YORK” on away jerseys.  The Sheppard patch will be worn on each player’s left sleeve.

I’m watching the all-star game right now and it appears that each Yankee has a black armband on his left sleeve in honor of Steinbrenner’s passing.

Just nine days after his 80th birthday and just two days after the passing of iconic PA announcer Bob Sheppard, the Yankees are now mourning the loss of owner George Steinbrenner Tuesday morning after a massive heart attack.

Steinbrenner had been in declining health for about 3 years now and most of the day-to-day operations of the team were passed to sons Hal and Hank.  Although many in the Yankee Universe were expecting his eventual passing, a heart attack was not what most were expecting.

Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for $10 Million in 1973 and initially claimed he would not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the team.  Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  In his first 8 years of ownership, Steinbrenner’s Yankees won 4 pennants and 2 World Series championships.

After a “Dark Ages” from 1982-1993, the Yankees started winning regularly again in 1994, leading the league before the player’s strike ended the season.  The Yankees have not had a losing season since and despite the “dark ages” the Yankees still hold the best overall record from 1973-today.

Love him or hate him, for better or worse, the Boss changed baseball forever.  He brought a businessman’s mentality to the game that led to higher salaries for the players due to his willingness to pay a lot of money for good players.  For example, he offered Catfish Hunter a $700,000+ salary back when many baseball players were not even making six figures.

Yankees fans will have to mourn the loss of two iconic members of the organization for the rest of the season.  I will be interested to see how the Boss is remembered at tonight’s all-star game.  After the impact this man had on baseball, I’ll be disappointed if nothing is mentioned.

The Yankees got a taste of what they are missing this season after Johnny Damon’s fifth inning home run gave the Tigers a 4-2 lead on a night that ESPN and Detroit honored longtime Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, who passed away last week after a battle with cancer.  The Yankees fell short during an eighth inning rally to finish the game down 5-4 for their second straight loss after winning 6 in a row and 9 of their previous 10 games.

The Yankees got a good look at three former members of the organization who are playing in Detroit this season.  Austin Jackson, a former Triple-A star for the Bombers has led the AL in hits this season and although he was held hitless Monday night, he did have a sacrifice fly for an RBI.   Johnny Damon was 1-3 with a HR and a walk.  Both hitters are batting .360 and .295, respectively.

Former relief pitcher Phil Coke also faced off against his former squad, coming in during the top of the eighth with the bases loaded.  After allowing one run to score on a fielder’s choice at second, Coke got Randy Winn to pop out before he was relieved of his duties with right-handed hitter Derek Jeter coming to the plate.  The lefty Coke threw 5 pitches in his 2/3 of an inning.

It’s hard to see three former Yankees doing well for their new squads.  Damon was a free agent acquisition for the Tigers after he and the Yankees brass couldn’t come to agreement on a contract price.  Jackson and Coke were part of the deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Bronx.  After a great start to the season, including a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee, Granderson has cooled off big time in the last few weeks, hitting only .225, and has not had an RBI since April 16 or home run since April 7.  He was placed on the 15-Day DL May 2.

I get the feeling sometimes that Randy Levine and I are somewhat alike.  Occasionally my friends and family joke about how I don’t have that “filter” that most people have that makes them hold back on telling other people how it really is.  ‘Cause I really do have no problem saying whatever comes to mind as long as it’s not really hurtful.

Anyways, I was very happy to read about Randy Levine telling Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio to stop whining about how the Yankees spend money.  Well done, Mr Levine, well done.

Apparently Attanasio and the Brewers are having a difficult time signing prized first baseman Prince Fielder to a contract extension and he’s blaming it on the big money that teams like the Yankees pay to their stars.  Attanasio was quoted by USA Today as saying, “We’re struggling to sign [Fielder] and the Yankees infield is making more than our team.”

The Yankees infield will make around $85 Million this season and the entire team payroll should be around $206 Million with Alex Rodriguez making $33 Million.  In comparison, Milwaukee’s total team payroll is around $80 Million and the Pittsburgh Pirates have dropped their payroll this season to around $35 Million – just a tad more than A-Rod himself will make.

When questioned about it by, Levine said:

“I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers.  We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players.  The question that should be asked is: Where has the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?”

Well said, Mr Levine.  Baseball, and every other sport for that matter, is a business and a business must spend money to make money.  A sales company needs to make sure its product fills a want or need (so people buy it) and is priced correctly enough to gain market share while making a profit.  A baseball team needs to field a great team so people want to buy tickets and gear and price everything correctly so market share and a profit can be gained.  Attanasio should know this; he’s an investment banker.

I don’t even want to hear the BS that small market teams can’t spend that much money because they don’t make that much money.  Enough of that silly argument.  In business, you need to spend money to make money.  There are small market teams in every other sport that transcend their market and have a national appeal because they field a good product almost every season.  Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers in the NFL and the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA.

So, Mr Attanasio…where is that revenue sharing money going?  To pay for your yacht?

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ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that sources are indicating that the Yankees have signed free agent outfielder Randy Winn, effectively ruling out any chance of a Johnny Damon return.

Winn has reportedly signed a 1 year, $2 Million contract and it seems that the Yankees have made an extremely good signing.  Although he only hit .262 with 51 RBI and a .318 OBP in 2009, Winn is a career .286 hitter with a .344 OBP.  In 2007 and 2008, he hit .306 and .300 respectively.

At a paltry $2 Million, he’s a STEAL.  If he sucks, who cares?  If he repeats ’07 or ’08 numbers the Yankees make out big time.  In 2009, Winn made over $9 Million as a member of the San Francisco Giants.

RIP Johnny Damon in pinstripes.

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