The New York Post’s Michael Morrisey on the disappointing news that George Steinbrenner’s first erruption of 2005 wasn’t caused by A-Rod, Larry Lucchino or David Wells, but rather by superagent Arn Tellum.
(News Corp., mindful of sensitive readers)
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who has evaded reporters and sidestepped controversy this month, expressed his extreme displeasure with the way Arn Tellem has handled Giambi by using one choice four-letter word.
“[Bleep] the agent,” Steinbrenner told reporters from a Legends Field elevator. “He’s no good.”
he Boss is ticked that Tellem has advised Giambi against using the word “steroids” in any of his conversations about BALCO. If the embattled Yankees slugger does make an official admission, the Bombers would have better legal standing to void the remaining $82 million on his contract.
Sources said they believe Steinbrenner also is fuming because he thinks Tellem leaked the story about how the word “steroids” was dropped from Giambi’s contract.
The Boss is apoplectic that Tellem attempted to spin that particular story to make the Yankees look like willing co-conspirators, when in reality the club replaced the phrase with broader language that still protected them against steroid use, sources say.
Thus, George M. Steinbrenner momentarily became George F. Steinbrenner, or George Carlin. Steinbrenner, who stunned reporters with his matter-of-fact F-bomb, came down to the Yankees clubhouse a few minutes later and apologized.
“I just don’t like the guy,” he said. “I’m not happy with him.”
Other Yankees said they think Tellem is acting professionally on behalf of his client and have no problem with that.
“Well, the court told Jason that he could say anything he wanted to,” Steinbrenner said. “And then Arn Tellem says, ‘No, he doesn’t. He doesn’t say anything.’ ”
Tellem countered that court officials told Giambi he might be a federal witness in the future and was led to believe he shouldn’t talk about his grand jury testimony.
Asked if Giambi would’ve come off better during his New York press conference if he had explained what he had apologized for, the Boss responded, “I don’t know what he was apologizing for. You’ll have to ask him.”
Steinbrenner said he wasn’t angry with Giambi and gave him a big hug on the field at the end of yesterday’s workout.
“This is all news to me,” a sweaty Giambi told reporters at his locker afterward.
Giambi batted an anemic .208 last season after reportedly testifying he was a regular steroid user, so it’s surprising The Boss held back this long. By now he must know he would have been better off investing in a mutual fund of WorldCom, Enron and that personal favorite of his, Krispy Kreme Donuts.
Yankees execs can’t be sure whether Giambi’s finished. With the effects of the steroids presumably wearing off, there’s no telling what he’ll be. No matter what he is, he isn’t worth the $82 million coming to him. What’s worse, they’re pretty sure they’re stuck with him.
Steinbrenner is blaming the wrong party for this mess, anyway. If he doesn’t like Giambi’s deal, he needs to grab a mirror.
Steinbrenner is the one who insisted on Giambi. The Yankees could have brought back Tino Martinez on a two- or three-year deal, kept their chemistry intact and spent the extra loot elsewhere. But Steinbrenner is fascinated by the long ball. He was in love.
Steinbrenner and his executives messed up. They showed bad taste and poor judgment by signing a player everyone strongly suspected of being on steroids even if they didn’t absolutely know it. They had to know he was a player who liked to get out, and stay out, past midnight.
Yankees people haven’t completely given up challenging the contract, but their current strategy appears to involve waiting for Giambi to slip up and say the wrong thing. That’s a longshot.
While Giambi is anything but cautious in the way he lives his life, he is oh so careful not to make any admission that could jeopardize the $82 million. If you think reporters were frustrated by Giambi’s murky apology, that’s nothing compared to how Steinbrenner feels.
“The court told Jason he could say anything he wanted to. Then Arn Tellem says no, he doesn’t. He doesn’t say anything,” Steinbrenner said.
“I just don’t like the guy,” Steinbrenner said about Tellem.
It’s hard to love someone who’s taken you to the cleaners. And made you stay.