From a business perspective, this deal may come down to the other owners (Goldman Sachs & Co. and Ray Chambers, former Nets owner) more than George Steinbrenner, but I want to take a look at it from a fan’s standpoint.
I think it’s a good idea for the network to divorce itself from the team. Obviously, no matter who owns the team you probably aren’t going to get rid of Michael Kay, but if his checks are no longer written by the team it could do away with some of the hometown bias. Or at least it will take away the perception of such impropriety, to some degree.
Another interesting question is whether the sale of the YES Network would mean that Steinbrenner would turn around and offer up the local Yankee TV rights to the highest bidder when the contract runs out. That would be a kick in the pants for any potential buyer. The network would be left with the Nets, Devils and Emmy award-winning CenterStage with Michael Kay.
On the field, this move probably wouldn’t have any impact at all. Steinbrenner’s pockets would be lined with YES money, which I have no doubt he would put back on the field. The only way this effects the team is if it’s the first step to George selling the team. If that happens, all bets are off. Who knows what type of owner we’d wind up with.
One last thing to keep an eye on with this story. Two of the possible bidders listed in the article are cable companies: Cablevision and Comcast. I’d much prefer the network didn’t go to one of these companies because I don’t want to see another lockout. When YES first went on the air, there was a huge debate over pricing and a large portion of Yankee fans couldn’t get the games on their cable service. Let’s hope this situation can be avoided if a sale occurs.
For the record, Hal Steinbrenner, George’s son and the heir apparent had this to say about a possible sale of the team:
"There's no thought of selling the team," he says. "It's been in the family for 35 years, and it's going to stay that way."