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Conflicts with umpires helped Billy Martin lose his job as manager, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said Saturday.

Steinbrenner was asked on NBC's pre-game show whether Martin was fired June 23 for his rumored drinking problems and his poor handling of the Yankee pitchers."It was a combination of things. And those were two things, but not paramount things," Steinbrenner said. "One of the things was the umpires situation.

"Even after his apology they didn't come back with a full-scale endorsement. We could see what was happening. He was reticent to go out and argue for his players when they thought they were right. You can't function as a manager on seven out of eight cylinders, you just can't do it."

Martin was suspended once and fined twice by the American League in May for throwing dirt on umpires. After the second incident, Richie Phillips, head of the umpires' union, warned that Martin would have to sit in the dugout with his hands folded and his mouth shut or be throw ejected from games. Martin later issued an apology for his behavior..

Steinbrenner said, referring to his frequent changes in managers - 15 in 15 years: "Different strokes for different folks. Different rhymes for different times."