American Dreams can fade away, but for someone born on the Fourth of July, I think they have no chance but to carve a niche in society. George M. Steinbrenner III died Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at the age of 80.
Being a life-long Yankee fan, I’ve had my own personal relationship with the man as well as every other Yankee fan. There were times I cursed him, (how could you tell Donnie Baseball to cut his hair,) times that I agreed with him, (I’m glad he made Randy Johnson cut his hair). There were good times (the late 90s) and bad times (most of the 1980s). But through all the times, he was the Boss. Even when the Yanks were down, you knew Ol’ George had something up his sleeve to change the team around. Also, you knew at any moment he could step in and ruin a good thing. He kept you on edge, on your toes. You always knew where you stood with him because there was only one outcome expected, to win. Not get in the playoffs, or win the division, but to win the World Series.
George Steinbrenner changed baseball. It’s as simple as that; he changed baseball. To this day, when teams complain about the money the Yankees spend, why don’t those teams open up the purse strings like George did and get some talent. You have to spend money to make money. It’s easy, start spending, get the talent in the door, the fans will come and if you keep winning, you will not only have a good year or two, but a franchise, and maybe even some day, a dynasty. He also changed the way we watch baseball. He went to a cable network (MSG) when everyone else was floundering to make money off of people watching the game. Then he realized how much money he could make off of it and created his own network, the YES Network. More money means more talent. More talent means winning which leads to World Series rings, which means more money for more talent. He was the first to figure out how you build a franchise and a dynasty in today’s free agent market.
On Seinfeld, they made Steinbrenner a character. Even before George Costanza was working for the New York Yankees, there is a very early episode where Kramer comes into Jerry’s apartment and throws down the paper claiming, “Steinbrenner, he’s ruining my life!” I’m almost positive every single person in the Yankee organization, as well as every single fan has claimed this at one point or another. I know I did. But, it showed you something about the man; he had heart. He cared about the Yankees, knew the winning tradition behind the pinstripes and wanted to keep that tradition going at any cost. Sometimes it cost him money for a free agent; sometimes it cost him fans cursing his name because he didn’t have the patience for a guy to turn his season around. It didn’t matter to Steinbrenner, because there was only one thing he wanted, to win.
George Steinbrenner went out a champion. The Yankees won their 28th World Series in 2009 in their brand new stadium. The first stadium was the house that Ruth built. The new stadium is the house that George built. I find it fitting that both men share the same name: George. We will miss you George, you always gave it your all, and you expected the same from everyone else. That’s why you will always be the Boss.
4 responses to “A True Champion”
Great post! I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Yankees. It seems like people north and west of the city tended to be Yankee fans, while those east and south leaned towards the Mets. I guess Manhattan might be split. I was “supposed” to be a Yankee fan, and was in the beginning, but I turned on the AL due to their use of designated bitters for the pitchers. Silly, I know, but when they made it to the Series, I rooted for them. Steinbrenner got them there somehow every decade, and people loved to hate him, but in the long run, always repected him. BTW, since I’d only watch them in the Series, I didn’t even know the YES network was his brainchild. I learn something new everyday. Thanks!
Thanks for the comment Robin! Since my entire family is from the Bronx, I really had no choice in the matter as to who I was rooting for in baseball. The Yanks were part of my upbringing. The fact that he started the YES network is the reason I think the man is a genius, he was the first to do it and it made such an impact on the game and how we can always tune in, even in the off season, to watch the Yankees.
P.S. the first Designated Hitter to play for the MLB 1973 was Ron Bloomberg, who was playing for the Yankees!
Excellent post from the heart. Sorry, but I loathe the Yankees and partly due to George. But deep down, any sports fan wishes that George owned their team. He was avery complex man. He ruled with an iron fist. He was fiercely loyal to some, but quick to pounce on obstacles to winning. In all, he increased the popularity of baseball tenfold, bringing in tons of money and interest into the national pastime. To turn a 10 million dollar investment into a multi-billion dollar enterprise is just astounding. Rest in peace, George.
I know you love your beloved Mets (who are making a great run this year BTW), but I think you hit the nail on the head, love him or hate him, most sports fans would want him running the show. And, he was a complex man, the more I’ve been reading about him these past few days, he had a very interesting upbringing which is where he got this tough boss persona. As he got older, he showed a lot of heart, which he didn’t show in the early years.
Thanks for the post, and hope to see your Mets in the Series against the Yanks again!