As everyone knows Yankee’s owner George Steinbrenner passed away yesterday. I felt it was fitting that The Rick’s Sports Blog post something about him. Not being a Yankees fan or an avid baseball follower, I asked my friend and our newest contributor Michael N. Osborne, the biggest Yankee’s fan I know to write something up about the man.
“Driving around today contemplating the life and death of George Michael Steinbrenner III, I started to list the many achievements and accolades the man has received over his 35 plus years as owner and managing partner of the New York Yankees.
I thought about ways to define the man who turned a $ 170,000 personal investment into a $1.3 billion empire; the man who put together seven World Championship teams; the man who paved the way for big time free agency and revolutionized the way that baseball was shown on television by being the first to sell the rights to cable networks and the first to develop his own, the YES network.
Sure, Steinbrenner’s innovation and contribution to the game is unmatched; however, no one single championship, victory or dollar earned could ever quite define him like his role as professional sports’ greatest villain.
In sports, when people don’t have anybody to root for, they find somebody to root against. Steinbrenner filled that role perfectly through his mistreatment of players and managers; most namely Billy Martin, and his Pac-Manesque gobbling up of free agents; a practice he originally championed against.
He was the man that baseball fans loved to hate, the owner of the team that everyone loves to hate. Across the globe, for every Die-Hard Yankees fan, there are two that hate them just as much.
Baseball tried to kick him out twice; suspending him for two years in 1976 and later banning him for life in 1990. But you couldn’t keep him from scratching and clawing his way back on top because he needed the game and the game needed him. Even famed penny pincher, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, was quoted as saying that baseball needs guys like Steinbrenner to survive.
Hell, even Yankees’ fans hated Steinbrenner at times; like when he threatened to move the team to New Jersey, or when he called out star players like Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly.
Ultimately, “The Boss” was a villain because he demanded the most out of people and most of the time he got it. The man who once said that winning came slightly ahead of breathing was the ultimate winner on the ultimate team in the ultimate city. In the end, that’s what he was defined as and most vilified for, being the man who would do anything to win.
Surfing around Facebook and Twitter this week you’ll find a lot of opinions on Steinbrenner, some good, some bad, but mostly you’ll find a lot of people who just wish that the owner of their teams had the balls to make the moves that defined Old George, the balls to take chances that sometimes drove fans crazy, the balls to win at any cost.
I think that definition would suit Old George just fine.”
Michael N. Osborne
I want to personally thank Oz for taking the time to write this piece for us.
We here at The Rick’s Sport’s Blog want to send out our condolences to the Steinbrenner Family and the Yankee’s Nation. RIP George Steinbrenner.