Farewell George Steinbrenner

I never thought I would be writing about George Steinbrenner.

For one thing, I hate baseball. I find it colossally boring. I really can’t stand the Yankees, and hope that anybody except them wins. To me they are the evil empire of baseball. One of the main reasons I dislike them so much is because of George Steinbrenner.

Yet over the years my dislike of him turned to a grudging admiration. The game of baseball is worse off for his passing.

Like many people, he was complex. He did many good and bad things.

His bad deeds got him suspended from baseball twice. Yet he served his time and returned under the rules that baseball allowed.

He had a gracious side. Despite former Commissioner Bart Giammatti pursuing a suspension against him (Giammatti had a fatal heart attack and his successor Fay Vincent imposed the suspension), Steinbrenner had very kind words about Giammatti following his death.

Steinbrenner had a bloodlust for winning, sometimes to the point of lunacy. He would fire managers practically every year, with Billy Martin coming and going five times.

As Steinbrenner aged, he mellowed, albeit barely. Joe Torre managed the team for over a decade until being forced out.

One quality Steinbrenner had that must be praised is self-deprecation. His stint hosting Saturday Night Live was hilarious. One skit had him managing a grocery store. He was told that one of his subordinates was stealing and needed to be fired. Steinbrenner was too soft to do it, insisting on leniency. “What kind of bonehead would I be if I just kept hiring and firing people?”

An even better skit that episode showed that Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, and George Steinbrenner all lost weight with Ultra Slim Fast. Steinbrenner asked “Why am I being compared to these ruthless dictators? Idi Amin used to eat people. I just run a baseball team.” It was explained that “George, you are the antithesis of all these people. You represent the common man.” Then the four men shared a group hug photo.

Yet the main association between Steinbrenner and the Yankees was winning championships. The Yankees won seven titles during his reign that began in 1973.

Steinbrenner would spend into the stratosphere to sign the best players. A player in a smaller city with talent would have a player leave because Steinbrenner would raise his salary from one million to twenty million. I used to think that Steinbrenner was destroying baseball due to the disparity in team salaries. A few years ago the Yankees had a payroll of 200 million dollars while the now defunct Expos (currently the Nationals) had a 9 million dollar payroll.

Yet this was not Steinbrenner’s fault. This goes to deep problems with the structure of baseball itself. Steinbrenner played within the rules of capitalism, and used his advantage accordingly.

(Another reason I support socialism in professional sports)

Yes, Steinbrenner is controversial, but what great leader isn’t?

When Joe Tore was forced out of the Yankees and joined the Dodgers, I rooted for the Dodgers to win so Torre could watch Steinbrenner choke on it. Yet it was Steinbrenner who had the last laugh, as replacement Joe Girardi brought the Yankees another championship.

Steinbrenner was born on July 4th, and died days after turning 80 years old. While his physical health was declining, his mental state was sharp. Up until his dying day, he wanted his team to win.

He used to be a shipping magnate, but as he told me, even the wealthiest shipping magnate is less prestigious than owning the Yankees.

He bought them for 8 million dollars, and saw his investment grow several hundred fold into the wealthiest name in sports.

He angered many people along the way, but every day of his life as an owner was dedicated to helping the Yankees win. The Yankees being in the world series brought out the Yankee lovers and haters, and that was good for baseball.

Whether it be Al Davis, Jerry Jones, or George Steinbrenner, leagues need renegades. Renegades when successful increase the storylines and the interest in the sport.

I may never find baseball interesting, but George Steinbrenner was never boring.

I will miss rooting against him.

Now he is in heaven with the Angels. I hope he does not end up owning them because he may try to fire them all.

Farewell Mr. Steinbrenner. You will be missed.


One Response to “Farewell George Steinbrenner”

  1. Yeah, he was a real character. As much as I, like you, rooted against him, I bid him a fond adeau. He’s the guy we’d loved to hate, and now he’s gone. Let’s hate Daniel Snyder now.


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