7-World Titles, 11-Pennants, 14-Divisional Titles
You can love him or hate him, just as you can love or hate the New York Yankees that he owned. You can be a fan of the “bronx bombers” or hate the “evil empire”. But regardless of what you think and your own personal opinions, baseball fans and the MLB will never forget George Steinbrenner or what he did for the game for good or for bad. He’s been called the Antichrist and a psychopath and also the Donald trump of baseball(i like the last one personally).
I for one am not a Yankees fan, not because i have anything against them but i am from Michigan and there for a Tigers fan. I could get into all the issues people have the Yankees and there departed owner patriarch but i wont. I don’t have a dog in this fight so i’m just going to give my opinion on what he did in my mind for baseball.
He was the like that one kid in school that did so well and was so successful that he pissed everyone else off. Not because the other kids envied him and wanted to be like him(even thought they really did) but because they were so jealous of the fact he was just that much better than them. Without realizing it he made them push themselves that much harder. And that’s whats he did for baseball. He is no different than Jerry Jones from the Dallas cowboys or mike Ilitch the owner the Detroit red wings. He knew that money talks and bullshit walks in this world and he wasn’t afraid to pay the money for the best available and wasn’t afraid to fire someone if they were not towing the line on the field.
You can piss and moan about how much he paid for players and how he “bought his teams”, but in the end that is why every season the Yankees were contenders for making it to the World Series and other teams were not. By running the Yankees the way he did he over the years made the ENTIRE LEAGUE BETTER. What team out there didn’t want to beat the Yankees!!!. And eventually every team in MLB realized they had to put the money up to get the top tier talent and coaching that they needed and wanted. He quite often got some of the best players and pushed the ones that were already there to produce, and if they didn’t they were gone.
Since “the boss” bought the Yankees in the early 70’s he achieved more than most owners ever could dream of and he did it with passion, and determination and attitude. It made other teams around the league step it up a notch whether it was from how the front office was run all the way to the how the players played and the coaches coached, he was hands on and controlling and the Yankees and there fan base were better for it. The sport was better for it, talent got better and maybe faster than what it would have if he had not bought the Yankees. He took the entire league on his shoulders whether by inspiration or hate and moved the game forward and made it better. Becouse he was the way he was and becouse of how he did things, baseball would never have been what it is today as a sport and as market force.
Yankees fans are some of the most loyal fans in the sporting world and even if your not in New York many people have a Yankees shirt or a Yankees hat, even in here in Michigan i see it everyday. Steinbrenner learned to market his team on a such a level that they became an icon, the players and the team. They were symbols for America even going back to WWII. The city in which they play became even more of an icon because of him and his team. If you were to ask ten people to say the first thing to come to there minds after hearing the word New York most would say the Yankees. How many sports teams in the world are icons in this way, only a few. Teams today are even still struggling to get to a level anywhere close to what the Yankees have achieved in both athletics and marketing, and still dreaming of doing half of what they did and for some it will always be a dream. The Yankees were and have always been a great source of pride for the people of that city, and you don’t have to live there to see it.
Love or hate the man, he did what few have and what few ever will. He helped make players, a team and a city something to both look up to and envy and also hate. For some he will be the most hated team owner ever and others will always remember him for the back of his head and pointing fingers on TV’s Seinfeld as George Costanza’s boss. He is a sports icon, but also a pop culture icon. I do not think that we will ever see someone like him in that position again. He was as American as apple pie and the team that he owned in my mind.