I had another post ready to go today but that can wait. The AP and other news outlets are reporting that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner suffered a massive heart attack this morning and has passed away. Details are not yet known, but they don’t matter – the fact remains that baseball has lost a giant today and the game will never be the same.
Now, as you all well-know, I am a huge Red Sox fan which, by definition, means I hate the Yankees. And, for my entire life, no one embodied the Yankee mentality like Mr. Steinbrenner. He was a hands-on and tough leader who tolerated less than winning. Each year he did whatever he had to do to ensure his team would be the best and, when they didn’t win, he was ruthless in figuring out how to make them better. When getting better meant spending more, he did it. The Yankees payroll was far and away the largest in the league but, for Steinbrenner, when it came to putting forth the best possible product, money did not stand in the way and his fans were the beneficiaries.
At its core, sports is about entertainment (see James, Lebron) and for so many years there was no entertainer in sports quite like George Steinbrenner. Always willing to mock himself and get a laugh at his own expense, Steinbrenner helped make the Yankee – Red Sox rivalry that I grew up with such fun. There is no question that he made me a bigger Red Sox fan and our World Series Championship in 2004 was made so much more sweeter by the fact that we beat George. How fitting that today is the All-Star Game – the day when the league pauses to honor the greatest players. George Steinbrenner changed the game of baseball and, tonight, when the whole league is together, we will have the opportunity to say thank you.