Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Our confession about George Steinbrenner

Posted by Bill Koch on July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner

We here at Ramble On would like to take a minute this morning to acknowledge the passing of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The Boss, who had been in failing health in recent years, died of a massive heart attack while vacationing at his Tampa home. He was 80 years old.

As fans of the Boston Red Sox, we were obliged to hate Steinbrenner and everything for which he stood. The head of The Evil Empire bought the Yankees for $8.7 million in 1973 and turned them into the powerhouse that currently exists, almost willing baseball in The Bronx back to prominence through the menace in his voice and the incredible power of his seemingly endless wealth. New York added seven more World Series championships during his reign, most of those coming while the Red Sox were stuck in their 86-year drought that ended in 2004.

We have a confession to make today, and it’s probably not something that we ever could have said while Steinbrenner was alive – we would have loved to have had him as an owner in Boston. That would have been too much to admit and concede to Yankees fans during the time that they had to enjoy every advantage The Boss could give them. Steinbrenner was a man who valued winning over everything else and had the financial means to make it happen. He spent big on almost every available free agent, plowed money into his front office, developed stars like The Core Four of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte and dominated the action during every baseball offseason from the day he walked in the door. He was the driving force behind the construction of the new Yankee Stadium, a baseball version of the Taj Mahal that will keep the Yankees flush with cash and on top of the unchecked MLB financial system well into this century. The fact that he was banned from the league on two different occasions wouldn’t have mattered to us. We would have sold our souls for even one World Series ring during all of those years of suffering.

New England sports fans have seen the other side of the equation, namely during the disgraceful eras of John Harrington and Jeremy Jacobs. Harrington presided over the Yawkey Trust, the financial arrangement that controlled the Red Sox for the better part of two decades and allowed Fenway Park and the franchise to fall into decay. Boston’s run to the World Series in 1986 and its subsequent appearances in the ALCS seem like luck compared to today’s steady winning and planning headed by John Henry and his group. Harrington didn’t give a damn about the fans and proved as much with his callousness and reclusiveness.

As for Jacobs, he’s been the anti-Steinbrenner while owning the Boston Bruins for almost four decades. Under Jacobs’ control, the Bruins have never won a Stanley Cup and likely never will now that the salary cap has brought parity to the NHL. For years Jacobs had a distinct financial advantage over his competition thanks to the diehard Bruins fans, the constant sellouts at the Boston Garden and his own considerable personal wealth. He refused to spend the extra money on additional players that could have given franchise greats like Ray Bourque and Cam Neely a championship that they so richly deserved after the amount of blood, sweat and tears that they sacrificed while wearing the black and gold. Jacobs hid behind Harry Sinden from his Buffalo estate and enforced a tight-fisted, stingy policy when it came to new contracts for his own star players and bidding on potential impact free agents. Steinbrenner never would have stood for such a thing. For that, he earned our loathing – and, secretly, our admiration.


One Response to “Our confession about George Steinbrenner”

  1. Chris Ross said

    Excellent post, it was a very good read for me! It is a sad time for the baseball world especially with the all star game being played on the same day, but I am also surprised at the amount of praise that the man who was once known as the most hated man in baseball. He definitely did do a lot for the New York Yankees and I’m sure the city is very grateful for it. I also kind of like/hate the fact that I have a team to hate for in the Yankees because they just buy all their players. Also you think you could take a quick look at my blog cuz I really want to know what you think. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/greatest-owner-ever-hardly/

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