Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010, the Winner

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010, was far more than a major baseball team owner.  As owner of the New York Yankees, he captured the public's attention with his larger than life deal making and voluble speech.   More than any other person in baseball in the past half century, Steinbrenner epitomized the love of winning - it was not enough just to be in the game, his team had to win, and when it didn't, the managers and players felt his disapproval.  He hired and fired Billy Martin almost on a yearly basis - because, however much Billy and his hot temper irritated him, Steinbrenner valued Billy's ability to make the Yankees winners.   He pulled the notion of hands-on manager to new heights, commenting on a plays, pitches, hits, and strikes to the press as much as an announcer.   It was all about winning - for the Yankees, for New York, for the ages.   When his players won, they could expect praise to the hilt.   When they lost, they might well see a sarcastic appraisal from Steinbrenner about their performance - in the press and the media.   And it worked - the Yanks won seven World Series titles and eleven pennants since 1973.

George Steinbrenner will be remembered as one of the great sportsman in history, who changed not only the playing of baseball but our popular culture.
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