Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Goodbye, George

So, I've never been a huge baseball fan, but I've been enough of one that I've always sort of hated the Yankees and in particular, George Steinbrenner. But much like I felt when Dale Earnhardt died, I was sad to hear George had passed. I felt like I lost something, and that something was something I enjoyed hating. Hating is probably an exaggeration, but that's what we do with sports. That's what they are for. Someone to cheer for, and conversely sometimes, someone to hate.

There's been a lot of rhetoric about how big "The Boss" was not only in baseball, but in the world of sports and even in the world that is New York City. To me there's one simple way to point to what George built with the Yankees, and that is what every baseball player strives for: To be courted by the Yankees. Make no mistake, there are plenty of kids that grow up playing baseball and hating the Yankees. But ask even those kids what the biggest compliment to their game they could get would be and they'd say "to have the Yankees want me." Sure, they might prefer their lifelong team to be the one to actually sign them, but the team they'd want the most to chase them would be the Yankees.

Why? Because it means you're one of the best. That's all the Yankees have settled for since George took over. And even when they got what they thought was the best, they expected you to maintain that level or they'd move on to whoever had surpassed you. Period. Now, that might sound bad in some ways, but it is the pure business of sports. And from the sound of things, as long as you did what you were brought in to do, nobody treated you better than the Yankees would.

I'm happy to learn more about how philanthropic George was. I'm happy to learn more about how he turned a $10M franchise into a $1.6B franchise. But the real legacy he leaves is the aura of the New York Yankees. You either love them, or you're jealous of them.

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