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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead

George Steinbrenner, the infamous and legendary owner of the New York Yankees, died this week at 80. Steinbrenner was one of those figures that you either loved or hated; he was a giant, passionate personality who lived his life in almost constant controversy. For every person that he charmed or helped, there were many more who he angered with his relentless drive for perfection and sometimes volatile temper. He was most infamous for his conviction for illegally contributing to Richard Nixon's campaign, for which he received a two year ban from baseball; for paying someone to dig up dirt on player Dave Winfield, for which he received a lifetime ban from baseball, (which was later lifted); and for once, even getting into a physical fight with some random baseball fans. Nice.

(steinbrenner with yankees manager joe torre)
A Cleveland native, he made a fortune in shipping, and then bought the New York Yankees in 1973 at a time when the Yankees were one of the worst teams in baseball. Before he was done, he not only revived the storied franchise, but they won seven World Series titles under his ownership. For us, though, and for many in the sports world, the big elephant in the room with Steinbrenner and his Yankees, is the fact that he "bought and paid for" the success of the team. Steinbrenner spent lavishly to hire all the best players in baseball, and in some years it seemed possible that the entire American League All-Star Game roster at mid-season break could made up entirely of New York Yankee members. In other words, if one team can buy up all the best players in the game, is that really fair? And if that team wins several World Series', is it really because they're the best team, or simply a team with more A-List players than the other teams? We've often wondered how different the Yankees would have fared if there had been some sort of "equity" established in baseball, in which no owner could spend more than another? For that reason, we'll always consider George Steinbrenner the "Asterisk Owner"; yes, he really won seven World Series', but did he simply pay for those titles?

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