Monday, September 20, 2010

Honoring Mr. Steinbrenner

The Yankees really got it right tonight. That was a classy, well-planned, touching tribute to one of, if not the, greatest owners in the history of American professional sports. From honoring his wife and family in person, to the ceremony in monument park, to his granddaugther singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch, it was phenomenal. The former Yankees players, managers, and coaches in attendance was as also outstanding, as was the entire team walking the Steinbrenner family around the stadium and out to center field for the unveiling of the monument. There was also something nice about the entire team being out there and not in the dugout. With all of the players, including September call-ups, and coaches out there in their home uniforms it seemed like their was a sea of pinstripes surrounding The Boss's family and his monument, which only seemed fitting. The image of Mariano Rivera staying behind by himself staring at the monument was a special moment. You could tell how much George Steinbrenner meant to him, and looking at the faces of a lot of other people all around the stadium, he certainly wasn't alone.

Of course, the Yankees won the game too, which also only seemed right.

But that was secondary, only a part of what tonight was about. Tonight was about George Steinbrenner, and celebrating everything he did as a person and for this organization. I discussed this in a post earlier this summer when he passed, but the amount of lives he touched through is own efforts and through his ownership of the Yankees' organization is incredible. Focusing just on what he accomplished with the Yankees, I thought Brian Cashman put it best during the video tribute. The heights that George Steinbrenner took the Yankees to from where they were when he acquired them was impossible. Yet that's what he did.

And it really is incredible. Through his constant drive to win and refusal to accept anything less the Yankees went from an organization with a lot of tradition of winning to an uber-organzation with an even greater tradition of winning. He continually pushed the organization to new heights, taking a team he purchased for $10 million in 1972 and turning it into a billion plus dollar enterprise over 30 years later.

Because of all of his efforts the Yankees continue to win more than any team in any major American professional sport. For that, I owe a lot of personal thanks to Mr. Steinbrenner. Sports is a great diversion in my life, a form of entertainment I derive a lot of joy from. It's my hobby that is really more of a passion. There is no team I devote more time to than the Yankees. If I calculated all of the time I spend watching, reading about, writing about, and thinking about the Yankees it would be a ridiculous number of hours per year. And I love it. Following the Yankees is a very enjoyable portion of my life. Thanks to Mr. Steinbrenner, I get to spend all of that time on a team that wins and wins and wins, which makes it all the more enjoyable. So thank you, Mr. Steinbrenner, for giving me and so many others the privilege of rooting for a team like this. He did a lot more important things for a lot of other people, but this was one big thing he did for many through his hard work and dedication to the Yankees organization. For that a lot of us owe him a lot of thanks.

4 comments:

the gm at work said...

PF,

I said it back in July. The guy was not a saint. He did a lot of things that were not above the board. That's why he got indicted and that's why he temporarily got banned from baseball. However, at the same time, you cannot say an owner in the history of sports wanted to win more than that guy did.

What I said in July was that the success of the team financially wasn't because he was a great businessman. It was just a side effect of how much he wanted to win. Jeremy Jacobs (the Bruins' owner) is a great businessman, satisfied with his team filling the seats seven more times by getting into the second round of the playoffs. Larry Lucchino is a great businessman, selling membership cards to an unofficial fan base, keeping his fans in the ballpark for an extra half hour before announcing a rainout to increase revenues, and cutting costs by shelling out moderate money for second-tier players instead of taking financial risks on Mark Teixeira. Do these guys care about winning? Maybe.

But not as much as George did.

You can even say that his sons care more about the income statement than winning, and that's why Damon is in Detroit.

Moving on to the game, though, can we get an overall evaluation on Granderson's season? Disappointing I'm sure, but how disappointing?

Patrick said...

i think that's an oversimplification. your points all stand. but just because there's a lot of people who put business before winning does not mean that people who put winning before business are not businessmen or that the winning is the only thing that created the good business. first, i would say that it was a great business decision to realize just how much putting a premium on winning would be good for business, all the way to the point where the yankees no longer had to make a decision between the two, they could have both. second, the success of the team financially was a combination of george wanting to win and him being a very good businessman. you can't have the type of success he had (not just with the yankees but with all of his other ventures), if you aren't a good businessman. i understand you might not have been saying he wasn't a good businessman and just that the major reason for the yankees success was his desire to win. either way i'm just saying he was a good businessman and it was a combination of both his desire to win and his ability as a businessman that the yankees have had the success that they've had.

Anonymous said...

DV/PF

There no secret here: It's good business to win. The fact that teams can make money without winning (by having a AAA squad and just keeping all the revenue sharing money) is a sin. Making money that way doesn't make you a smart businessman, it's makes you a parasite and a coward. Look at the Rays and Reds--sure they can't spend all kinds of money on free agents, but they can put a relatively significant amount into player development. And they have. And it's worked. Good for them. Their owners/GM's can rest easy knowing that they are stand-up Americans.

Speaking of the Rays, it's a damn shame that they don't sell out that dump of a stadium every night. All they do is win and yet their fans are more concerned about Bocce ball and shuffle board than a World Series caliber team.

Lastly, I already praised Steinbrenner when Pat posted at or near the time of his death, but it warrants repeating--anyone who is that competitive and driven should be commended. He was not always ethical (an understatement if ever there was one) and more than one rumor has circulated that he was entirely too domineering and treated many of his employees like cattle. That said, I would rather meet a person who is motivated to be a winner at all costs like George Steinbrenner was than to meet what is apparently the majority of people on the face of this earth who are entirely fine with mediocrity, or worse.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

Totally agree with you Gunn, it's an embarrassment that TB can't draw more than 15,000 in the heat of a division race even if it's not against the Yankees.

As for Steinbrenner, I don't think any of us lived through or were conscious of his really crazy years, late 70s, pretty much the entire 80s and early 90s, but from all that I read and learned about the guy he was kind of a scumbag, there's just no way to get around that. This was a guy who was booed in his own stadium after getting banned from baseball.

But what NYers will always appreciate about the guy is his desire to put the best product out there and win which he most certainly did. Everyone else may have hated him, but he was our guy.