Man, did I hate George Steinbrenner. I mean I really, really hated the guy. Today, I can safely say that if it weren’t for the fact that he was as good at his job as any owner in the history of professional sports, I probably couldn’t have cared less.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday morning at the age of 80 after suffering a massive heart attack. Steinbrenner had been in charge in the Bronx since 1973. During that 37-year span, he brought seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants to New York. He oversaw one of the most dominating franchises in Major League Baseball history and was one of the most feared figures in all of sports.
Growing up in the Boston-area, George Steinbrenner emerges as one of your first enemies. If your family was passionate about sports and wanted to teach you who you should love and who you should loathe, the hatred started right there. If you hated America, you probably hated the U.S. president. If you hated the Yankees, you certainly hated the man who became known most commonly as “The Boss.”
Those types of feelings are to be expected toward the centerpiece of your most hated rival, right? Yes and no. There are plenty of players, coaches, and general managers that I dislike because I think they’re morons. With Steinbrenner, I hated that arrogant grimace that was on his face every time the cameras showed him or he gave an interview. I couldn’t stand his cocky attitude or the fact that he had his team in the World Series discussion year after year. The fact that he always got his guy (see Alex Rodriguez) pissed me off more than you could believe. But most of all, I resented the jealousy I felt every time I heard that name.
Most of those feelings were dulled down a bit in 2004 when the Red Sox finally managed to get over the hump. We didn’t have listen to the “1918” chants anymore and the “Got Rings?” t-shirts ruffled our feathers a little less. However, whether I was willing to admit it or not (hint: I wasn’t), I trusted The Boss more than I trusted the home team’s ownership. He was a loose cannon that made irrational decisions and look where it got him. If I were a Yankees fan, he would have been my kind of guy.
It’s pure hypocrisy to sit here and say I love Bill Belichick and couldn’t stand George Steinbrenner, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. When it all boiled down to it and I sat back this morning and thought about my feelings toward the most influential Yankee of all-time, I kept coming back to one conclusion and one conclusion only – I hated the way The Boss did it right.
New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies at 80 [AP]