George Steinbrenner suddenly died this morning at the age of 80 years, but his legacy will go down for one main idea: winning.
Winning is what encompassed Steinbrenner's 37 years at the helm of the Yankees. He saw his team win seven World Series, 11 American League pennants and over 3,000 games.
The Yankees won more division titles than any team in baseball since 1973. For those reasons, Steinbrenner will be remembered (at least to Yankee fans) above anything else. One hundred wins was no rare feat under Steinbrenner's watch, but what 10 teams stand out as George's best?
Many of the centerpieces of the Yankee Dynasty were entering their final year with the club and were in the twilight of their careers. Nevertheless, that Yankees squad won 95 games despite a rocky back of the rotation and diminishing returns from the lineup.
That team still found a way to get to the World Series after ousting the 116-win Seattle Mariners in a one-sided ALCS. The team had their fourth straight World Series literally chilling on ice in the clubhouse before Luis Gonzalez stepped to the plate. Despite a Dynasty-shattering loss, the team remains one of George's best.
Before the late-1990s Yankee Dynasty there was the 1994 squad that held a 70-43 record and looked like the best team in baseball. Then the MLB strike hit.
Led by Paul O'Neill who won the batting title year with a .359 average and Jimmy Key, who was on his way to a Cy Young Award due to a 17-4 record and 3.27 ERA, the Yankees were a buzzsaw running through baseball before the games were halted.
We'll never know what might have been that season, but through August 12 they had all the look of a champion.
That year's Yankee team is most remembered for coming short in the World Series to the underdog Marlins after an epic seven-game ALCS win over the Red Sox, but boy they were simply lethal in the regular season.
The 101-win Yankees featured the stateside arrival of Hideki Matsui, a breakout 38-home run season by Alfonso Soriano, and 41 home runs from Jason Giambi. The Yankee starting pitching received 70 wins from Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, David Wells and 21-win Andy Pettitte.
The Yankees won the division by six games, winning 100 games for the second of three straight years.
If any one team in baseball history ever gutted out a title, it was the 2000 Yankees. That year's team won only 87 games including a 13-18 mark after September 1 and looked like it was falling on its face heading into the playoffs.
The Yankees survived a five-game series in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics before heating up and dispatching of the Mariners in the ALCS and the Mets in the World Series for George's sixth World Series crown.
The 1996 Yankees were the perfect blend of pitching and offense with a quiet assuming air of a team ready to take the next step. However, few had big expectations for this team after the Yankees failure in the 1995 ALDS and the unpopular hiring of Joe Torre.
Torre, however, made "The Boss" look like a genius. Torre took the Yankees to the franchise's first World Series title in 18 years, including a surprising come-from-behind series win over the favored, defending champion Atlanta Braves.
How could the 1999 Yankees have possibly topped what the previous edition did in 1998? Well, the 1999 Yankees, who went 98-64, didn't exceed the prior year's club but they did match them by winning a second and third straight title in four years.
The Yankees were led that season by Derek Jeter's best season (.349, 24 HRs, 102 RBI, 219 hits, 134 runs) and 68 wins out of the starting rotation. The Yankees went 11-1 that postseason including a series sweep over the Braves.
Billy Martin didn't last to see the Yankees successfully defend their title when George fired him after a 52-42 start. However, under interim manager Bob Lemon the Yankees went 48-20, catching the Boston Red Sox in the Boston Massacre. Bucky Dent hit the home run, the Yankees beat the Royals in the ALCS and eventually the Dodgers to win the 1978 World Series.
After being swept by the Cincinnati Reds in 1976, Steinbrenner's dream of building the Yankees into a championship team became reality in 1977.
Steinbrenner signed Reggie Jackson (who hit 32 home runs and drove in 110 RBI that season), Thurmon Munson and Graig Nettles had career seasons which all combined for a 100-62 record.
Chris Chambliss hit the pennant-winning home run over the Royals in Game Five of the ALCS. Reggie hit three bombs in the Series and the Yankees won their first World Series in 13 years.
"Big Stein" had officially arrived.
The Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008, but arrived in 2009 with "Mission #27" and the goal of winning a World Series for George Steinbrenner. There was no stopping the Yankees from July 1 onward as they went 58-25 over their last 83 games.
The Yankees season was never truly in jeopardy in the postseason as the Yankees rang in the first year of "The House That George Built" with the franchise's 27th World Series title.
Was there any doubt? The 1998 Yankees were a team bent on the destruction of Major League Baseball. They were a well-oiled machine that could not be stopped. The Yankees raced to an 89-29 record (60!! games over .500....let that sink in) and left the rest of baseball in its wake.
The Yankees won the AL East by 22 games and went 11-2 in the postseason. The Yankees set a then-AL record with 114 regular season wins and still hold the MLB record for most cumulative wins in a season with 125.
The 1998 Yankees are not only George Steinbrenner's best team, they are regularly considered the best team in baseball history.