The New York Yankees sent seven players to Angel Stadium for the All-Star game. This past week they've sent two legends to Angel heaven. Baseball lost a legend today and he's looking down on us now.
The problem is, most people looked down on him during his ownership career that began in 1973. What a career it was. As a young Yankees fan I sit here and try to write this but something doesn't feel right. As I watch current players Andy Pettite and Alex Rodriguez along with current coach Joe Girardi speak about Mr. Steinbrenner's passing one thing stands out to me.
Where is Derek Jeter?
Derek Jeter is not with those three Yankees, but I have a feeling that Jeter's actions in the All-Star game tonight will speak volumes as to how he feels about the man who brought him to the organization. Steinbrenner made the 36 year old man who was once a 21 year old prospect stud.
Despite the controversial moments throughout his career, whether you hated or loved George, you have to tip your hat to him.
The Yankees introduced a new stadium last season in 2009 and it was a sight to behold. I was able to see it once and was taken aback by it. When you walk through those gates, you see the field, you look up to the box, and you know this billion dollar stadium resembled the man who spent billions of dollars to bring in the best players.
Despite the Dave Winfield controversy in which he paid $40,000 to a small time gambler named Howie Spira to get inside dirt on Dave Winfield after Winfield failed to pay $300,000 to Steinbrenner's foundation, Steinbrenner will be known as the face of the Yankees.
He may have been the man who caused a lot of baseball fans to hate the Yankees, but he was fine with that.
Steinbrenner said two things that I will never forget. "I will never have a heart attack, I give them." Steinbrenner also said, "winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next."
The irony that Steinbrenner passed away due to a massive heart attack at age 80 even though he said he never would echoes of the same irony that occurs when you remember he said he wasn't a fan of free agency. So much for that.
The most important thing to Steinbrenner was winning. ESPN's Buster Olney called him the greatest sports owner of all time. Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones said Steinbrenner was "irreplaceable." He leaves the baseball world with his organization defending a World Series title.
There's a reason he was able to return to baseball. There's a reason the Yankees are one of the most hated and loved teams in sports. There's a reason the Yankees can own a billion dollar stadium, a reason they can pay the top free agents to come play for them. That reason is because Steinbrenner was a winner, he leaves us all with his love/hate legacy but we all will miss him.
There's a reason Derek Jeter is not only the player, but the man he is today. In his conference on Steinbrenner's passing Jeter said "he wasn't just an owner, he was a good friend of mine." An owner, as a friend? That speaks volumes.
George said he wanted on his tombstone that "he never stopped trying." Well, he never stopped trying and neither have the Yankees.
R.I.P. George Steinbrenner, your legacy will live on, not only through the Yankees, but through Major League Baseball.