A Pinstriped Flashback

Carl StoffersCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2010

NEW YORK - JULY 16:  A patch honoring the late owner George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees is seen on a uniform prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Steinbrenner died on July 13 at age 80. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Riding home yesterday, I heard on the local sports talk station that Lou Piniella announced he will "retire" at the end of the season. Several thoughts immediately flashed in my mind (as they would with any good, self-respecting New York area sports fan).

Initially, my thought was "well, if Girardi blows it this year, The Boss will bring back Sweet Lou in a heartbeat."

Then it hit me. The Boss really is gone.

I spent my youth and young adulthood rooting for the Steinbrenner-led Yankees. I suffered through many a Sunday afternoon at the "old" Stadium (which is not to be confused with the "original", which I was too young to ever have experienced) watching immortals like Steve Kemp and Mel Hall help the Yankees lose.

I watched golden-armed Andy Hawkins and fireballer Cecilio Guante blow lead after lead. I cheered when the "trade George" signs were held up at the Stadium.

Of course, once the 1990's dawned and the Boss was suspended from baseball, Gene Michael and the other Yankees 'baseball people' were able to turn the organization around with a youth movement which produced Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada.

The "Core Four"  have led the Yankees to multiple World Series titles since 1996. There was no "Jeter and Rivera for Ken Phelps" deal, mainly because the Boss wasn't around to make it.

By the time he was reinstated, the foundation for all those championships was already firmly in place. All the Boss had to do was sit back and watch the Yankees win.

He never could just sit back though, and until recent years, the Boss still loomed over everything Yankees. There was now a certain comfort in knowing that the owner was as passionate about winning as the die hard fans. What a difference a bunch of titles makes.

So, after reminding myself that George Steinbrenner is gone, how there would be no back page headline in New York screaming that the Boss is obligated to bring back Lou Piniella (I can see it now: "Memo to Boss: SWEET-en the pot, get Lou back"), how he would not be leaking word that Girardi will be fired after some meaningless 2-game losing streak in early August, and how there would be no more Patton-esque decrees from Tampa, I realized that another piece of my youth was gone forever.

Rest in Peace, Boss.