George Steinbrenner: One More Eulogy
I hate the New York Yankees. I hate that they win all of the time. And I hate that everything that happens in baseball seems to revolve around the Yankees. I hate that the team has its own network. And that the Yankees have a seemingly endless supply of money on which to buy free agents as well as have a deep, stocked farm system.
I do not, and did not, hate the man responsible for this, George Steinbrenner. While I was never a fan of The Boss, I respected his passion for his team, and his willingness to do anything that would make the Yankees a winning ball club. In most ways, he was the owner that every fan wants to have of their team.
I wish the current person running the Astros cared about winning as much as Steinbrenner.
Sure, Drayton McLane has paid some big bucks for free agents like Carlos Lee, but he's never gone all in for it like Steinbrenner. And while Tal Smith might have spoke about Steinbrenner keeping people on the payroll long after they no longer had a function with the team, it seems as if the current Astros payroll is loaded down with people who don't have a useful role with the team, like Tal Smith and Ed Wade.
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There's no way that Steinbrenner would have ever hired a guy like Cecil Cooper to be his manager, and there's no definitely no way that Steinbrenner would have allowed to stay on as manager for as long as he did. And while it seems like Drayton has been through a lot of managers, it's nothing compared to the number of managers that Steinbrenner went through in his attempts to win baseball games.
Of course, unlike Drayton, Steinbrenner paid out big bucks to get his manager the talent needed to win ball games. But Steinbrenner didn't just buy free agents, he built and stocked a deep farm system. The Yankee teams that won all of the World Series under Steinbrenner might have had some big money free agents, but those teams were stocked with guys who came up through the Yankee system, or were acquired in trades for guys from the Yankee farm system.
Mostly now, when I think of The Big Stein, I think of how he was portrayed on Seinfeld as the big lovable goof. Not every powerful person would just give a sitcom permission to use his name and likeness that, and Larry David and company tore him apart episode after episode. Yet Steinbrenner liked it so much that, not only did he let them use his likeness, he even made a cameo on the show.
Could you just see some sitcom trying to lampoon Drayton McLane? Most people would never believe a guy like that could be an owner. And it is doubtful Drayton would let anybody treat him like that. But the sad thing is that unlike The Big Stein, who traded George Costanza to Tyler Chicken, Drayton instead gave his Costanza equivalent, Ed Wade, the job as general manager.
I don't like the Yankees, and the death of George Steinbrenner is not going to make me start rooting for the Yankees this season. But the game is going to be a little more boring now that The Big Stein is gone.
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