07/17/2010

George Steinbrenner

Everybody had an opinion of George Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday of a massive heart attack.

He wanted to win every game and publicly criticized and fired players and managers when they lost. He had been a football coach and did not grasp that baseball is played every day for six months, and you can’t win ‘em all.

He got suspended from baseball for a year for hiring a gambler to dig up dirt on star player Dave Winfield. He was not the nice, well-intentioned boss who showed excessive zeal once in a while.

He was suspended earlier, in the Watergate era, for illegally channeling corporate funds to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign.

He hired and fired Billy Martin five times as Yankee manager.  He knew Martin had an emotional need to be the Yankee manager, and The Boss exploited that vulnerability.  In each of these sieges with the owner, Martin’s alcohol addiction got worse.

He was the first owner to pay millions of dollars to free agents Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. That permanently changed the game. He pioneered a team-owned cable TV network, which widened the gap between Yankee wealth and everyone else’s.

Love, hate or admire the man, there will never be another one. He changed the game permanently in ways that are still controversi

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