ESPN continued their excellent documentary series 30 for 30 last night with a look in on George Steinbrenner. Usually when that name is brought up, a lot of unflattering images and thoughts immediately spring to mind among Yankee fans, and especially among their haters, of which there are many. We think of the ranting, the quick-firings, all the bluster that ran across the back pages, his “dedication to winning” while also tinkering with the team and creating a loser (hi, Randy Johnson!!). But what I never really thought of was his role in my life and the life of others.
When it comes right down to it, the Yankees are still just a baseball team. A $200 million dollar payrolled winning machine, true, but also a baseball team. For hundreds of thousands of people, the Yankees are how we grow up, it’s how we relate to our parents, and it’s how we kill any awkward moment out with a group of strangers. What was so striking in the film was the amount of longtime Yankee employs who were devastated by tearing down the old Stadium, describing their favorite memories, and how they almost unilaterally involved their children or their parents. Even Hal Steinbrenner, the next and current Boss of Note, related to his father the same way that we all relate to our parents as Yankee fans: through the team. And yes, we did see a lot more winning than losing (especially people in my age range).
In the end, the Yankees a simply a time machine, a way for us all to connect back to our fore fathers in the early part of the century, one long constant that carries on through the decades as we get farther and farther away from the past with each technological breakthrough. George knew this, valued its importance, and always strove to keep this specific side of his business in tact. I’m not judge enough to say if the ends justified the means; all I know is what the Yankees mean to me, to my dad, and to my friends. I want to thank Mr. Steinbrenner for what he built, and thus giving me the opportunity to share some history with the people I love.
Photo credit, while going to Kathy Willens of the AP, can be traced by to this link