George Steinbrenner made the New York Yankees into a giant monster, as some of his advisories would call it. He bought the franchise for almost $9 million, and died with the franchises value almost $2 billion. His creation of a media network just for his baseball team, although unheard of at the time, is one of the smartest business moves of the 21st century. Steinbrenner re legitimized the Yankee organization following a rough patch in the early 1970's. In this article, it will be shown how Steinbrenner's rise to power and dominance was done through just simple personality traits. Everything he said and did made him into the man that owned more than just the Yankees.
"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next."
George Steinbrenner would put other owners to shame with his competitive streak. Steinbrenner would go overboard a lot however, with this desire to win. He would sign and trade at will. Fire and rehire coaches and other staff members whenever he wasn't pleased. Sometimes these would work, other times they wouldn't. But there was absolutely no denying that Steinbrenner wanted to win no matter what. As a Yankee's fan who fell in love with the team in the late 90's, at the height of their championship run, Steinbrenner's willingness to win was one of the things that brought me into the team. But after the 2001 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Steinbrenner went insane. Signings of questionable free agents like Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright led some, including myself, to believe that Steinbrenner was going to far with his power. You see, Steinbrenner had to have unlimited power. He had to manipulate general managers and managers because he wanted to win so bad. Without Steinbrenner, it is easy to say that the Yankees do not win the championship of the 90's. But it also easy to say that King George's dominance over the organization led to those championships being won in spite of him, which I will get to later in the article.
George was very loyal to his city, there is no denying that. The amount of players and managers he brought in should have satisfied the public. But the problem with George is that he was not always loyal to those players and managers he brought in. Sure he had moments:
"It's not right to say send Darryl Strawberry to prison. What did he do?...He has a sickness. A disease. If you want to go after people, go after the... people who who are selling the stuff."
That defense of Strawberry was a noble thing of Steinbrenner to do, as Strawberry was struggling through a tough time where no one outside of Steinbrenner wanted to give him another chance. Strawberry would go on to be a vital part of the Yankee dynasty in the late 90's.
Although Mount Steinbrenner showed he could be somewhat caring, he could erupt faster than any volcano on Earth. He would fire employees for not ordering his lunch correctly. He would bash players (Dave Winfield, most notably) for not performing immediately. When I think of how Winfield was ripped and called "Mr. May", I wonder how he would have gone after Alex Rodriguez when he struggled in the postseason previously. A-Rod would have been gone, no matter what the contract, if Mount Steinbrenner was healthy. To me, the firing of Yogi Berra is one of the worst things an owner has done in the history of professional sports. After going 6-10 to start the season, Yogi was fired in 1985. Yogi vowed never to return to New York afterword. For the love of God, this is YOGI BERRA. Yogi is the Yankees. He thirteen World Series as a player and coach, what more do you want? How can you even get mad at Yogi? Have you ever looked Yogi, the most adorable eighty year old man in the world? Yogi has given so much to the franchise, and to treat him like dirt is horrible. Absolutely horrible.
My other problem with in this category is with Billy Martin. The way Steinbrenner played this guy is one of the morally worst things I have ever seen. All this man wanted to do was coach and be around the New York Yankees, and Steinbrenner played this man like a fiddle.
Steinbrenner tried so hard to be loyal to his city by bringing in all these players and managers, trying always to win, he overlooked being loyal to his employees. One of his famous quotes was
"When it comes to hiring, number one for me is loyalty."
Steinbrenner not only wanted to be loyal to his city, but he wanted people loyal to himself.
To George Steinbrenner, loyalty and competitiveness were the two most important things in the world. He always wanted to win, for the city of New York. But at the same time, he would do these things at the expense of the employees, and sometimes the city, a point I brought up earlier. As far as the city was concerned, sometimes they were brought to their knees by Steinbrenner's unholy desire to win. During that stretch of 2002-2006, so many horrible free agents were brought in, we though Steinbrenner had gone mad. He was giving away top prospects left and right, and spending money freely. It wasn't until he relinquished control of the Yankees in 2006 where the Yankees drafted smarter and kept their young and picked up guys who they knew would succeed. In fact, one could argue that in 2009, the Yankees won the Series in spite of Steinbrenner's destruction of the team in the early 2000's.
Steinbrenner was the definition of an imperfect man. He cared for his family, whether that was his real family or his players. He wanted to win so badly, and loved the city of New York. He loved children and gave back to various charities. At the same time, he was a crazy person, to say the least, one absorbed with winning. Sure he did some bad things, but he made the Yankees in the most dominant sports franchise today. The YES Network has brought much of the Yankees revenue in, and is one of the smarter business decisions of the decade. Due to the luxury tax that baseball has, Steinbrenner has given money to the low-market clubs, keeping them a float. One of the quotes I read that is now extremely ironic, but sums up George's life and personality perfectly.
"I don't have heart attacks, I give them."
I remember George mainly by his character on Seinfeld. He was not around much when I first became a fan, so I now remember Steinbrenner by reruns and through syndication. "Hire this man!" Rest in peace, George.