My condolences go out to Yankee fans. It’s only right.
I know what they’re going through.
Tuesday’s passing of George Steinbrenner truly captured the headlines in the sporting universe – and with good reason. Whether you liked him or not, it’s undeniable that the man they called “The Boss” was an iconic figure, under whose presence the Pride of the Bronx thrived admirably, to the tune of seven World Series championships, 11 American League pennants and 16 AL East titles.
But that’s not all.
Even at the end of his earthly days, Mr. Steinbrenner undoubtedly personified one of the most polarizing sorts that baseball (or sports, for that matter) has ever seen. But no one can forget that a very significant part of Yankee history was written under the supervision of an Ohio native who, in typical New York fashion, behaved like he was bigger than life. Which is why he’ll be remembered the most.
Since very few things are more valued in sports than the concept of identity, it shouldn’t be surprising to find New York baseball fans immersed in something like a state of shock. I can’t blame them. It is one thing to try to spot the right people that shall represent your teams commendably on the playing field. It’s entirely another that your team gets to be directed at the top by someone who precisely understands what you’re all about. For that, you need to be very, VERY lucky.
Sure, the objects of your affection may still find success along the way, while being led by people who could care less about the things that you stand for, but the corresponding stories would not be nearly as memorable as the one that found its ending on Tuesday.
Though there were quite a few instances where he could make a dictator look like a harmless puppy, not a single soul can deny that Mr. Steinbrenner was the perfect fit for the City That Never Sleeps. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have lasted as the owner of the Yankees. His take-no-prisoners approach earned him enemies. His ruthless tactics made him despicable. His win-at-all-costs mentality turned him into a cult celebrity. But above everything, he let New York know that he was the man in charge and he did so by embracing the culture of the region where he planted his roots. In return, the region embraced him back. It’s only fitting that the residents of the Big Apple and its environs reacted with so much sadness after Mr. Steinbrenner had reached the final frontier. I understand.
When Lamar Hunt passed away in December 2006, the thing I remember most about the event was the sheer emptiness that I felt upon hearing the TV reports. I just couldn’t help it, like a lot of Kansas Citians couldn’t either. Mr. Hunt’s outstanding body of work made us feel that way. With all the time, effort, money and emotions that we as fans invest on our favorite teams, we just cannot feel but attached to these people. It’s called commitment and the curious part is that it doesn’t even have to be a two-way-street. That day, I really felt like I was losing one of my own, even if he didn’t know the first thing about me.
So, whenever these instances occur, everything kind of takes a back seat for no better reason than my human nature. When the clock of life marks the time to go, you can’t avoid harboring some sympathetic feelings towards these kinds of characters. And I mean all of them, even if they aren’t necessarily of your liking. In the end, it really doesn’t matter if they went about their businesses in different ways, which Mr. Steinbrenner and Mr. Hunt definitely did.
It still hurts the same.
NFL PERSONNEL & NEWS FILE FOR TUESDAY, JULY 13
- JURISPRUDENCE – Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges of third-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute, sexual abuse and endangering a child all from a May incident with a 16-year old prostitute in a New York hotel room.
- BROWNS – NT Shaun Rogers will go into a year-long diversion program on Thursday when he’s arraigned in Cleveland for having a loaded handgun in his carry-on at the city’s airport. Back in April he was stopped as the security gate at Hopkins Airport when a .45 caliber gun was found in his carry-on bag. Rogers told security he forgot he had the loaded weapon in the bag. He will be required to complete a 10-your weapons course and 40 hours of community service. Rogers now waits for discipline from the NFL.
- EAGLES – signed 5th-round draft choice WR Riley Cooper to a 4-year, $ contract – the Florida product will try to break the string of Gators receivers who have struggled in transitioning to the NFL.
- JAGUARS – signed 5th-round draft choice DE Larry Hart to a 4-year, contract – out of Central Arkansas, Hart is one of four D-Linemen that Jacksonville drafted in April.
- STEELERS – agreed to a three-year contract extension with head coach Mike Tomlin – he still had one year and a club option season left on the deal he signed back in 2007 when he was hired to replace Bill Cowher. He’s 31-17 in three regular seasons as Pittsburgh’s leader, including a Super Bowl championship. Tomlin is just 38 years old; QB Ben Roethlisberger once again found himself in a controversy. Police in Dublin, Ohio investigated a complaint about public urination at the Muirfield Village Golf Club. The incident was reported by a woman who lives on the course. She named Roethlisberger as the man who took a pee between the 17th and 18th holes. The police determined that no crime was committed, although Roethlisberger and his foursome were gone from the club when the boys in blue got there.