Yankees prominent, provocative, and paradoxical owner George Steinbrenner passed away Tuesday at the age of 80 after suffering a heart attack. Though Steinbrenner relinquished the reins of everyday control of the Evil Empire to his sons Hal and Hank in 2007, he will eternally be associated and recognized as the man who returned the Yankees to prominence, changing the face of baseball and professional sports forever.
Now, if you're like me, you probably aren't too happy with George and the way he changed the landscape of professional sports - giving prima donna punks like Alex Rodriguez millions...and millions...and even more millions of dollars to play stickball. Most importantly, I remember that jerk face from keeping the hometown Braves - look, I know they're in Atlanta, but I figured from the amount of time they spend on my TV, they had to be from Birmingham - from winning back-to-back World Series championships in the 90s.
Known as a tyrant, even a meddler, as an owner, Steinbrenner was never content to sit on the sidelines, behind-the-scenes, or any other hands-off area. Rather, he was the quintessential micromanager, bickering and fighting with managers (most famously with Billy Martin, whom he hired/fired five different times). Steinbrenner was the money behind the monster that was the Yankees. He took over at a time when the team was run, almost as a fun little side project - the freaking Yankees - by CBS. He did whatever it took to make the team a winner again (which usually consisted of throwing copious amounts of money at high profile free agents).
But little known - certainly to yours truly - were Steinbrenner's many, many philanthropic exploits and ventures. In his hometown of the last decade, Tampa, FL, Steinbrenner was actively involved in numerous charitable ventures such as youth sporting leagues. I think it says a photograph (that's a thousand words) about the man that many did not know of this side. Rather than flaunt his philanthropy and force feed it to us to get good publicity, he was willingly to play the controversial figure for our entertainment while doing the right thing because it was the right thing.
So I just wanted to give a little tip of the cap (I'm as surprised as you are) to George Steinbrenner. I didn't always...okay, ever, agree with you, but I can respect the passion you had for the game. Your commitment is unquestioned and unparalleled. Here's to you George. Cheers.