By George! Life After Steinbrenner?
by: Lucky Ngamwajasat | Special To NY Sports Day | Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Whether you love George Steinbrenner or hate him, you have to give the man his due.

The former ship builder bought the Yankees for $8.7 million in 1973 and turned the organization into a billion dollar conglomerate. During his time as the team’s owner, he’s threatened to move the team to New Jersey, paid a gambler $40,000 to spy on Dave Winfield, got banned for life from baseball and made tabloid headlines for the last three decades.

But as Steinbrenner enters the twilight of his life, one can only wonder: what happens to the Yankees when he’s gone?

For Yankee fans, Steinbrenner can be seen as a savior and a curse. The team was in a dilapidated state at the time when the now 74-year-old shipping mogul purchased the Yankees from CBS. Rebuilding the club and making them arguably the most important franchise in all of professional sports, He has won six championships under his reign and has made the Yanks a money making machine. He’s also ordered the hirings and firings of countless managers, coaches and executives, along with authorizing some of the worst trades in team history.

For Yankee haters, Steinbrenner is seen as an overbearing oligarch, greedily buying the best players to quench his never-ending thirst for championships. Every word Steinbrenner utters out of his mouth is instant copy for the legions of sports reporters that cover the Yankees and usually makes the back pages of most of the papers in the city, if not the country.

In the past few seasons however, Steinbrenner has become more reclusive and less involved in the day-to-day operations of the team. According to an article written in the New York Post on February 22, Steinbrenner’s handlers have “designed a plan yesterday that ensured reporters couldn't get to The Boss” and that “the Yankees held meetings to design plans to keep Steinbrenner away from the swarm of reporters who followed him in the halls last year.” George still has that old bluster, as witnessed after the Yanks lost in four games to the Tigers in the playoffs last year, wanting to fire Joe Torre, but nowhere near close to the fire and brimstone of the old Boss.

Despite all his character strengths and flaws, Steinbrenner will sorely be missed. If and when Steinbrenner leaves the Yankees, the organization could possibly lose the hunger for championships that Steinbrenner has. His drive to win titles and his willingness to spend absorbent sums of money for players makes Steinbrenner a model owner in professional sports – spending money to make money. The worst possible scenario is for the Steinbrenner family to sell the team to a corporation like Cablevision and see the once proud franchise ruined by a horrible owner like James Dolan.

Yankee haters will also miss sniping at their favorite target, missing the joy of humbling the arrogant when the Yanks lose.

Internally, the Yankees have begun the process of structuring the organization. General Manager Brian Cashman has seized control of the baseball side of the team, while Steinbrenner’s son-in-law Steve Swindal has been more involved with the business aspects of the Yanks. Swindal is perceived to be the hand-picked successor to the Boss, although Swindal’s recent DWI arrest in Florida wasn’t his best career move. Regardless of who or what replaces Steinbrenner, any news or quotes of the Boss will be welcomed during the 2007 season.

Soon, those stories will be gone.