So. How do we handle this?
It seems disingenuous to suddenly lionize a man that this region viewed as a jokey cult-villain. But that’s what George Steinbrenner was: A guy who was so successful with a rival team that we needed to caricaturize him just to deal with the fact that he wasn’t our owner.
So let’s suddenly lionize a man that this region viewed as a jokey cult-villain. Here’s five reasons to do it. But we’ll still be fair.
1) This man could take a beating.
“Having people scream nasty things at you is part of sports. I've had my share of it. They pay their money, they can say what they want.”
And turn a phrase.
“If you haven't got a hernia yet, you ain't pulling your share.”
Here's more from Esquire.
2) No one else in the world could inspire this headline from The Onion the day of his or her death: “George Steinbrenner Dead After Firing Underperforming Heart.”
A fully self-endorsed butt of the joke on Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live, no one else in the world would see the headline as the compliment that it is, either.
“Don’t ever get so serious that you can't laugh at yourself,” he said.
3) His death inspired what appears to be the first intelligent thing written in the history of Facebook. Here’s reader Justin Tappan from Boston.Com's Facebook page:
“George was a loud, brash, colorful, charitable and iconic a**hole - and I say that with affection. He made baseball a better place, even if he made our lives as Sox fans a bit rough at times. He will be missed.”
4) George allows for the memorial amplification of Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep. It’s about a happily self-assured, newly-created ghost bossing around the heavens to find his body. If this isn’t Steinbrenner in his newest incarnation, nothing is:
(Today's Soundtrack: Wintersleep - Weighty Ghost)
Where’d my body go? Africa or Mexico? Oh, where’d my body go?
Have you seen my ghost?
Staring at the ground?
Have you seen my ghost?
Sick of those g-d d--n clouds ...
You can’t kill something that’s already dead
Just leave my soul alone ...
Just wanna die in my own body
A ghost just needs a home
5) An active opponent of free agency (“I am dead set against free agency. It can ruin baseball,” he said at its inception), Steinbrenner invented the perfect attitude about it: This sucks, but let’s manipulate it to win.
The Red Sox would eventually adopt this philosophy 40 years later. They’d use to win two World Series titles.
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