The Single Greatest Sign Of Steinbrenner Excess Ever ….

September 21, 2010 |

Have you ever known someone who wanted the BIGGEST and BEST of everything? You know, the kinda dude who needed to feed his ego with extravagance or a domineering public persona …..

I’ll assume all of us have gathered friends or acquaintances who possessed such self importance, in one way or another.

Whether it was the guy who had to have the most expensive car on the parking lot or the woman who needed to be noticed by way of the flashiest jewels at a party, we’ve all met these kind of people.

The world of professional sports undoubtedly spawns such personalities. And, to be honest, the same can be said for Hollywood, the music industry and any other profession that yields instant millionaires.

Many men and women come from humble, meager backgrounds before making it BIG. More times than not, fame and fortune change them. I suppose it’s quite human in some ways, and I would likely fall in line if I ever stood in their shoes.

But, every once in a while, one personality stands out above all others when it comes to promoting themselves and dominating their own little facet of society.

That’s how I will honestly recall the legend of George Steinbrenner.
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Unlike many celebrities, who claim their wealth and prominence by the means described above, George Steinbrenner was born into financial security. And, by most accounts, he lived his life with such an ego.

Over the past couple months, I’ve met my share of people who actually knew or met Steinbrenner and their recollections were hardly positive. I might add that I know these individuals and I honestly trust their word.

I suppose this is probably the most justifiable point to certify that I have no desire to question the life of George Steinbrenner or any other human being. That judgement awaits all of us.

But, from my minion-like perspective, I do wonder why a man (or woman) is fueled by such obsessive desires to be more successful than everyone else. Such a trait exceeds anything tied to the spirit of competitiveness within the sports world.

George Steinbrenner carried a very public reputation of NEEDING to own the best baseball team. He NEEDED to spend the most money to achieve such goals. And, he NEEDED to do things his own stubborn way – even if it violated laws or the integrity of the game.

To an extent, I think we’re obligated to respect such a personal drive to succeed. But, when does it become excessive? When does it undermine what’s best for the greater good?

Before he died, I wrote a blog regarding Major League Baseball’s FUTURE Hall Of Famers. George Steinbrenner was on that list and I still harbor the same feelings.

I think he was an instrumental figure in ushering the game into its most modern era, which includes a financial vibrance that exceeded previous generations. He was a marketer and promoter of the product; there’s no doubting it.

However, I think most of us would’ve respected and appreciated a more humble version of “The Boss.” After all, great leaders or BOSSES don’t necessarily need to be so flamboyant, right?

This really leads me to last night’s unveiling of George Steinbrenner’s memorial plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park …..
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Be assured, I really don’t care about the happenings of the New York Yankees. And, I couldn’t really give a damn about their franchise’s recognitions and ceremonial distinctions.

However, this is different. It offends the history of the game.

Last night, George Steinbrenner joined a collection of baseball’s immortals. In fact, he stood out among them – with the unveiling of his highway “billboard,” in contrast to their “Wacco For Flacco” signs.

When a visitor encounters Monument Park, they’ll find plaques for a small collection of men who really made the game. It’s a very small and distinct group – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle. (note – Miller Huggins is included, as well)

Yet, that same visitor will undoubtedly be deterred from seeing the true LEGENDS, while first being blinded by the grandiose view of George Steinbrenner’s gaudy, 760 pound plaque. It measures 7X5 feet and greets every single visitor, at its entrance.

In case you’re wondering, Steinbrenner’s plaque is more than THREE TIMES the size of the plaques dedicated to the men who are actually considered among the greatest to ever play the game.

What a shame. What a sham. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a sad dedication to someone who never played the game. To think an owner could ever upstage Babe Ruth …..

But, that was George Steinbrenner, I suppose. And, it’s a clearly a tradition or arrogance his family is bent on fulfilling as they discharge their daily decisions. Good for them.

Events like last night’s ceremony, serve as a vivid reminder for guys like me. I’m happy and quite content in “Small-timore”. Regardless of the current state of our baseball team, I like the way we do things.

I look at how we memorialize our legends.

We keep it simple. We keep it traditional. It’s just the way I like it …..
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