As promised earlier today, what follows are my further thoughts on the news of George Steinbrenner’s passing this morning.
Here, I will not provide a chapter and verse account of the Steinbrenner story. There’s really no need for that at this junction. Big Stein had both his good deeds and his bad moves. In fact, there were many of those on each side of the ledger for him. Most of them are well-known by now. And, if you don’t know the details on these, I highly recommend reading Bill Madden’s book on Steinbrenner – it’s one of the better sources for everything you need to know about the life of this man.
More so, I want to convey how this Yankees fan feels, today, regarding the death of “The Boss.”
As I shared earlier today with WFAN’s Neil Keefe, there was good reason to be prepared for what happened today. After all, George Steinbrenner has been a ghost on the Yankees scene for the last three years. And, in fact, Big Stein really hasn’t been the same since that church service for Otto Graham back in December 2003. Bottom line, he was a severely ill 80-year old man at the time of his death.
But, as I mentioned just 15 days ago, in my mind, the image of George Steinbrenner is from his salad days of the 1970′s and ’80s. Yeah, I know, this was also the period just leading into the time where “Steinbrenner Sucks” chants became popular at Yankee Stadium. And, there were probably some moments therein where I was also perturbed over something he did where I disagreed with what went down. It’s just that “The Boss” as a man in his late 40′s and 50′s was such a larger than life entity that it’s hard for me to let that imprint go – even if that wasn’t the “most popular” Steinbrenner.
Yes, the “kinder and gentler” reinstated Steinbrenner from the mid-to-late 1990′s and early 2000′s never really overwrote that aforementioned image of George for me. Why? It’s because I was in my teens and twenties during the late ’70′s and 1980′s. And, we are more impressionable as younger fans, aren’t we?
Due to my mind’s eye view of Steinbrenner, I lacked the preparation that others may have been armed with today. Therefore, I was surprised when the news broke this morning.
This feeling was soon followed by sadness.
I know that, in most situations, we should not be sad over the passing of an octogenarian suffering from Alzheimer’s – especially one who had lived a life as full as George Steinbrenner. And, I am somewhat mad at myself for feeling this way.
But, here’s the deal. I became a baseball, and a Yankees, fan in 1973 when I was 10-years old. As such, I’ve never known a time in Yankeeland where there wasn’t a George Steinbrenner. And, even if Big Stein has been a shadow in recent years, at least he was still among us in some fashion and could be referred to as being in the Yankees house.
Today, that’s over. “The Boss” has left the building. The Big Stein era is officially a closed book. Along with many of the other changes in Yankeeland since 2004, it’s something that will never be the same.
Sure, the memories will always be there. And, someday, there will be some related bonus moments that come from the wake of today – such as the day that George Steinbrenner joins those in the Baseball Hall of Fame (in Cooperstown). Nonetheless, with the death of George Steinbrenner another star goes black in the Yankees galaxy that I’ve been staring at for my entire life.
Other Yankees fans, especially those older and younger than me, may not feel this same way. After all, they have their own Yankees galaxies formed from their own stars that they’ve been gazing at during their life. Related, maybe their Yankees view has more black spots than mine or has more stars still shining in theirs – and the Steinbrenner void doesn’t carry the same impact? Dunno for sure…but it’s possible…I suppose.
All I do now, for sure, is how I feel about Big Stein’s passing. And, now you know it too.