It's easy for Pirates fans, and a lot of baseball fans in general, to hate long-time Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away this morning at the age of 80. He was the symbol of what small market teams and their supporters despised about the sport. Steinbrenner and the Yankees had the money to buy all the best players. Even worse, they could even buy all the overrated players who were busts for the team and not have to worry about setting the franchise back five years. Small markets teams can't afford to make these mistakes and continue to be successful.
Find me a team and fan base out there that wouldn't want this man running the ship. How many times have we all called out our teams' owners for not spending the extra money to acquire that missing piece that could put us over the edge? Yankees fans never had an opportunity to make that statement. If there was a player Steinbrenner thought would give his team the edge, he tried like hell to sign him.
Sure, we of the small market teams hate these owners with bottomless pockets, but that's because our owners have limits and we don't understand how great it is to have perennial contenders. We could never buy a winning team. Ours has to made of home grown talent that hopefully pans out.
But here is something we all seem to forget about Steinbrenner and the Yankees. They did build from within to gain their core of players who went on to lead the team to greatness in the late 90s. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams were all developed by the Yankees. These weren't players who established themselves as stars in small markets who fled to the big money of the Yankees once free agency came around. Yes, Steinbrenner spent money to surround these players with talent, but there is no way the championships they did without this core.
Also, baseball is just as much to blame as Steinbrenner. They are the ones who allowed Major League Baseball to have no salary cap, giving the Yankees an advantage over the world. How can a man following the rules of the game be blamed for the league's problems?
I didn't always agree with his actions, but I can't help but think of how awesome it must be to have an owner who shows how much he cares about the team and winning. This generation of Pirates fans have no idea what it's like to have that kind of leader. One who will call out the players or manager for not meeting the organization's expectations.
I'm also just trying to suck up to Steinbrenner now because he will have probably bought heaven or hell (depending on where we both end up) by the time I get there.
AC/DC - Money Talks