To me, George Steinbrenner will always be the influential asshole who dictated what did and did not appear on stage at the Tampa Performing Arts Center. He's a name on a high school in Tampa Bay, a name on a street and the name on a minor league field. And good for him. Now he's dead, his legacy is in place and there's one more table available at Malio's.
A lot of people don't know how much Steinbrenner loved Tampa, how long he had been a part of the city and what he did to make sure that the town kept improving (or winning, to use his vernacular) but you know what? Fuck him.
Steinbrenner was an asshole. And assholes get shit done. Assholes win the games at all cost, they make more money than you, they hand million and billion dollar legacies to their spoiled kids, they dominate and control and when they fail, they freak the fuck out.
Assholes help make America what it is. And that's great. We are aggressive and mean, shortsighted and strong, and sometimes more than overbearing, just like George. But more to the point, we are capable of change, which means we can move on, we can forget our traditions and replace them with new ones, we can celebrate what it means to take something great and make it greater. We can, in short, dispose of our emotions like a Styrofoam coffee cup and never look back.
And that's why I don't care. And, unless you are a Yankee fan, you shouldn't care either.
All of the talking heads today will skim over the fact that the man was twice banned from baseball, that he received a presidential pardon, that he fired and hired the same manager five times apiece, that he hired a criminal to dig up dirt on one of his players, that he badmouthed his team and his players every time they disappointed him. If George was my Dad, he'd have kicked me out of the house when I was ten. And I'd have left. Because fuck him that's why.
And I don't hate the Yankees. I'm an NL guy and could care less about the Yankees or their fans (two of my best friends are die-hard Yankee fans) so I can say without any sense of bias and regret that though the man was good for baseball (in the long run) and somewhat good for Tampa (again in the long run), he was a prick.
And he was an unapologetic prick.
It is no secret that I can be a bit of an asshole, that I am impulsive and often rude. I don't apologize for that and I won't. And neither did George. Which is great. He was who he was: a red-blooded, tough minded American, representative of much that is both wrong and right with this great nation.
So, in an effort to emulate The Boss, I raise my beer and offer the following toast:
Eat a bag of shit, Boss. And see you in hell.