Ironically enough, I was in the Yankees Clubhouse Store in New York City when I heard about the passing of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

As I browsed player t-shirts while watching ESPN, I began to realize what an impact Steinbrenner had on the Yankees.

Love him or hate him, he is a legend. Period.

Steinbrenner knew what he wanted, and he was not afraid to go after it.

Setting a grooming policy for his players? Check.

Getting the free agents he wanted? Check.

Building New York into World Series champions? Check.

I realize why fans of other baseball teams couldn’t stand Steinbrenner and the Yankees. He built winning teams. This would naturally aggravate other fans, especially those of the rival Mets and Red Sox.

If I weren’t a Yankees’ fan, I’d be mad too.

But Steinbrenner shaped the team not only into winners, but into dignified men that Yankees’ fans were, and still are, proud to support.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a female, but let me be honest. I would much rather stand behind a groomed Derek Jeter, who is humble, polite, and a true leader, than Manny Ramirez, with his long dreadlocks and his massive ego.

You could say Steinbrenner bought championships. But I believe that all the money in the world can’t “buy” a title in any sport if the players don’t work well together or don’t get along with their coaches.

Besides, how come people say that only the Yankees “buy” championships? How come they haven’t accused past World Series champions, such as the Phillies and the Red Sox, of doing the same thing?

As an owner or general manager, you have to go out and sign the best players available for the best amount of money you can offer. If you have top money, you’re going to get top talent.

Likewise, if you have bottom of the barrel money, you have to get the players no one else really wants, and a long and miserable season is likely in your future.

What about everyone who thinks of Steinbrenner as a terrible person?

Sure, he was brutally honest. He was tough. He never coddled Yankees players.

But he touched many lives.

Many kids will benefit from college scholarships he helped establish. Boys and Girls Clubs are stronger because of him. Young hospital patients will benefit from top care at a pediatric wing named for him at a Tampa hospital.

When Yankees players, such as Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte, were interviewed today, you could tell that Steinbrenner cared deeply for them. Despite his tough love, he changed their lives and helped shape them into the All-Star players they are today.

You know that big shiny stadium the Yankees play in? That wouldn’t have been possible without Steinbrenner.

People can criticize the stadium all they want, but I’m sure he really felt the team deserved more. Now we can see a top of the line team in a top of the line ballpark. I know I’m not complaining.

Although some of the comments about Steinbrenner have been filled with vitriol, his legacy is undeniable.

His loss is sure to be felt for a long time, but I am confident the Yankees will continue to be strong.

Steinbrenner’s children have prominent roles in Yankees management. They know what their father wanted, seeing as they were around his job and the team for almost their whole lives. The Boss would likely want his family to carry on what he so carefully put in place, and I’m sure they will do just that.

And I’m even more confident that the Yankees’ players and coaching staff respected him too much to tear apart the standards for excellence.  If anything, Steinbrenner’s passing probably fuels their desire to win a 28th World Championship.

As the Yankees prepare to return home on Friday, there will undoubtedly be an air of sadness over the field.  

With Old Timers Day this weekend, I’m sure that at some point, Steinbrenner will get the send off he deserves.

R.I.P, Boss. You will never be forgotten.

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