The baseball world has lost a legend.

George Steinbrenner, though he never played a game in a Yankees’ uniform, was by far, one of the sport world’s most influential persons. 

Arguably, outside of Manchester United, the New York Yankees are the most recognizable franchise on the planet.

He did it by re-establishing the Yankees glory by winning championships.

When he purchased the team in 1973, it had been 15 years since their last world championship.

Within three years he had the Yankees back in the World Series. By the end of the 90’s the Yankees would dominate Major League Baseball, winning four championships in five seasons from 1996-2000.

Known as “The Boss” he was driven to win. Anything less was unacceptable.

In a Twin Cities radio interview today Jim Kaat, former pitcher and broadcaster for the New York Yankees, described Steinbrenner as a man who wasn’t afraid to spend money for players, and had enough of it to make up for any mistakes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Minnesota Twins.

Steinbrenner’s presence has had a huge impact on Major League Baseball. 

Last year long time Twins’ owner Carl Pohlad passed away. He owned the Twins for 25 years. Like Steinbrenner, the ownership was a family affair, and his sons now run the team.

When Pohlad purchased the Twins in 1984 he was immediately lauded as a savior. 

Calvin Griffith, the previous owner was known as a tight-fisted owner, unwilling to spend anything to improve the team.

The Twins were known as the feeder program to Major League Baseball. Unwilling to sign anyone to lucrative contracts, they were traded away for prospects.

The Twins’ glory days of the early 60’s were long gone.

Like Steinbrenner, Pohlad was able to turn the franchise around. The team went from 102 losses in 1982, to a World Series Championship five years later in 1987, the third year Pohlad owned the team.

Another short four seasons later, and the Twins had won their second title.

Life was good. Pohlad was king.

That’s where the similarities between Pohlad and Steinbrenner end.

New York is MAJOR MARKET,  the largest city in America, while Minneapolis is the epitome of small market as the 47th largest.   There was no way Pohlad could compete with Steinbrenner.

Even when Minnesota set the single season attendance record in 1988, with over three million fans, it did not create enough revenue to sustain the Twins’ roster.

The team was once again trading stars for prospects.

In 1989 the Twins traded World Series MVP and Cy Young award winner, Frank Viola to the Mets. This move helped to earn their second World Series title, but in the end that would be all.

The trades of budding superstars would continue. Torii Hunter to the Angels, and Johan Santana to the Mets in 2008 are the most recent.

While the Yankees would be buyers, the Twins would be bargain hunters.

Over the years the Yankees would sign big names like Catfish Hunter, Dave Winfield, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia, just to name a few.

Pohlad tried some of the same things that Steinbrenner did.

In 2003 the Twins, in an attempt to generate more revenue, launched their own cable network, Victory Sports One, modeling it after the Yankees successful ‘YES Network.’

Victory Sports One was unable to obtain enough carriage from primary cable television providers in the Twin Cities, or outstate Minnesota, and in 2004 the team re-signed with Fox Sports Net (FSN) North.

The dichotomy that are the Yankees and Twins can be seen in a perusal of the rosters over the past 37 years.

There were 13 Twins who would end up as Yankees, while only six Yankees who would eventually sign with the Twins.

Looking at the active 40 man rosters of the two clubs is also evidence of the different operating styles.

The Yankees’ roster is made up of 52.3 percent of players acquired from other major league teams (11 of 21). While the Twins’ roster has only 28.5 percent (six of 21).

Finally, perhpas the biggest difference between the Twins and Yankees could be in the attempt by Pohlad to contract the team to Major League Baseball in 2002.

Many saw this as a part of a threat to gain a new ball park. A ploy that some feel may have worked with the opening of Target Field this year.    

The thought that Steinbrenner would ever consider contracting the Yankees show how far apart these two franchises really are.

For a life-long Twins’ fan, Steinbrenner represented the “Evil Empire” that was the Yankees. He wasn’t Darth Vadar, but the Emperor himself.

Even so, Major League Baseball lost a legend!

Thank you George Steinbrenner for your contributions to baseball.  





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