Aviv may be on here later with a more in-depth memorial for George Steinbrenner. But I wanted to just add my two cents in now on his death this morning.
George Steinbrenner was, to a Boston fan, our worst nightmare. He was the embodiment of our most bitter rival. Worst of all was that, until recently, we could never beat his Yankees when it mattered most. We cursed his name, his team, his lineage.
But the truth is that we were also a bit jealous. Jealous because for the longest time we never had an owner that loved his team the way George loved his Yankees. We never had an owner who invested in his team the way George invested in his Yankees. And that didn't change until John Henry bought the team. Perhaps it is no small coincidence that he once owned a small piece of the Yankees back in the early 1990s.
And there is another truth; Steinbrenner's relationship with Boston, and ours with him, was more tangled than perhaps both cared to admit. Steinbrenner graduated from Williams College. And every year he donated a substantial amount to The Jimmy Fund, the children's cancer-fighting charity that is as much a part of the Red Sox as Fenway Park. That is just a sliver of the overwhelming generosity Steinbrenner had towards the less-fortunate in our society, and one I wish that had been more public. As with most things, the reality of George Steinbrenner was much more nuanced that the image we liked to hold in our minds.
It has been said that a man (or in this case, a franchise or fanbase) can be judged by the quality of their enemies. And while "enemy" is too strong a word here, our judgment has been favorable. Because in George Steinbrenner, we had a rival whose passion, dedication and generosity went unmatched.
God rest, Mr. Steinbrenner. And go easy on the Big Man upstairs. I think he'd like to keep the beard.