The Sadness of King George


I’ve been paying much attention to today’s coverage of George Steinbrenner’s death. It’s a fascinating thing, how the media responds to someone’s passing. When I was a young writer at The Tennessean, I wrote an obituary for Mooney Lynn, Loretta Lynn’s husband … weeks before he actually ceased breathing. Along those lines, I can assure you the New York Times, the Daily News, the Post, the AP all had Steinbrenner tributes penned up and ready to go. It’s how the industry works.

Earlier today I received an e-mail from an editor friend at CNN’s website, wondering if I had any people who’d be good for Steinbrenner memories. I passed along a handful of numbers—Cliff Johnson, Brian Fisher, Fay Vincent, Marty Appel. The same exact thing was happening all over America; news agencies scratching and clawing for something on Steinbrenner that nobody else found.

But here’s the thing: In all the whirl and swirl of post-death coverage, how many of us actually stop and think of the actuality at hand? That George Steinbrenner no longer exists. Very literally, he is no longer a human being. No longer breathes. No longer thinks. No longer eats, showers, walks, smells, shouts, cries. He is nothing. Nothingness. Gone. Vapor. I’m not writing this to be crass. Just the opposite, actually. His passing—anyone’s passing, this side of serial killers or leaders of genocide—is a tragedy, because it marks the termination of life. We see the video highlights, hear memories from men like Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra and fail to stop to think that, oh my God, George M. Steinbrenner is no longer. He seems alive, because the images never stop. But he isn’t, and never will be again.

Love the man, hate the man, that’s a genuine tragedy.

15 thoughts on “The Sadness of King George”

  1. Evocative thoughts, man. Writing something now because of how this moved me. It might go up on the website soon. Probly tomorrow. I’m too tired to trust myself to publish something good right now.

    But thanks.

  2. As expected as I suppose it should have been its just a shock. I’ve been a Yankee fan since 1989 when I was 7, George has been a constant (save for that shtickel of time in the early 90’s). Obviously his presence has diminished in the organization over the years leading to the appologetic free spending of his son Hal and Brian Cashman that seems like a direct contrast to the free wheeling, screw you spending of George’s heyday that was obnoxious but also more pure. If that makes any sense. Either way, he will be missed by Yankee fans and really anyone who has even a casual affection for the game. Now the question is does he belong in the hall? I can’t decide.

  3. One last point, as a Yankee fan the teams excesses make me blanch but I preferred George’s style to the Cashman approach that somehow tries to paint a 200 million dollar payroll as fiscally responsible but regards a 205 million dollar payroll as obscene.

  4. Understand what you were trying to say, but according to reports he was suffering from Alzheimers. Anyone who has watched a loved one die slowly realizes that sometimes death is a blessing and not a tragedy. Jeff, you seem to suffer from an acute fear of death. Understandable for anyone, but death comes to us all, and one can truly come to a peace with it. Death ISN’T always a tragedy…it’s just part of life.

  5. Mood is right, we all die.
    That’s life.
    Those of faith believe life doesn’t need to end.
    As big as George was 3 years from now nobody except those that are close to him will even think about him.
    Thirty years from now and he will be entirely forgotten.
    If you don’t have faith you won’t have life.
    If you do have faith you just might.

  6. jmw-I don’t have religous faith.. I believe an atheist can come to terms with the end on it’s own terms. From an atheistic standpoint, from someone who nursed a loved one till the end, the end doesn’t have to be frightening. What I tried to say to Jeff-“Death isn’t a tragedy. It just is”

  7. Mood-I understood you were not making a religious point.
    Death is part of life.

    An Atheist lives without hope.
    Those of faith live with hope.
    Neither needs to fear, but those without faith maybe should.
    Jeff fears.

    1. Maybe, jmw, but perhaps those of faith are like rabbits or deer or dogs. content and secure in their naivete. i’m not saying definitely—just suggesting. and maybe that fear drives me, and others. the belief that death is an ending screams, “Live!”

  8. Jeff I understand that.
    Look at it like the lottery, if you don’t play you don’t win.
    If you play you also probably won’t win, but you might.
    Nobody wins that doesn’t play.
    Religious faith is very much like that, you may be Muslim, Jew, Tao, Christian, Hindu, whatever. You take your chance and believe you are on the path to eternity. Probably only one is right, but if you totally reject God you have no hope.
    If you are wrong – You’re Screwed.

    1. jmw, but even that seems incredibly arrogant to presume. for all you know, religion is a test, and those who have the strength to say no to it enjoy eternal salvation. or maybe it’s people who eat hamburgers. or people who are bald. or people named Jeff. I don’t know—but neither do you. And, again, if the motivation is eternal salvation, it’s an insincere reason to believe, no?

  9. I gotta say, it’s weird seeing all this love and praise for the Boss. From afar, he’s been great for the Yankees. He kept it real, he wanted to win by any means necessary, and he spent as much money as he got back into the team and the experience. However, Yankee fans have to chunk out parts of their savings to make it to a good view of the game. And the Boss was best when he let go of some of the operations to his brain trust. Oh, and there was that Winfield incident, but that’s a coffee stain on an otherwise off-white colored shirt. I think.

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