I disagree with those who say that Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner was to blame for the (seemingly) out of control baseball salaries today. Baseball players are entertainers and unlike many actors or these reality 'celebrities', they have to work a hell of a lot harder than everyone else. Why is it okay for Rock Stars and Actors to make millions on a single film, but it's too much money for a ballplayer to receive? A professional ball player has to possess a hell of a lot more talent to throw 90+ MPH, hit a 90+ MPH fastball or a hellacious breaking pitch, to run swiftly on the base paths and field their position with grace, and most of all to play a STAGGERING 162 game schedule when they are largely away from their families and missing their own childrens little league games.
God Bless Curt Flood for having the courage to fight for free agency and to George Steinbrenner for finally giving ball players their due. I just wish that the more recent generation of ball players were more appreciative of the sacrifice that the players from our parents and grand parents generations had made. And I'm not talking about verbal appreciation; I'm talking about financial assistance to help those who weren't fortunate enough to play in the post-free agency era.
I don't think we should be judging salaries today as being too high, when compared to a time when the players were clearly being cheated by the Owners who were monopolizing the game and profits. Some salaries might be too high because teams or GM's like everyone else in life, can make mistakes in evaluating talent (see Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo on the Mets ; Kei Igawa on the Yankees).
As for George Steinbrenner, I didn't care for him much when he was firing managers (especially Billy Martin) and making jokes about it. I didn't like the fact that he wouldn't show any patience in building up the Yankee farm system. However, as you get older and you realize that most baseball fans haven't enjoyed the great success that the Yankee fans have experienced, you appreciate the DESIRE and PASSION that George Steinbrenner had for WINNING. Competition is all about wanting to win. What good would it be if your Owner didn't care about winning? You'd have the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates over the past two decades. I think it's a disgrace that certain teams are POCKETING THE LUXURY TAX MONEY and NOT putting it back into their franchises (see Florida, despite their two World Series wins). George Steinbrenner put his money where his mouth was. And yes, oddly enough it took some humbling of George (Howie Spiro incident with Dave Winfield) to give Gene 'Stick' Michael ample time to build the Yankee Championship core; but when you combined Michael's farm system and trade acquisitions with George's free agent money and desire to win, it created a new Baseball Dynasty in the Yankees storied history. This Michael core of Mariano Rivera , Derek Jeter , Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada , are still contributing today defending their 2009 World Series Title.
If you want a fan base that would really appreciate George Steinbrenner, just talk to any Chicago Cubs fan. They would understand. The Mets fans understand these past few years, more than they'd care to admit.
George Steinbrenner was often loud and sometimes abrassive, but like him or not, George demanded from his NY Yankee teams the same thing all fans want from their own; Championships. As a very fortunate NY Yankee fan, all I can say today is 'Thank you George Steinbrenner'.