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Mister Softie?
Tom Verducci
May 10, 2004
At 73, George Steinbrenner is saying lots of nice things and acting happier than ever. But nobody's relaxing in Yankeedom. The Boss still has more power than any other owner in sports, and he knows how to use it
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May 10, 2004

Mister Softie?

At 73, George Steinbrenner is saying lots of nice things and acting happier than ever. But nobody's relaxing in Yankeedom. The Boss still has more power than any other owner in sports, and he knows how to use it

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Then third baseman Alex Rodriguez walked by. Steinbrenner playfully pinched his cheek and said, "You're going to be all right, kid."

Owning the Yankees is like owning the Mona Lisa.
—G.M.S., 1981

Steinbrenner's meeting room at Legends Field is down the hall from his office. A long rectangular, gleaming wood table fills the center of the room. This is where he runs many of his organizational meetings. Tucked inside an ornate breakfront is a small white refrigerator with a yellow sign taped to it: FOR GMS ONLY! It is filled with bottled water, soft drinks and iced tea. Steinbrenner does not drink or smoke. His weakness is sweets.

His secretary brings in a basket of his favorite buttered kettle-corn popcorn and a small stack of styrofoam cups, which are to be used for scooping out the popcorn. Steinbrenner doesn't want fingers rooting through the basket.

It's early afternoon, and Steinbrenner bursts into the meeting room through the frosted-glass double doors. The air is immediately charged. He is a portable ionizer and knows it, clad in the white turtle-neck-blue blazer combination that has become his dress uniform. He pours himself a cup of coffee and sits at the head of the table to face a reporter.

"I do my workouts from about six to nine every morning," he says.

Three hours?

"Well, six to eight, anyway," he corrects. "I do some weights, and I ride the bicycle. I've got a bum knee, and I haven't chosen to get it fixed. I never want to repair an old wound with a new part. I don't believe you can do any better than what Mother Nature gave you, if you can suffer with the pain."

Suffering is another virtue to Steinbrenner. You know, Plutarch.

"Every single day of my life I try to do two things that I don't like doing," he says. "[Eating] broccoli is one of them."

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