"George will have full control" says Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella, a friend, a former Yankees player and the New York manager from 1986 through '88, "as long as he's breathing."
Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.
Sunshine and heat are not allowed into Steinbrenner's Tampa office, which, behind translucent curtains, overlooks Legends Field, the Yankees' spring training home. The office is kept dark and cool—chilly enough that Steinbrenner wears a dark-blue Yankees windbreaker while seated behind his desk, taking calls by speakerphone. As always—always—he is fastidiously groomed, his gray hair perfectly combed, his gray trousers and white shirt without a wrinkle. He wants nothing out of place.
Several years ago, at the Florida State Fair, he had bent over to pick up some trash when a man stopped him.
"Hey, aren't you George Steinbrenner?"
"If I were George Steinbrenner, would I be picking up trash?"
"Oh. Right. Sorry."
Of course, that's exactly what George Steinbrenner would do.
Another time, three hours after Steinbrenner made his first visit to the office of his current physician in Tampa, a carpenter showed up at the doctor's office with his tools.
"Can I help you?" the receptionist said.