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Big Stein: A fan's dream

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

If later this week news came out that George Steinbrenner had thawed Ted Williams out at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, stitched his head back on his body, magically made him 50 years younger and taught him how to field grounders, all so he could sign him to play second base, I might believe it.

What, you want to bet the Yankees owner can't make miracles happen right now?

The latest lightning bolt struck late Monday, when WABC in New York reported that Greg Maddux will sign with the Yankees later this week.

Greg Maddux? If this report is accurate, then heaven help the American League. The Yankees just picked up Greg freakin' Maddux hours after Bud Selig approved the Alex Rodriguez deal.

Now, if the Rodriguez deal sent small market teams into a hissy fit and New Englanders to their therapists, then imagine what the Maddux signing will do.

A-Rod was rough enough for Boston fans to deal with, but at least they could point out that the Yankees had a weak pitching staff.

Well, so much for that. New York may be adding a four-time Cy Young award winner with 289 career victories. He went 16-11 last year with a 3.96 ERA. Considering the Yankees are expected to score 1,000 runs this year – 6.17 per game – Maddux may have a shot at going 27-0.

That's a joke. We think.

Making this even better or more maddening, depending on your perspective, is that the Yankees weren't even on the radar for Maddux as of Monday. GM Brian Cashman said they had no interest in the right-hander and hot stove talk had the bidding war for his service down to the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals.

Of course, no one thought Rodriguez was coming to the Bronx until after it was done either.

You can claim, and many will, that this is terrible for baseball, one team gobbling up all the talent and set to enter the season with almost a $200 million payroll. You can call the Yankees the Evil Empire; take all the shots at Steinbrenner you want.

But if you are a sports fan, could you ever ask for a better owner than The Boss?

Sure, maybe he has a personality that only Scott Boras could like but all the guy cares about is winning.

Nothing more, nothing less. And he ain't saying sorry for it either.

When his team couldn't hit its way past the Marlins last October, he went out and got Gary Sheffield and Rodriguez. When everyone hooted that he had no pitchers, he apparently just dive-bombed in and landed Maddux.

A couple months ago, when the Red Sox were living large, I thought the balance of power in this great rivalry was, after 86 years, about to swing north because Boston had a young genius in Theo Epstein running the front office. The Yankees would always have the money advantage, but Epstein seemed the perfect foil – a savvy, gutsy GM who would outsmart and outwork New York.

How naive I was.

Yes, Epstein will build a contender each year and the loaded Sox should concede nothing to New York this season or any season, but all Theo's moves really did was awaken a bear that wasn't exactly asleep in the Bronx.

Since then Steinbrenner has simply dominated.

Now, you can cry about baseball's rules allowing this, but all the Yankees are doing is exploiting the situation. And face it, you can take your little-town blues and deal with it because nothing is going to change.

And maybe it shouldn't.

There is no question that the Yankees, being the dominant team in the nation's biggest market, have a huge advantage over everyone else. But you must acknowledge the great product that Steinbrenner has cultivated.

He hasn't taken the cheap route like the Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs, a franchise that if well run could be nearly as big as the Yankees. He hasn't periodically stumbled and bumbled like the Mets and Dodgers.

The Yankees will always be big, but Steinbrenner deserves credit for making them this big. Rather than sit on a fat profit margin, he's spent money to give New York a franchise that perfectly represents it – big, brash and unapologetic.

"To make money, you have to spend money," Yankees president Randy Levine said Monday.

The Yankees do a lot of both. Not to mention win championships.

Which is what having the best owner in sports will get you.

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