2 May 1997: New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watches pensively at the 123rd Kentucky Derky at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died today at the age of 80. To Yankees fans, the man was The Boss, the blustery owner willing to spend the cash necessary to lift the team to its rightful place at the top of baseball's pecking order. To non-Yankees fans, or more accurately Yankees-haters, he was everything wrong with the game; willing to overspend on almost any player of decent quality, Steinbrenner fully utilized the "unfair" advantage New York had over everyone else.

My conflicted biased feelings about Steinbrenner aside, the man was good for baseball, if only because he provided talking points and controversy throughout his reign as owner. He forced baseball to the front page more than any owner in the league. Admittedly, much of the good he did came in spite of his actions, which were often well short of savory; nevertheless, sports needs villains, and Steinbrenner was always a candidate for baseball's biggest villain.

It would thrill me to no end to have a Steinbrenner-type owner in Major League Soccer. Though the salary cap rules prevent any one deep-pocketed owner from going nuts with salaries in an effort to win championships, there is certainly room enough to make a splash. And no, Red Bull doesn't count despite the money they're spending; a faceless corporation can never achieve singular focus of revulsion like Big Stein did during his 37 year reign. One guy, pulling all the strings, writing all the checks, and not caring a lick what anyone else thought.

Generally speaking, MLS owners are collections of rich people. There are few teams with one person who can be pointed to as "the owner." Even clubs with identifiable front men (Chivas USA, RSL, New England, DC) have layers of separation between those names and the true operation of the team, or they are simply the heaviest hitter in a group of invested parties. There's no candidate for Steinbrenner status.

How fun would it be to have a cavalier owner desperate to win titles slinging cash all over Europe and South America (withing the confines of the rules, of course) and butting heads with the league office on salary restrictions? An owner who goes through coaches like tissues, who makes himself, rather than any of the players, the biggest story going?

Maybe soccer needs to grow up a bit here before we can hope for such a thing. I suppose I can wait. Or maybe Joey Saputo will fill the void. A lot of people would hate an MLS Steinbrenner. That's exactly the point.

Rest in peace, George. I have no idea how you felt about soccer (though the new Tampa Bay Rowdies do play at Steinbrenner Field), but I'm hoping someone out there who cares about the game, and possesses the necessary funds, wants to be the George Steinbrenner of soccer.

Oh, and thanks for knocking the MLS All-Star First XI announcement off of ESPNews.
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