- - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

George Steinbrenner died seven years ago. But he must be smiling as the Yankees begin to resemble the franchise he owned for nearly four decades.

“The Boss” believed that New York’s best show should play in the Bronx, not on Broadway. He collected star players like kids collected trading cards, eventually putting his stamp on seven World Series championships and 11 pennant winners.

Steinbrenner set the mold for modern sports owners, starting the wave of big-spenders in free agency, turning off peers and baseball fans alike along the way.

However, last season’s squad was different than the traditional versions we’ve grown accustomed to. Affectionately called the “Baby Bombers,” they were led by a core of affable players in their mid-20s, not grizzled mercenaries with All-Star backgrounds.

But thanks to Monday’s acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have shredded the warm-and-fuzzies they engendered while reaching the 2017 ALCS.

Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, has made it fashionable again to use “Evil Empire” in reference to the Yankees. He’ll join the American League MVP runner-up, Aaron Judge, to give New York a pair of sluggers who combined for 111 homers last season.

That’s only 17 fewer than the San Francisco Giants hit as a team.

Judge is 25. Catcher Gary Sanchez, who regularly bats third, turned 25 this month. The rotation is anchored by 23-year-old Luis Severino. The Yankees presumably were rebuilding last year, but they messed around and won 91 games with the kids.

Now, with a fertile farm system and perhaps more big names on the way (Manny Machado?), the club can resume living up to its name, a perfect fit.

When you think of “Yankees” and “Americans” as synonyms, like much of the world does, you understand why the team stirs such passion at both ends of the spectrum.

It’s why so many people adore them and so many people abhor them.

Fans look at the Yankees and see a picture of America, or at least an image of the country’s romanticized ideals.

No other franchise is as strong and proud, as rich historically as it is financially. The tradition of success is staggering; the track record of dominance is mind numbing. Baseball’s original superpower, it remains a force to this day, just like in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

The Yankees have won 40 pennants and 27 World Series; no other franchise has won more than 23 and 11, respectively. Their trophy case includes a five-peat, a four-peat and multiple three-peats.

On top of that, their bank account seems bottomless. With an international brand and a luxurious ballpark in the nation’s No. 1 media market, their income dwarfs the relative paupers elsewhere in baseball.

The Yankees make the most, sell the most and spend the most. Other clubs would swear the Yankees print their own money, considering the team’s payroll, broadcast revenue, merchandise sales and marketing deals.

If that’s not the American dream, it’s nonexistent. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?

The Yankees are so American.

It’s why so many people adore them and so many people abhor them.

Opposing fans see an organization that resembles a big, bad bully. They see an arrogant brute who has whipped every kid in the neighborhood. They see a well-to-do snot who enjoys flaunting his blue-blood ancestry while flapping a wad of cash under your nose.

They say fun shouldn’t be limited to the rich and powerful. Every club should have a shot at a day in the sun. They say it’s not fair that the Yankees dictate to the industry, using their exorbitant finances to essentially set policy throughout the majors.

Americans are supposed to love pulling for the little guy who fights the establishment. Who doesn’t want to root for an underdog?

Stanton left such an organization, the Miami Marlins, because watching the playoffs every year isn’t fun. He’d much rather be a participant and no club offers a better opportunity than the Yankees, historically or presently.

“They’re winners,” he told reporters at his introductory news conference. “They’re young and they’re in a good position to win for a long time. I lost for a long time. So I want to change that dynamic and be a winner.”

This franchise is accustomed to having its way. That was true before general manager Brian Cashman arrived 20 years ago. It has been the case during his tenure and will remain a fact after his departure. It’s simply how they operate.

So many people adore it. So many people abhor it.

That’s America for you.

That’s the Yankees.

Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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