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Steinbrenner Changed Game with Cash - and Vengeance

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If there was a day George Steinbrenner would have pick to pass away on, it likely would have been the day of the All-Star game.

The longtime owner of the New York Yankees died this morning, but left a larger-than-life impact on the game of baseball.

"Whether you were a fan or you really couldn't stand George Steinbrenner, he left an indelible mark on the game," said CBS's Bob Orr, who joined Tuesday's Washington Unplugged to discuss the legacy of man known as The Boss. "I mean this guy, for better or for worse, changed baseball - with his checkbook primarily."

It was his checkbook that got him started, and it led him to the top. Steinbrenner and a group of investors bought the Yankees for a mere $8.8 million (the franchise is now worth well over $1 billion), and began signing big-name ballplayers.

"He took advantage of a change in baseball rules and laws that allowed him to spend money on free agents," Orr said. "And he did it with a vengeance."

That vengeance helped the "Bronx Bombers" to seven titles while he was at the helm. Last year's world championship brought the storied team's total to 27.

Steinbrenner was known as a competitive, in-your-face type of person, who once famously said: "Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing."

His attitude led him to the top, but also made him a controversial character.

"Everything about Steinbrenner was big; big and over the top and boisterous and rambunctious," Orr said. "Here's a guy who was not universally loved, some of the owners really didn't like him at all."

Steinbrenner was suspended twice, once for making illegal contributions to former President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign, and again for paying a small-time gambler $40,000 to dig up dirt on player Dave Winfield.

Despite the controversy, Steinbrenner's impact on baseball is undeniable, and the loss is likely to reverberate throughout the sport.

"It will be very interesting to see how baseball marks the passing, because this really, truly is the end of quite an era," Orr said. "I mean, he's the longest serving owner in Yankees history, which really goes back quite awhile."

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2:00 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.