I love a good dynasty. There’s something romantic about a long, extended, lingering stay at the top. A dynasty represents the voice of a certain time and place. Similarly, a time and place can be easily cited in the annals of history vis-à-vis a particular dynasty. Let’s take a look back through time to put some emphasis behind this point. The Zhou dynasty, led by the ruling Zhou family of China, endured from approximately 1046 BC to 256 BC. That’s nearly an 800-year reign. This group of nomads drew upon their borderless existence and interacted with commoners. The ensuing society became refined and disciplined over time, and in 1040 BC, the Zhou conquered the neighboring Shang kingdom to kick off their eight-century sovereignty. Confucianism, Taoism, and legalism would be the remnants of the Zhou.

Dynasties are not just history-book fodder, though, for almost every walk of life has one. Some of you are on your way to Las Vegas right now to try your hand in the poker room. And some of you rounders undoubtedly watched the World Series of Poker to hone your skills. Once you step into the glitzy card rooms in Vegas, you’re walking into the Full Tilt Poker team’s dynasty territory. Led by poker great Howard Lederer, Full Tilt has won 34 WSOP championships.

In music, no one can dispute that Stevie Wonder represented a dynasty of Grammys. In the 1970s, he won album of the year for three consecutive releases. So cemented in Grammy lore was Wonder that when Paul Simon accepted the Grammy for album of the year in 1976, he thanked Wonder for not releasing any competing songs.

There are lesser-known dynasties that exist on the local level. The Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the University of Missouri was the number one fraternity house for grades and sports for decades. From 1959 until 1999 (when the university stopped requiring Greek houses to submit their grades), it won every year, with only six second-place exceptions. It also was the intramural king from 1974 until 2001, with 24 athletic championships, thereby proving the “sound of mind and body” adage so important to the Greeks of antiquity.

Of course, the most well-known and readily recited dynasties reside in the world of sports. There were the 1992–1995 Dallas Cowboys, the 1979–1982 New York Islanders, the 1979–1989 L.A. Lakers, the 1974–1979 Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1991–1998 Chicago Bulls, and the granddaddy of them all, the 1957–1969 Boston Celtics.

Also in the mix were the 1947–1962 New York Yankees and their powerhouse contemporaries in the 1990s. It is this dynasty that is of particular importance to this issue of American Way. Indeed, history accurately records the deeds of the men and women who lead such dynasties, but rarely will you read about an heir-in-waiting who voluntarily relinquishes his claim to the throne. That’s what makes our story “Escape from New York” so fascinating. Joe Molloy went from being George Steinbrenner’s go-to guy to being just a guy in a gym teacher’s uniform. Along the way, he discovered that being just a guy is sometimes better than being “the man.”

The Yanks break in their new home this coming baseball season. For their sake, Steinbrenner better have a new dynasty maker in the front office.

The eyes of history are upon you.

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Adam Pitluk