In a 1998 interview with The New York Times, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner summed up the outlook that drove him throughout life — especially as leader of professional sports’ most iconic franchise: “I hate to lose,” he said. “Hate, hate, hate to lose.” Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday at the age of 80, reportedly had mellowed a great deal from the raucous years when he spent millions on free-agent ballplayers while impulsively firing and hiring field managers to run his team. He wept on Opening Day in 2009, when the crowd in the Yankees’ new ballpark gave him an ovation, and failing health the past few years mostly confined him to his Florida home. The Yanks won seven World Series championships for “the Boss,” including the ’09 crown, in large part because Steinbrenner embraced the new era of high-dollar free agency, the money-making power of cable television and the impact of brand-name recognition. He was blustery and prone to brag, befitting his Bronx-based baseball team. He was parodied on the television sitcom “Seinfeld,” though it wasn’t that much of a parody. The Yankees — beloved by millions but also the team millions love to hate — almost demanded a larger-than-life personality at the helm, which George Steinbrenner gladly supplied.