Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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All in the Family
2008-02-29 07:36
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Jonathan Mahler, author of The Bronx is Burning, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine, has a long profile on the Steinbrenner clan in the latest issue of Play. It is a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the changes that have taken place in the Yankee organization over the past calendar year. Mahler paints Hank and Hal Steinbrenner as we've come to know them--good cop, bad cop. It is interesting that Hank rebelled against his father and yet often sounds a lot like The Boss. Witness this bit at the end of the piece:

"Red Sox Nation?" Hank says. "What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."

I agree with part of Hank Steinbrenner's statement. I think Red Sox Nation is a pompous, self-aggrandizing term (though I'm guilty of using the phrase in this space numerous times over the years), one that has been pumped up by the Red Sox organization, many of their fans, as well as ESPN and other media outlets. But I'm not so sure that you don't see Red Sox hats all over the country these days. The bandwagon is in full-effect (as is a Sox bashlash). What the Red Sox are not--and correct me if I'm wrong--is an international team. You'll probably find more Yankee hats worldwide than that of any other sporting team. That doesn't mean that there are so many actual Yankee fans out there, just that the Yankee hat is a symbol of New York and New York is an international city in a way that Boston is not.

Regardless, the quote from Hank made me think: What's the over/under on how many cringe-worthy statements Hank Dog will make this year? I say it'll be under a dozen, but there will be some doosies in there. Either way, I don't entirely dislike Hank's bluster because it is a reminder of his old man (man, I never thought I'd say that!).

Comments
2008-02-29 09:15:10
1.   rsmith51
I will take the over...
2008-02-29 09:16:04
2.   kylepetterson
My dogs name is Hank and we call her "Hank Dog". Weird.
2008-02-29 09:19:13
3.   pistolpete
It's only 'cringeworthy' if we continue to finish below them in the standings. Otherwise I think he said what a lot of us were thinking anyway.

I think Hank is great for the organization, provided his brother and Cashman are still behind the scenes to reel him in. He's definitely got his father's bluster, although it's probably better he's not the lone executive in charge of running things.

2008-02-29 09:36:19
4.   Cliff Corcoran
I saw more Sox hats than Yanks hats on my honeymoon in Italy in 2006. Of course most of them were probably on Americans. In the stores I saw Yanks, Red Sox, and White Sox (who were the defending champs at the time). I'd say with the Red Sox being the defending champs now, there are probably just as many Bosox hats overseas.
2008-02-29 09:40:09
5.   wsporter
I voted yesterday on the over, Hank hasn't said anything in the interim that has changed my vote. Over, big time.
2008-02-29 09:45:26
6.   Rob Middletown CT
Given how chirpy he's been in the offseason... yeah, gotta take the over.

Sigh.

2008-02-29 09:55:35
7.   Sliced Bread
The only thing that made me cringe in Hank's RSN statment was when he said ESPN is filled with Red Sox fans. Shoulda said infested. But I'm confident he'll make up for that gaffe, and then some.
2008-02-29 10:00:15
8.   Zack
Here in San Diego, its way more Sox hats than Yankees hats, though in L.A. its the other way. I think there are simply a lot of Boston ex-pats here, but also they are "in." It's got nothing to do with actual fandom, as I'm sure 80% of those hats aren't worn by people who actually really follow the sport, but it is what it is. Personally, let the Sox have them. The Yankees could use a few less of those types of fans, and I kind of enjoy hearing Sox fans whine and complain about all the pink hats in Fenway and not being able to get seats...

That being said, the Yankee brand is still, far and away, the dominant international sports logo and team of professional US sports. Period.

2008-02-29 10:08:32
9.   Knuckles
For the most part I agree with your statement that the Sox are not an international team, but there are some exceptions.
One is that Bronx-based Dominicans love their homegrown Manny Ramirez. I think that, coupled with Pedro, probably extends Sox fanship a good deal in the DR.
Two, and this is a weird one...there is no question that much of Europe runs around wearing Yankee hats. I've spent a lot of time in the UK and France, and I'd say more than 50% of US pro sports gear I see over there is the Yanks. Bulls, Raiders, 49rs seem to make up their share as well, but you can't walk 5 blocks in Clapham or Brixton w/o seeing an interlocking 'NY'. However- the people I know who've moved here from abroad (mainly UK, Ireland and Australia) seem to disproportionately root for the Sox. My guess is it's some combination of a) bandwagon jumping post-2004, b) anti-bandwagon backlash against the Yanks popularity at home, and c) the Irish identifying with Boston for some reason.
2008-02-29 10:26:59
10.   bartap74
Juan Gonzalez has had one at-bat in the majors in the past 3 years. Johan Santana just signed an enormous contract and is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball. So what happens when they meet up today in a Spring Training exhibition game?

1st pitch, 3 run HR.

It was so predictable. (;

2008-02-29 10:29:27
11.   Sliced Bread
I don't give a rat's arse which team sells more hats and jackets here on Earth, but if I had Steinbrenner money to squander I might commission a trip to the moon to plant a Yanks flag there. One small step for Hank, one giant step for mankind, and all that...
2008-02-29 10:39:13
12.   Alex Belth
Juan Gone indeed!
2008-02-29 10:42:55
13.   williamnyy23
From my experience, Yankee hats still well outnumber Red Sox hats around the country. More scientifically, the Yankees merchandise still outsells Red Sox. Also, polls still position the Yankees well ahead of Boston. The Red Sox, however, are catching up. Still, the Yankees are still the most iconic American sports team.

Now, if you want a real mismatch, count Yankee and Mets gear on the Subway. The disparity is staggering.

2008-02-29 10:44:07
14.   williamnyy23
Also, I am not sure "You'll probably find more Yankee hats worldwide than that of any other sporting team." Manchester United probably has that distinction, which is probably why the Yankees used to have a marketing deal with the English soccer powerhouse. I am not sure if that deal remains in place.
2008-02-29 10:45:05
15.   williamnyy23
Great...Jeter was HBP in the first inning of the game against South Florida. I thought Tino was supposed to take care of that.
2008-02-29 10:47:32
16.   Shaun P
9 Didn't tommyl say yesterday that he was currently in Europe (Amsterdam IIRC)? What's the man on the spot have to say?

As for RSN, I offer you all this link without any further comment necessary:

http://tinyurl.com/347jxx

On happier notes, Joba seems to have cruised according to PeteAbe's liveblog.

2008-02-29 11:04:42
17.   Sliced Bread
Johan tells SNY he was rushing his delivery but felt good. He wasn't expecting the Cards to be aggressive and swing on the first pitch, but Gonzalez jumped on him.
30 pitches, 22 strikes for Santana.
2008-02-29 11:05:22
18.   ms october
15 the pitcher is probably a red sox fan
2008-02-29 11:08:19
19.   Sliced Bread
Funny thing is the NY papers tomorrow morning will probably make light of Santana coughing up a 3-run job in his Met debut, (as they should) but if he did the same wearing a Yanks uniform he'd be immediately declared a $140 million dollar bust.
2008-02-29 11:11:22
20.   JL25and3
10 Gonzalez cares a whole lot more about it than Santana. Johan's just out there preparing for the season; Gonzalez is fighting for a job.
2008-02-29 11:22:34
21.   Andre
I just returned from Disney World with the kids, and I can say with certainty that Red Sox gear outnumbered Yanks gear at least 5 to 1. That was kind of weird for me. I'm not used to seeing that outside of Mass.

I personally got lots of comments about my Joba Rules shirt (all comments were good, both from Sox fans and Yanks fans)

Got a few comments and more than a few odd stares on the day I wore a Boston (not red sox, just Boston) t-shirt and a Yankees cap.

2008-02-29 11:27:52
22.   Sliced Bread
21 (sing the chorus, kiddies!) "It's a sox world after all, it's a sox world after all.."
Blech.
Thanks for the heads up. Taking my sons to the mouse two weeks from now. Will be sure to represent.
2008-02-29 12:01:31
23.   Rob Middletown CT
Re: Jeter HBP... where? Is he ok? LoHud is blocked from work. Help!
2008-02-29 12:40:27
24.   Rob Middletown CT
Sigh.
2008-02-29 12:42:27
25.   pistolpete
21 IMO it's bandwagon behavior - I was down there in the early 90's and it was all Oakland A's hats & Canseco jerseys. I returned in 2000 & it was a Yankees fan's paradise. Give it a few years and we'll see a brand new set of fairweather fans sporting their 'favorite' team's colors.

As much as it pains Yankees fans, Boston's a hot commodity right now. Although hopefully the New York (football) Giants sparked a downward trend in that market back in January... :)

2008-02-29 12:45:18
26.   Sliced Bread
[23-24] Pete Abraham hasn't said where Jeter was hit, but he stayed in the game. Nothing to worry about apparently.
2008-02-29 12:48:00
27.   Rob Middletown CT
THANK YOU!

I hear that Igawa walked 2, hit a guy, and then gave up a grand salami. Against college kids. I love it.

2008-02-29 13:53:36
28.   pistolpete
27 Holy crap we're never getting rid of him now.
2008-02-29 14:16:42
29.   horace-clarke-era
27 Must be spring training ... people are being VERY funny again.
2008-02-29 14:34:43
30.   Simone
Yeah, Hank. Damn right on ESPN being chock full of Red Sox fans. I'm enjoying Hank spouting off and hopes he keeps at it because it is fun as hell.
2008-03-01 02:18:56
31.   cocorn
How's yankee universe working out for ya?

snicker

2008-03-02 09:12:38
32.   jameson and water
Knuckles (9), I'm from Ireland .... you're right about the number of Yankees hats there and in the UK, but it has exactly nothing to do with baseball. It's the NY logo itself, which has always had a cachet of sorts. When I was a J1 student over in the US for the first time in 1998, everyone wanted one to bring home.

The other thing is that given exchange rates, relative costs of clothes and electronics and the prices of flights (NTM the wealth sloshing around Ireland) weekend and pre-Xmas shopping journeys by Brits and Paddies to New York are extremely common. Boston isn't exactly on the shopping trail.

2008-03-03 19:16:43
33.   Peoples Hernandez
In a wholly unscientific poll I took in London over holiday, 3 out of 3 guys wearing Yankee caps were unable to explain the rules of baseball to me, in any semblance. They're as much into your team as those guys wearing the ugly red, green, and every other color hats with Yankee logos were in 1998.

Hank's a blowhard and makes me remember why the announcement of Big Steinbrenner's banning from baseball was applauded in the Stadium: presently, Yankee fans just feel warm and fuzzy about the Boss because they don't remember the 80s well, and George got to be the figurehead of success in the late 90s due to savvy moves that happened during his suspension, success he deserves credit for as much as Guliani deserved 9/11/01 credit for...whatever he did. Hank has the acumen in impatience and feeding the media dumb mots of his father; luckily, there are people who know what they are doing holding the real power here.

Great article by Mahler, by the way.

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