Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Be Like Mike
2008-02-19 23:22
by Cliff Corcoran

I knew Santino was going to have to go through all this . . . but I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life, I don't apologize, to take care of my family, and I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That's my life, I don't apologize for that, but I always thought that, when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings.

In his introduction to the first major interview conducted with Hal Steinbrenner in roughly 20 years, GQ staff writer Nate Penn positions the younger Hal as the Michael Corleone to older brother Hank's Sonny:

During their first, busy off-season, Hank, 50, emerged as a sort of Sonny Corleone figure, impetuous and impudent, throwing down gauntlets left and right. . . . His outspokenness—on subjects ranging from A-Rod to Joe Torre to a possible trade for ace Johan Santana—led many to assume he was running the team, but behind the scenes the chain of command was a work in progress. "They indicated that now Hank is the baseball person," a baffled Scott Boras tells me during the first, ill-fated round of A-Rod negotiations, "yet they had me talk with Hal." . . . Throughout, Hal, 38, remained, like Michael Corleone, in the shadows—subtle, wary of media, a private family man.

The interview is a must-read throughout. In the key sections, Hal explains his vision for how decisions will be made by the team moving forward:

I'm going to sound like a military-school guy, but I'm a big believer in chain of command. Under George, I think a lot of people felt like George was going to make the decision, no matter what, and they just didn't make many decisions. The direction that we're moving toward is more along the lines of how I think an efficient corporation should run. It doesn't mean I'm right, but that's my take. I don't want to have to be here twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, analyzing every single piece of information that comes across the desk and feeling like I need to make decisions that other people are perfectly capable of making.

We understand this is New York. We understand winning is expected. We want to win. Even if that wasn't the case, we would want to win; that's just the way we are. But I think we're both more introverted and more analytical. We tend to want to take time to come up with a solution to a problem, as opposed to making a seat-of-the-pants–type decision. And I think that showed in some of these off-season signings. Some people didn't understand why we took so long to decide this or to decide that, but we want to get it right. . . . What's been determined is that this is a family business, and if we're both gonna be involved, it has to be an equal thing, and we both need to be involved with all major decisions, whether it's the stadium, big expenditures, or [the unconsummated trade for Johan] Santana, for instance.

That sort of measured, analytical approach which trusts the expertise of the people hired to make decisions rather than second-guesses or haphazardly overrides them is good news for Yankee fans, as is Hal's attitude toward the team's home grown pitchers. Continuing from above:

It's well publicized in New York that [Hanks and I] didn't agree on that deal. My concerns were economical and financial, and I'm not gonna get into those, but I also had baseball concerns. I didn't want to get rid of these kids! Boy, the last time we had three young pitchers like Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy, I couldn't even tell you. [Never -CJC]

The Super Bowl this year was unbelievable, and the one thought I took away really has a lot to do with us this year, with these three young pitchers. Eli struggled a bit his first couple years. I think New York fans might realize now that if you give a young kid time, great things can happen.

Sounds familiar. Elsewhere, Hal confirms the perceived split between his strengths and those of his brother: "My background in grad school [Hal earned an MBA in 1994] led me to do certain things, like finance, that weren't his strong points. Hank always loved the baseball operations and knew the statistics for every player. We each had our strengths."

He also confirmed that his close involvement in the team really only dates back about 12 months, and Hank's even less: "I obviously became considerably more involved at a somewhat dramatic pace when Steve [Swindal], my sister's ex-husband, left [in February of 2007]. A couple months after that, I think Hank realized I could use some help."

As for his father's health, Hal issued a rather defiant "no comment":

GQ: Why is it that the family has chosen not to make a definitive statement on your dad's health?
HS: Because it's a private matter. This is a private corporation. I'm not going to comment about my health, ever. It's the concern of my family and close friends, and as far as I'm concerned, it ends there.

Wouldn't it put an end to the media's intrusions into your family's affairs if you just said, "Look, this is what's going on, now leave us alone?"
I could probably flip a coin on that one. No, I'm not convinced. Family matters are family matters. That's the way I view it, and you bet I'm gonna stick to it. There is no doubt our fans have a right to know what's going on with our baseball operations' decision-making, because without them we would not be in business. Do people have a right to know about anything having to do with family, my personal family, my extended family? No. No. And if that creates controversy, well, so be it. You cannot beat me into submission on that. Nobody can.

. . . He's here every day, and we run things by him all the time. And there's no doubt in the organization of who still is in charge. . . . I think he's listening to our wisdom, our intuition, and going with recommendations we have, but it's not like we're going to make those decisions without him. It's not like we feel we could. He is the general managing partner.

So he's still calling the shots.
Of course he's calling the shots. You don't think I'm crazy enough to make a decision without him, do you?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: "We're absolutely not planning on selling the team."

2008-02-20 05:10:57
1.   Sliced Bread
Hal's pals, that was good stuff:

GQ -Are you willing to concede that Boston, my favorite team, is the superior organization right now?
Hal -No, I will never concede. They've got a lot of talent, and you've done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don't think you guys wanted to play us in the ALCS. So I will concede nothing. I think we're better than you.

Man, to be a fly on the wall during those "Cash v. Stick" as "Billy v. George" debates Hal referred to.

2008-02-20 05:22:22
2.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
Wow..I kept waiting for him to come out with "Don't ever take sides against the family,ever.." Can't see Hank buying a ticket at the tollbooth, but any chance we can send him off to Vegas while Hal takes control?
2008-02-20 05:22:59
3.   Rob Middletown CT
I think I like Hal.
2008-02-20 05:50:15
4.   Murray
If Hank is Santino and Hal is Michael, then Felix Lopez, the new son-in-law, is Fredo. Brian Cashman is Tom Hagan. I haven't cast Clemenza and Tessio yet, but John Sterling is probably Johnny Fontaine.
2008-02-20 05:59:40
5.   Sliced Bread
4 Heh. Farnswacker's the headless horse.
2008-02-20 06:03:06
6.   ny2ca2dc
4 Who is Ray Negron then?

5 wowza, what a zinger!

2008-02-20 06:09:24
7.   Bagel Boy
What's truly amazing and wonderful, at the same time, is that George Steinbrenner seems to have raised two highly capable children well-prepared to lead a multibillion dollar corporation (despite Hank's penchant for talk). Contrast that with the little Jimmy Dolan who can't keep his sandbox clean or the current president would could fuck up the entire country in eight short years. Sure, this assessment of the Steinbrenner boys is tenuous, but after this off-season the future is looking very bright.
2008-02-20 06:14:22
8.   Bagel Boy
On the Hank and Hal dynamic, frankly I love both balancing each other out - reason and emotion analyzing each decision. Reason wins when money's the deciding factor. Seems like a recipe for success to me.
2008-02-20 06:34:25
9.   williamnyy23
4 Clemenza is Billy Conors; Joe Torre is Tessio (although I'm sure some will debate that casting).

Also, Steve Swindall is Carlo and Billy Martin is/was a less loyal Luca Brasi.

2008-02-20 06:36:24
10.   williamnyy23
One criticism of the piece: what does Pettitte's and Knoblauchs post-2001 HGH use have to do with the Yankees of 1999-2000? That was a pretty stupid question.
2008-02-20 06:37:51
11.   3rd gen yankee fan
"I will never concede."

He sounds like my kinda guy.

Woo hoo! (And he's right about the ALCS.)

2008-02-20 07:14:21
12.   Alex Belth
Cashman as Tom Hagan is a really good call.
2008-02-20 07:15:18
13.   OldYanksFan
ARod audio at Lohud Blog.
2008-02-20 07:20:03
14.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
Wow, if Hal's Michael, Theo et al better watch out if there are any baptisms in the Steinbrenner family.
2008-02-20 07:25:37
15.   Sliced Bread
Suzyn is Appolonia?
(duck & cover)
2008-02-20 07:30:02
16.   Chyll Will
6 Andy Garcia?
2008-02-20 07:34:09
17.   Chyll Will
15 Suzyn is definitely Letz...
2008-02-20 07:36:18
18.   Chyll Will
17 Woltz (hiccup!)
2008-02-20 07:43:46
19.   Chyll Will
16 -18 (umm, guys, you're not supposed to let this kinda thing happen >;)
2008-02-20 07:48:35
20.   williamnyy23
Anyone else take part in the last game at YS pre-sale? I was only able to get a single, but feel kind of lucky to have gotten that.
2008-02-20 08:24:39
21.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
20 World Series tix are on sale already?
2008-02-20 08:32:55
22.   williamnyy23
21 Very clever! Last regular season game that is.
2008-02-20 08:46:57
23.   OldYanksFan
Anyone know much about Marquez?
I know he was one of the prospects in the Santana deals.
I read somewhere that someone thought he was 'the next Joba'.
Pretty high praise.
I thought Horne was our most highly prized P after the Big 3, but I am reading good stuff about Marquez.

I also read someone say with Dellin Betances, if he can stablize his mechanics, that 'the sky is the limit'.

So many 'great' pitching prospects never go anywhere. Is the Marquez and Betances talk Yankee-centric, or are these guys really studs, or what?

2008-02-20 09:03:03
24.   ny2ca2dc
23 Marquez is not a stud. Nice prospect, groundballer, but not a stud. "Next Joba" is laughable. You're right about Horne; he's a good prospect, might help in the BP or spot starts as early as this year. Many (most?) would be happy with him as their top or #2 pitching prospect.

Betances, kind of like Brackman (both absurdly tall) is raw and talented and projectable - but huge question marks abound. Brackman with the TJ, Betances due to his youth (teen), both with inconsistency and tough mechanics.

2008-02-20 09:06:36
25.   Alex Belth
Michael Kay is Moe Green.
2008-02-20 09:09:15
26.   JL25and3
Boy, the last time we had three young pitchers like Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy, I couldn't even tell you. [Never -CJC]

My immediate reaction was 1964, and I'm not far off. That year they had pre-injury Jim Bouton (25), Al Downing (23), and Mel Stottlemyre (22), who came up in August and saved their bacon.

The biggest difference was that Bouton and Downing had already put in full seasons in 1963, with Bouton winning 21 games.

2008-02-20 09:13:49
27.   williamnyy23
26 What? Jason Johnson, Wade Taylor and Sam Militello doesn't qualify?
2008-02-20 09:23:36
28.   OldYanksFan
26 Well... If our Big 3 turn out like the guys in 1964, I think we've done pretty well.
2008-02-20 09:30:43
29.   Sliced Bread
25 great!
2008-02-20 09:50:56
30.   williamnyy23
28 Would you really be happy with career ERA+ of 111 (Stottlemyre), 99 (Bouton) and 105 (Downing)?
2008-02-20 10:12:27
31.   Shaun P
27 I thought Kamieniecki was the third of that trio? The funny part was, IIRC, he (Kamieniecki) was the least regarded of the 3, and he was the one who went on to have a big league career!
2008-02-20 10:40:31
32.   JL25and3
27 You mean Jeff Johnson, yes? A classic AAAA pitcher...pitched great in Columbus, got mercilessly pounded in the bigs.
2008-02-20 10:46:38
33.   Chyll Will
31 Add Kenny Clay and Clay Parker and we had a bonanza during the eighties. That's if you don't mind giving up Jose Rijo, Doug Drabek and Bob Tewksbury in their youth (strictly pitching-speaking...)
2008-02-20 11:04:11
34.   williamnyy23
31 Kamieniecki did also debut in 1991 (Militello wasn't until 1992), but Scott was already 27 at the time, so far from a prospect. Of course, as you mentioned, he had by far the best career.

32 Yes, Jeff! Not Jason. He started off with a nice couple of months, but then just imploded. Sam Militello is the real sad story from the era though. He had a very good debut season in 1992, but in retrospect, I guess the Yankees shouldn't have had him throw over 200 IP between AAA and the majors.

2008-02-20 11:06:12
35.   Cliff Corcoran
26 Nice catch . . . I thought about those guys briefly. The difference to me is that the current three are younger and have further reinforcements behind them. Still, the comparison is a good one.

Worth pointing out: Hal was born in 1969, so it's no surprise that he didn't think of those guys.

2008-02-20 11:11:01
36.   Chyll Will
Of course the stillness. Eighties and nineties don't mix.
2008-02-20 12:14:44
37.   JL25and3
35 Thanks for making me feel even older.
2008-02-20 13:00:18
38.   Sliced Bread
37 how old do you think Yogi will feel if at Camp Girardi he finds himself discussing nipple piercings with Joba and Brackman?

Just read Mickey Rivers is at camp, along with Tino, Goose, and Gator. Does Rivers usually show up at camp, or is this a first for him in a while? Cool that Gator's there. No hard feelings, and all that. Mel did the same the spring after he was replaced if I recall correctly.

2008-02-20 14:10:35
39.   Shaun P
34 By one day, I missed seeing Militello's '92 masterful one-hit debut against the Red Sox. Instead, I saw the game the day before, where Clemens pitched against . . . Scott Kamieniecki! He actually out-pitched Clemens until he imploded in the 8th with 2 outs. That was a depressing loss.

What strikes me now about that game was, it was early August, and both teams were below .500 and way out of the race. 1992 was, I think, the last time that happened. It seems almost impossible now to imagine it happening anytime soon.

2008-02-20 15:12:37
40.   OldYanksFan
Banter Poll: Giambi's 2007 numbers:
400 ABs, .270, .390, 490, 28 HRs
2008-02-20 15:18:25
41.   Chyll Will
40 How're the 1B/DH splits?
2008-02-20 16:21:44
42.   OldYanksFan
Please Chyll... you know I'm not that bright. I'm still trying to compute his projected OPS.
2008-02-20 16:22:32
43.   OldYanksFan
2008-02-20 16:43:24
44.   Chyll Will
Is that to the ump in the high chair or are you thinking out loud (?)
2008-02-20 17:09:43
45.   claybeez
Got on right at 10AM and was able to score two seats. I was happily surprised.
2008-02-20 18:14:22
46.   wsporter
I know this is waaaaay off this thread but the Knicks appear to be down 43 to Philly in the 4th. God they blow.

Next time I bitch about the Yankees clunking around near .500 I'll remember what a real embarrassment looks like and shut myself up.

As an aside, it doesn't appear that they match up well against the Sixers.

26 In my innocent little heart I believed in 1964 that we were going tp be good forever and those guys were the living embodiment of that ineluctable fact. Boy did I have a lot to learn!

Unfortunately, one of the few things I learned was the word ineluctable. F'ing James Joyce.

2008-02-20 18:57:56
47.   Chyll Will
46 (sigh) What is this "Knicks" you speak of? A conglomerate of close calls?

American Heritage Dictionary
in·e·luc·ta·ble (?n'?-l?k't?-b?l)
adj. Not to be avoided or escaped; inevitable: "Those war plans rested on a belief in the ineluctable superiority of the offense over the defense" (Jack Beatty).

If jack is a Sixers fan, he's patting himself on the back If not, he should be thankful he hasn't actually crossed the street to Madison Square Garbage lately. The laws of physics are under review there after the recent revocation of the law of averages. I would say it was just a matter of time, but then the writ of habeus corpus just received a ten-game suspension for violating the team's media policy, so...

yeah, still sick, going to bed, bye S8p

2008-02-20 19:14:06
48.   JL25and3
46 What was it, "the ineluctable modality of the visible?"

When I was a kid, someone in my family - a great-uncle, I think - had access to a box at Yankee Stadium, so every year he'd get World Series tickets. My older brother went every year, but I was too young. Finally, one year there was considerable discussion about whether I should go, but I was still pretty young and they figured, OK, next year. Of course, that was 1964.

2008-02-21 06:34:28
49.   wsporter
48 Yeah, that's the one. Stephan Dedalus, what a guy.

As Joyce so eloquently put it: ". . . Hey Murdock, '24' my sweet Irish ass, I got your "24" right here you Ausie dope . . ." Boy could he sling it.

2008-02-21 12:24:59
50.   pistolpete
12 Definitely - he's even got the same hair.

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