Keidel: Hal’s Halcyon Days; Yankees Need Dose Of ‘The Boss’

By Jason Keidel
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Hal needs to get some Hank up in him.

I listened to Hal Steinbrenner’s remarks with two fingers on the snooze button. Between the monotone and the missing bravado, it sounded like Fred Wilpon during a Madoff deposition.

Hal, brother of Hank, son of George, branded himself a “finance geek.” No doubt that siren call just tacked ten thousand fans onto various ticket plans.

Someone needs to slide the Kool-Aid Hal’s way, get him out of the luxury box and in with the Bleacher Creatures. We need some arrogance, some fighting words, some Boss in our leader.

“You want another self-righteous blowhard who was habitually suspended by MLB?”


Particularly if his name is Steinbrenner.

It figures – as soon as I applaud the Yanks for their excess, Hal goes Amish on me. He clearly doesn’t read this column, which is fine, but Hal missed an important message. Yankees fans are proud of their heritage as the rich kids who live in mansions on otherwise urban turf. While all the other schoolboys limp out of a tattered yellow bus, the Yankees fan struts from his limo, gives the driver a pound and a “peace out.” He doesn’t know about dress codes, calls his teachers by their first names, and is willing to pay $5 for a bottle of Yankee Stadium water.

The essence of Hal’s message, which shrinks so quickly in the shadows of George’s rants, is that the Yankees can win without paying their players more than $189 million per year, the luxury tax threshold.

Of course they can. But since when was moderation the ladder leading up to Yankee Universe? Even their monikers are outsized, from the Bronx Bombers to Murderer’s Row. Does that sound like a civil group? If we must watch John Sterling on endless loop, pimping yet another “Yankeeography,” then let’s at least feed him more material.

Everyone is cashing in. Perhaps you went back to your old neighborhood and can’t believe it’s the same place you knew in 1979. All the bodegas, fast food shacks, and bars have been gutted and replaced with shining condos, Whole Foods, and 24-hour pharmacies stuffed with Yuppies who wouldn’t know the real Times Square from Tiananmen Square.

The Yankees know this, hence the ten-buck beer that cost them a quarter. They weren’t moderate when they broke from MSG to start YES, building a template that every team now tries to copy. The Yankees weren’t moderate when they signed Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, or Alex Rodriguez. (They even flew to Japan to sign Godzilla.) They went from spending a quarter-billion on Burnett, Sabathia, and Teixeira to the muted acquisition of Raul Ibanez, an ancient DH who barely dented the petty cash jar.

We pay the $5 for the water so that you can afford to bomb with Kei Igawa and toss A.J. Burnett into the recycle bin. Much of the warmth in that hot stove comes from some free agent marlin flopping around the family yacht. The Steinbrenners, by dint of their dominance and their willingness to spend the spoils, have spawned a generation of spoiled loyalists.

And it’s a fair deal. If we’re going to overpay for the product, make it ornate enough to keep us drooling, wandering through the oasis that assures us that no matter where we are, it’s sunny on River Avenue. It’s an illusion many warped souls (including this one) press against their hearts. We don’t want a mortician up there talking about prudence while charging his customers two grand for courtside seats against the Royals.

Technically, Hal won a title in 2009, so some of you will tell me he’s the perfect man for the job. Maybe I just want him to act like it.

Feel free to email me:

How do you feel about Hal and his tightened purse strings? Be heard in the comments below…

  • Paul D.

    jason, can you tell me why they don’t post my comments on your page?

  • TC

    Wow…if that column doesn’t exemplify the arrogance and sense of privelege that NYY fans have…Granted, they are and have been playing by the rules, but as the rules change and evolve, I would think a true fan would applaud their team for being responsible and smart in regards to their talent and payroll….I am and have been a BRAVES fan since Torre managed them and the 13 division titles IN A ROW! did not happen because of a sense of entitlement but rather because they were smart and developed PITCHING ,as the NYY’s Braves Rays Giants etc are and have been doing as of late..a payroll 35% larger than 80% of the teams in MLB does not add inches to your d@!$ or trophies to your wall…Good for those (NYY included ) teams who have figured this out GO BRAVES!!

  • Kurt Spitzner

    I think maybe he figured that since they did not win everything for a few years that maybe its time to try a little different route,early on that is.We all know,Yankee fan or not,that when push comes to shove Hal will do what he has to do to bring in what they need.Very unlike the way business has been conducted on the other side of town,but surely i digress!

  • Gman47

    I think the luxury tax is a good thing but too extreme. There should be some exceptions or credits for keeping your own players. To think that we might not be able to sign Cano (a home grown player) because of a luxury tax does not make sense. I enjoyed your article,

    Hip Hip Jorge!

  • StevEvil Empire

    Your way off on this one JK. What do you want? You want Hal to be a fake? He is not his father, as I am not my father. Now I could see you calling for more Hankenstien, but Hal is not George. I kind of admire his honesty about the payroll situation.

    Leave the little rich geek alone, and let him crunch his numbers.

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