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: Keidel.firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you feel about Hal and his tightened purse strings? Be heard in the comments below…