Does Anyone Have $3 Billion That I Can Borrow?
Actions (or the lack thereof) speak louder than words. Hal Steinbrenner can say that he is not interested in selling the New York Yankees, but history may tell us differently. In the 1980s and early 1990s, George Steinbrenner wanted to hand this team over to his son Hal. Hal shadowed the old man, and it soon became clear that the young man did not have the chops, or perhaps the interest, in taking over the team in the future. George then went to Plan B…he planned to hand the team’s operations over to son-in-law Steve Swindal. Swindal then got divorced from Steinbrenner’s daughter, leaving another hole in future Yankee ownership. So, here we are…back with Hal. And it is turning out to be what we might have expected.
Hal has no interest in this team. He says that the team can win with a self imposed salary cap of $189 million. He might be right, but to impose that in a year when your team is so banged up is simply nuts. Although it is not nuts if the plan is to sell this team. Hal has denied wanting to sell the team, but remember that the Dodgers were sold for north of $2 billion. The Yankees could fetch at least $3 billion.
Even if the Yankees endure two seasons of par performance, the Yankee brand is what is worth all of that money. There is no reason to make this a competitive team when the value is in the brand and not the performance. Steinbrenner may be a decent man, but he is not a baseball man. His dad was not a baseball guy either. George did not even understand the simple rules of the game early on, such as not knowing that a run scored when a third out is made on a force play does not count. But George wanted to know this game. He wanted to win. He wanted to build. Hal has been dragged to this post. Most Americans would love to have this problem, but he does not want this team.
If Hal Steinbrenner can watch Reid Brignac, Luis Cruz, and Ben Francisco start for this team and not feel uncomfortable, he is not for this profession. He can fix this by giving General Manager Brian Cashman more liberty to spend in the short term. The frustrations that Cashman has dealt with (most likely because of Hal) has become obvious. Cashman has been angry, not so much about the losses on the field, as the inability to address the losses. Girardi and Cashman are doing yeoman’s work with an owner that is out to lunch.
Give George Steinbrenner credit for one thing. He attended games. He sat there when fans gave him grief for the bad years. He sucked it up because he wanted to own this team. He endured a suspension. He loved owning this team. Hal does not, and that is not good for the Yankee nation. If Hal is going to sell this club, he should do it immediately…that would be the honorable thing to do.