Not a peep out of Hank

Joba and the Yankees' playoff choices
Drafting Derek Jeter

On June 11, after the Yankees had dropped their eight straight game to the Red Sox, there was no outburst from ownership. On June 23, after the Yankees had lost five of six, including the final two games of the Nationals series, Joe Girardi‘s job was not publicly threatened. The Red Sox had rolled since beating the Yankees, widening their division lead to five games. Still, all they got was a visit from Brian Cashman. There was no statement to the newspapers, no subtle threat that if things didn’t turn around, heads would roll.

Such are the days post George Steinbrenner. As recently as a few years ago, The Boss was still working his old angle. He hadn’t fired a manager on an impulse in over a decade, but it seemed he was ready to let Joe Torre have it. In 2005, when the team got off to a slow star, Steinbrenner mused, “It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk. They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around.”

The Yankees turned it around that year, but found themselves in a similar spot in 2007. After an April sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, the Boss again threatened Torre’s job. They made a turnaround in the second half, though, and convincingly took a playoff spot, only to find themselves down 2-0 to the Indians. Said Steinbrenner: “His job is on the line. I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.” The Yankees did not win the series, and although they made a PR effort to bring back Torre, it did not appear to be a sincere one.

As the 2007 season turned over, it appeared as though there would be a successor to Big Stein: his eldest son, Hank. It was a natural fit. Right away he displayed the temperament of his father, constantly issuing public statements that sometimes made us laugh, sometimes made us cringe. He certainly looked the part, but he clearly wasn’t a natural at it like his father. But it appeared we did have our succeeding Steinbrener.

Over that winter, Hank personally negotiated a new deal for Alex Rodriguez, after the superstar opted out of his contract. Brian Cashman had said multiple times that the team would not negotiate with the superstar if he exercised the opt-out clause in his contract. Yet once A-Rod came begging back to the team, Hank was receptive.

Then came the Johan Santana situation. The Yanks were going to be major players in the sweepstakes, and the Twins knew what they were dealing with. They insisted on the inclusion of Phil Hughes in the package, and Hank took the bait. He said that they’d add Hughes, but that there was an expiration date on the offer. What that was supposed to accomplish, none of us knew. It blew over, though, and by that time Brian Cashman and Hank’s younger brother Hal had wrested enough power to decline a deal for Santana.

Since then, Hank has been mostly silent. Jim Baumbach of Newsday tackles the subject in a recent article. He has quotes from multiple Yankees executives claiming that Hank is “intimately involved” with the team’s doings, but there’s never any concrete roles mentioned. In fact, Baumbach said he had trouble tracking down Hank at his office, and noted that his employees “described him as not quite a 9-to-5-er.”

Most surprisingly, Hankenstein has changed his phone number. That must have irked a reporter or two, who could just hit up his speed dial for an easy quote. According to Baumbach, Stein “was sick of seeing his words get twisted in the papers and then see himself get ripped for it.” He can view it that way, but it doesn’t seem his words were twisted much. It seems to me that they were just misguided words in the first place.

At his height, maybe George Steinbrenner would have fired Joe Girardi after the Yankees eight straight loss to the Red Sox. Maybe if Hank and not Hal had been named general partner, the same would have happened. The Yankees made the right choices along the way, and they’re reaping the benefits now. This is to say that I don’t think anyone really misses the outbursts of Hank Steinbrenner.

Joba and the Yankees' playoff choices
Drafting Derek Jeter
  • Benjamin Kabak

    That Baumbach article is hilarious. Even Howard Rubenstein has no idea what Hank’s role is with the team right now.

    • The Three Amigos

      I like that Hal is letting cashman do his thing and only chiming in on the big things.

  • yankeegirl49

    I definitely do not miss the (mostly moronic) ramblings of Hank, but as someone who grew up watching the teams of the 70’s, I miss George’s missives, his outbursts and just his general presence around the team. The “haters” can say what they will about George, but any fan of any team would love to have an owner as dedicated to winning as George is.

    • andrew

      But, it appears the Yankees still have owners very dedicated to winning, and for the last couple months, owners who don’t cause controversy in the media. I’d prefer that.

  • Makavelli

    What was the daughter’s fiance’ like? As an apparent successor at the time with King George’s wishes…I’m guessing he was a lot like George (+ some adultery)?

    Do you believe things would be significantly different had he taken over the team as was originally speculated?

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “According to Baumbach, Stein ‘was sick of seeing his words get twisted in the papers and then see himself get ripped for it.’ He can view it that way, but it doesn’t seem his words were twisted much. It seems to me that they were just misguided words in the first place.”

    Come on, we’re all thinking it… Hank Stein = Axlvelli?

    • Makavelli

      I did change my “number”…


      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


        • Makavelli

          “Let’s see what I got today. Ham and cheese again. And she forgot the fancy mustard. I love that fancy mustard. You could put that fancy mustard on a shoe and it would taste pretty good to me.”

          • Sweet Lou

            How could you trade Jay Buhner!?! He’s got a rocket for an arm! You don’t know what the hell your doing!!!

  • Ed

    He said that they’d add Hughes, but that there was an expiration date on the offer. What that was supposed to accomplish, none of us knew.

    That one’s easy to answer. They didn’t want to get into a long drawn out bidding war. They offered their best chips and said make up your mind quick or we’re moving on. The Twins thought the Yankees were bluffing, but obviously not considering the haul the Twins ended up with.

    It’s a little weird that the Yankees took that hard a stance asit seems that the two ideas they were considering were “Trade for Johan” or “Do nothing”, but, if they were ever considering a third option, the stance made a lot of sense.

    Maybe it came down to Santana or Pettitte but not both? If that’s the case, it makes a lot of sense. Just going off memory though, didn’t verify the dates everything went down, so maybe I’m wrong.

    • jsbrendog

      it was trade for johan or pay the same to cc in a year and not give up any procpects

      that qorked out peachy

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        This is ancillary, and I didn’t want the Yanks to make the rumored Santana deal(s) and I’m happy they didn’t… But this whole “it was either Santana for money and prospects or CC for just money and no prospects” thing that’s so popular around these parts is a pretty decent example of the fallacy of predetermined outcomes.

        • Tom Zig

          Those were the days when the IPK + Melky meme was in its infancy

        • Nady Nation

          “But this whole “it was either Santana for money and prospects or CC for just money and no prospects” thing that’s so popular around these parts is a pretty decent example of the fallacy of predetermined outcomes.”


          (kidding – I agree with you)

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Ha, I was waiting for that one.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Is it, though?

          The fallacy of the predetermined outcome states that since Event Y happened, had Event X happened before Event Y, the benefits of Event X PLUS Event Y would have resulted in Event Z.

          That Event Y was going to happen regardless of whether Event X happened or not, so the relevant actors should have acted in Event X in anticipation of the eventuality of Event Y.

          It’s a fallacy because A) Event Y is not destined to happen, and B) the probability of Event Y happening is influenced by whether or not Event X happens.

          It’s a fallacy in the course of a baseball game, because there’s no way to assume that Hughes gives up a homer in the 8th so that doesn’t mean that the decision to not use him in the 7th was correct. That’s a fallacy of the predetermined outcome.

          I don’t think the Santana/Sabathia gambit was necessarily such a fallacy, because in this case, the Yankees actions in Event X (the Santana negotiations) were influenced by the likelihood that Event Y would happen (the Sabathia signing), but there are two distinctions:

          1) There is a greater and more accurate way of predicting the probability of Event Y happening. Hughes giving up a homer is random chance. Sabathia hitting free agency is not predetermined, but it’s highly probable.
          2) The calculus used in Event X does not presuppose the definite subsequent happening of a specific Event Y, but rather presupposes the likelihood of numerous potential Event Y’s in the future, i.e. “We’re not trading for Santana because we can sign Sabathia in the offseason” but rather “We’re not trading for Santana because Sabathia, or a similar quality pitcher will be available soon, like maybe Burnett, or Halladay and Lee the year after”. It presupposes a subsequent event, but not a specific Event Y.

          Moreover, part of the calculus in not making the Santana trade was that not making the trade actually increased the likelihood that Sabathia made it to free agency, since one of the teams potentially interested in acquiring Sabathia would have taken themselves off the market by acquiring Santana.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            I’m sorry… I don’t have the patience right now to go through your whole comment point by point. I’ll just give a short statement explaining why I think I’m right here.

            jsb: It was either Santana (for money and prospects) OR Sabathia (for just money).

            There is no way to know that had the Yankees traded for Santana that they then wouldn’t have signed Sabathia, or that there was an either/or choice between the two hypothetical transactions. Any number of things could have happened in the intervening year – they could have acquired someone else, Sabathia could have signed elsewhere, they could have signed Sabathia in addition to trading for Santana, Raul Mondesi could have come out of retirement flashing 105 MPH heat and calling himself “Steve Nebraska,” Sabathia’s arm could have fallen off the mound in Cleveland (or Milwaukee), leaving thousands of fans vomiting in their popcorn tubs… ANYTHING could have happened.

            So, no, it wasn’t a choice of A) trade for Santana now or B) sign Sabathia after the following season. I think that’s the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. If not, it’s some sort of other logical fallacy. No?

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Okay, I gotcha now.

              It’s not the fallacy of the predetermined outcome, it’s the fallacy of the excluded middle, a/k/a false dichotomy.

              There are other potential outcomes besides the two stated outcomes.

              • J.R.

                What they really did was take a calculated gamble. By not trading prospects and a contract extension they gambled that they could sign CC for money alone while waiting a year.

                • rbizzler

                  Bingo on the calculated gamble, and Cash said as much during the CC negotiations. They didn’t got all-in for Santana because they wanted to make a huge push for CC the next off season while keeping the young arms.

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Apologies to anyone not named Mondesi or TSJC who is, no doubt, not at all interested in this conversation…

                So this isn’t the fallacy of the predetermined outcome? Can you point me towards something online that might explain this concept? I did a google search but came up pretty empty-handed.

                I thought this particular concept was that you can’t look back and say that if some intervening event was different that the outcome would necessarily be different… Like, X happens, then 1, 2 and 3 happen, then Y happens… So you can’t say that if X didn’t happen, or if 1, 2 and 3 didn’t happen, then Y wouldn’t have happened, or that Y wouldn’t have happened if not for X, 1, 2 and 3. Right? I thought that doing those things triggered the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. So, in this example, we know that the Yankees signed Sabathia, but we can’t look back and say ‘well if they had traded for Santana then they wouldn’t have signed Sabathia,’ because a lot of other stuff happened and to say that would be a fallacy of the predetermined outcome.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Okay, I see where you are coming from.

                  Here’s what we’re saying differently:

                  You’re saying that Yankee fans who say we shouldn’t have traded for Santana because we wouldn’t have signed Sabathia are guilty of the fallacy of the predetermined outcome, and you’re right in that statement.

                  I guess I’m just hesitant to assign the fallacy of the predetermined outcome to the Santana/Sabathia gambit conversation because another set of Yankee fans accused the team of being guilty of the fallacy of the predetermined outcome in advance, of saying (back in 2007) that we should trade for Santana now because we won’t know if Sabathia is going to be available then and we’ll be left empty handed. Those pro-Santana trade people were going into the future and using a fallacy of a potential future predetermined outcome to argue against the present Yankee strategy, which is an interesting vortex of logical fallacies inside logical fallacies.

                  My aversion to your correct labeling in this instance is probably residue from that old conversation, which means I was responding not to your comment but to the penumbra of your comment. So, I withdraw. You are correct; point to Mr. Mondesi. I yield the floor.

                  (P.S. You’re still fat.)

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Ok cool. All the X’s and Y’s were making me dizzy, anyway. Calzone time.

                  PS: While I was not in the same camp as those fans you mentioned (I didn’t want the Yanks to make the Santana deal at the time), and while they were annoying as f*ck back then, that particular statement of theirs wasn’t really so wrong. They were right in the sense that the sure thing, at the time, was to grab Santana, because nobody knew that Sabathia would be available or, even if he became available, that he would sign with the Yankees, or that he’d even be healthy and effective by the time he became available… Whatever, point being, they were kinda right, the Yankees took a risk. It just happens to be a risk many of us were happy they took at the time and now we’re all happy they took. I don’t even know that they were falling prey to the fallacy of the predetermined outcome (other than those who were just sure in the offseason between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, for no reason, that the Yankees would not sign Sabathia prior to the 2009 season). They were just wrong about the risk/reward aspects of the whole situation, they were so scared of what might happen in the future that they were willing to trade away too many of the Yankees’ financial and personnel assets in a gambit to give them a security blanket. So, I guess I kinda don’t think they were in a ‘fallacy of predetermined outcome’ situation as much as they were in a ‘bunch of dumb pansies’ situation.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Whatever you say, tubby.

              • Thomas

                FYI, I have found this website all about logical fallacies.

                The highlight fallacies are the “No True Scotsmen Fallacy,” where the author mentions Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s fallacies, and the “Fallacy of the Pre-Determined Outcome,” where the author brings up Michael Kay and says “Go Yankees.”

      • Ed

        it was trade for johan or pay the same to cc in a year and not give up any procpects

        I understand that aspect of it all, but, that totally doesn’t fit the behavior pattern I was pointing out.

        Saying “accept my trade offer by Wednesday or I’m moving on”, then making an offer to a free agent on Thursday makes sense.

        Saying “accept my trade offer by Wednesday or I’m moving on”, then not making an offer to a free agent until next offseason doesn’t make sense.

        Saying “accept my trade offer by Wednesday or I’m moving on”, doing nothing on Thursday, then saying “Sorry to late” when you get a call on Friday about the trade offer makes no sense.

        Hence why I pulled Pettitte into it. That makes the stance make sense. And yes, you can extend that to trade for Santana in ’08 OR sign Pettite in ’08 and try for Sabathia in ’09.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    You know, as painful as it is, I’ve had to let a few people go over the years…

    Yogi Berra… Lou Pinella… Bucky Dent… Billy Martin… Dallas Green… Dick Howser… Bill Virdon… Billy Martin… Stump Merrill… Billy Martin… Bob Lemon… Billy Martin… Gene Michael… Buck Showalter… Joe Torre…

  • Link

    I am actually glad that Hank no longer makes statements. I never liked George’s rants and enjoy watching a team that is successful and does not have off the field nonsense going on.

  • JohnnyC

    This meme of George the mercurial, batshit owner who changes managers more often than he changes underwear jumped the shark a baseball generation ago. Yet the MSM continues to revel in it, baring the teeth of its intense Yankees-hate. Meanwhile, Drayton McLane has slashed and burned his way through a platoon of managers and GMs in just the last 5 years…to no apparent purpose. Yet, ESPN doesn’t run file video of the guy every five minutes.

    • J.R.

      Yeah, but who gives a shit about the Astros.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        J.R. Richard, is that you?

        • J.R.

          Not gonna lie, I had to look that reference up. Whitty for sure.

          But have you seen his innings total from 76-79, in those 4 seasons he threw 1125.6 IP. No wonder he had a stroke.

    • Ed

      Choose your own ending to this sentence:

      When you’re a small market team that has had a losing record every year but one since the last strike…

      a) changing managers often is somewhat understandable.

      b) the manager situation doesn’t really matter much, so no one cares.

      c) … wait, there’s a major league team in Kansas City?

      • Ed

        Ooops, nevermind.

        I read it quick thought you said Dayton Moore.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        The correct answer is d) load up your entire team with as many illegal PEDs from just over the Mexican border as you can get your hands on, and then tell Congress they shouldn’t bother investigating steroids in major league baseball.

  • MikeD

    Hank was never George. He had quotes that seemed goofy, but not angry. There was no bite behind the bark. I think Hal has been running things on the business side from day one, and Hank was supposed to be the go-to go for the media. Once they saw that wasn’t working too well, it was killed, and so was Hank’s role.

    • Tom Zig

      You mean like the whole A-rod contract fiasco?

  • Bo

    Let the guy count his money and smoke his cigarettes in peace.