Some Hank Steinbrenner musings

I know I touched upon Hank Steinbrenner’s recent comments yesterday morning, but there were a few good comments. As I was in the land of our enemies this weekend, I didn’t get a chance to respond to one I found particularly interesting.

Mustang, one of the RAB regulars, had this to say in response to my writing “George Steinbrenner, he is not” about Hank:

Take it from me. Hank is George the sequel. Most of you did not have the “joy” of living with the early years of George Michael Steinbrenner III. George managed the same kind of reaction that Hank does and the media loved to hate him for it. For what it’s worth if Hank can lead the Yankees to 10 pennants and six World Series titles I don’t care what he does.

Mustang brings up two valid points, but I think the analysis is slightly off target. In a way, Hank is very much like his father. He says stupid stuff that the media laps up and regurgitates in a way designed to sell papers. In the parlance of the industry, Hank makes for great copy.

But there is a very substantial difference between Hank Steinbrenner and George Steinbrenner: When George would talk, things happened. George’s words, especially during his 1970s and 1980s heydays, weren’t bluster. When he threatened to fire his manager, he would fire his manager. When he threatened to make the biggest splash possible, he went out and made the biggest splash possible.

Hank, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as imposing as his dad. When Hank rants about Johan Santana or his “piss-ant employees,” absolutely nothing happens. When Hank rails on staying the course one day and trading the farm to do whatever it takes to win the next, nothing in the Yankee front office changes. Hal Steinbrenner comes work; Brian Cashman comes to work; and no one cowers in fear. Whereas George came off an egomaniac bent on doing whatever he thought necessary to run the team, Hank just sounds like a child throwing a tantrum. He can make all the noise he wants, but in the end, as the Rolling Stones once said, he can’t always get what he wants.

I’ll stand by what I said yesterday: Until Hank’s words translate into the same kind of rash, irrational actions that became a hallmark George Steinbrenner, his father Hanks is not.

Now, if as Mustang says, the Yanks win 10 pennants and six World Series while Hank is the team’s co-chairperson in charge of stupid comments, none of us are going to complain. We’ll just keep on ignoring him and enjoy the winning.

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Who cares about Hank

Tom Fornelli of AOL’s Fanhouse wrote about the Hank Steinbrenner outburst yesterday. The short of is that Hank, in an interview with The Post, claimed that he was the one in charge of the Yankees and everyone else was just a lowly employee of him. It was clearly Hank’s sad effort at imitation. George Steinbrenner, he is not.

So here’s my question about Hank: Why do so many Yankee writers and bloggers get into a tizzy when he opens his mouth? Sure, there’s an economic argument to it; Hank’s stupid comments sell newspapers and generate site traffic. But does anyone really think this guy is still serious? After all we’ve seen over the last few months, does anyone actually believe he’s in charge of the Yankees? I know I don’t.

Heyman: Hank’s comments ‘clearest example of tampering’

Last week, Hank Steinbrenner raised some eyebrows when he told Newsday that the Yanks were “looking at” CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. While these admission is hardly a secret, that Steinbrenner was willing to name-drop Sabathia, a free agent-to-be, and Burnett, a player currently under contract to the Blue Jays for more than the next few months, raised a few concerns.

In particular, Jon Heyman expressed his surprise at the announcement. The Sports Illustrated scribe called the remarks “the clearest example of tampering in recent history.” While Heyman admits that MLB doesn’t really enforce tampering rules, just this statement of fact on Heyman’s part got me thinking about Steinbrenner.

Hank is relatively new to the baseball scene and the New York tabloids. He also has the Steinbrenner tendency to run his mouth off whenever he feels like it regardless of who is around and what he’s saying. Not only is Steinbrenner tampering with Burnett — the Blue Jays’ pitcher is even more likely to exercise his opt-out clause now — but Steinbrenner is weakening the Yankee hand.

Sure, everyone knows that the Yanks want a top-line starter for 2009. Sure, everyone knows that the Yankees will have the money to overwhelm Sabathia. But by dropping the names, Hank gives more power to the pitcher. Reign it in, Hank. It’s bad bargaining business to give the other side so much information well ahead of any potential negotiation.

Hank: There will be changes

Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken half of the Yankees management team, stopped by the stadium last night to watch the Yanks lose badly to the Red Sox. After the game, he agreed with just about everyone watching in noting that the Yankees sucked. But before the game, he spoke with reporters and all but admitted that CC Sabathia would be the Yanks’ number one priority this off-season. There will be changes, he promised. Who knows what those will be, but it’s bound to make for an exciting off-season.

What Hank said

When I first posted my instant analysis on Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury on Sunday afternoon, I pointed my finger at the inanities of Interleague Play. The marketing gimmick, I argued before getting refuted by the commenters here, unnecessarily puts American League pitchers at risk. While these athletes are in fine shape, they aren’t used to the act of running the bases. It’s not one of the five tools for nothing.

While it’s hard to argue that Wang’s injury was directly a result of Interleague Play and his running the bases, it was only the second time in his professional career that Chien-Ming Wang found himself on base. That is not a comforting thought for anyone relying on the health of the Yankees ace. As luck would have it, the Yanks caught a very bad break, and Wang finds himself out until, by all indications, at least September.

While Yankee fans are being surprisingly stoic about this spin of the wheel of fortune, the Big Mouth of the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner himself, had a few ridiculous choice words for the rules of the Senior Circuit. Said Hank:

“My only message is simple: The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century. I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s…

“This is always a concern of American League teams when their pitchers have to run the bases and they’re not used to doing it. It’s not just us. It’s everybody. It probably should be a concern for National League owners, general managers and managers when their pitchers run the bases. Pitchers have enough to do without having to do that.”

Setting aside the fact that the DH is from 1973, and pitchers used to bat in both leagues for decades prior to that, Hank, through the bluster, does raise something of a point. When Major League teams invest so heavily in pitching and pay through the nose for guys at the top of the game, all General Managers must cringe in agony every time one of their hurlers takes a big hack or winds up on base. Whether or not that’s good for the game is another matter.

For Hank, this is just more of the same. He likes to sound off, and it doesn’t impact anything other than the number of papers sold in New York, the ratings of the FAN and the general perception of Steinbrenner in the eyes of everyone else.

From a practical matter, the Yankees are going to have to proceed carefully. As foot guru Dr. Philip Kwong told BP’s Will Carroll today, the Yankees have to make sure Wang’s injury is 100 percent healed before he does anything else because the risk of chronic injury is very high. Carroll speculates that the Yanks’ record will dictate how they rehab their young ace, and I would be surprised to see Wang pitch again this season. He’s just that important next year.

The injury was horrendously bad luck, and we can harbor resentment toward the NL. Maybe it’s time to revisit that age-old DH debate or maybe not. But one thing is for sure: Hank Steinbrenner makes for great copy.

Hank Steinbrenner joins media ranks

The Sporting News, demonstrating that it can adapt, is changing formats starting in September, going to a semi-monthly publication, rather than the weekly format it has right now. Feature articles and analysis will fill its pages, keeping the timely material mainly relegated to the website, where it will deliver daily content to registered users. For anyone who keeps up with these matters, this is refreshing. Publishing simply doesn’t work like it used to, and the sooner the mainstream press figures this out, the better off we’ll all be.

Of interest to Yankees fans is that our bombastic co-owner, Hank Steinbrenner, will pen a monthly column. My initial reaction is that this will end badly. Yet I’m eager to read his first article. What the hell is he going to write about?