Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Two hundred reporters attend Tanaka's news conference, and not one had the guts to throw his shoe at Hal Steinbrenner
Posted by el duque at 7:31 AM
“We know what our fans expect,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “They expect us to field a championship-caliber team, every year, as best we can. I think we’ve got a very good team.”
“We went out to L.A. and met him and talked to him, to try and say, ‘This is where you need to be, you’re a great star, the biggest franchise, the biggest brand, the biggest city,’ ” Randy Levine said.
OK, don't get me wrong. All Yankee fans hope we just signed the end to the team's rampant malfeasance and incoherent strategies. But lost in the jubilation over Tanaka is the reality that the Yankees apparently decided not to be "the biggest brand, the biggest city" when Mr. Darivsh, Mr. Cespedes, Mr. Puig, Mr. Chapman and the others came to America in recent years. Nope, the Yankees didn't even bid on them. The owners wanted to lay low.
LISTEN: The signing of Tanaka was not a sign of the Yankees' pride and prestige. It was a sign of desperation, a sign that some middle management weasel found in focus groups that the fanbase was so depressed about the direction of the franchise that the YES network in 2014 - which the Steinbrenners were about to peddle to Rupert Murdoch - would need nude mud-wrestlers to attract viewers after June 1.
It still might. Right now, if this team were a plane, it would have six propellers and one wing. Signing Tanaka might look like a throwback to the good ol' days, when George always chased the best international talent on the market. But it's a Hail Mary pass for a team that might win 85 games - or collapse on the runway.
Last year, the Steinbrenners decided to call in sick and shrink their payroll to $189 million. It was a bad idea - a really bad idea. But here's something that might even prove to be worse: They blew up the plan in mid-stream and sign thirtysomething players to long-term deals.
Listen: I'm glad Hal and Randy got their Gatsby moment yesterday. I'm glad Tanaka is with us, rather than against us. I'm glad the Steinbrenners have found their wallets. They can sell us this guy's potential. But if they're trying to sell us the notion that the franchise has turned itself around, it will take a lot more than 200 reporters in a cafeteria to get our attention. And if we're in fourth on July Fourth, it might not be just fireworks in the air. There might be penny-loafers.