Saturday, March 21, 2015

"I found (being called cheap) very interesting," Steinbrenner said, smiling. We need a better word to describe him. How about "good loser."

We gotta stop calling Hal Steinbrenner "cheap." It makes him snicker. He thinks it's, like, oh, wow, man... "very interesting." The Dude abides.

Cheap? That's a nickel word. Hal's no cheapo. I bet at the yacht club, he's one of the top tippers.  Nobody accuses him of skimping on clam dip. "Cheap?" That's a funny one.

How about "scrappy." After all, the Yankees love to pick through flea markets and recycling centers for chea - uhhh - inexpensive contracts. He combs the scrap heaps because it's more challenging than paying top dollar for players. It's more fun.

It's too bad Hal inherited the biggest money machine in U.S. pro sports. He'd probably be happier owning the Indians. Then, he could tinker around, get to the playoffs once every five years, and the people of Cleveland would be happy. Not that it bothers him to be called "cheap." In fact, it makes him smile.

Prince Hal chose to grant an interview this week with the Daily News (which invested a team of reporters to probe A-Rod, back when there was still a chance he might get banned for life.) I missed the moment. Manager Girardi and I were at a South Austin taco bar watching Tunacola (Chilean insane party chaos) and The Boxing Lesson (cosmic rock from Mars) and The Migrant Kids (best new band from Austin) at SXSW. We wuz distracted.

Hal smiles when people call him "cheap," because - hey, he offered $25 million for Yoan Moncada. That's not cheap.

He's right. That's NOT cheap. A better word is "pointless"... because offering $25 million doesn't matter when somebody else - the Redsocks, for example - offers $32 million. Last I checked, nobody cares who finished second in bidding wars. Am I right, here? Is there some award in sports for finishing second in player auctions? Did Selig stick in a wild card tournament?

Imagine an owner who refuses to go an extra $7 million on a $3 billion investment, and I'm not sure "cheap" fits. I think the word should be... "HELLO-O-O-O?"

I recognize there are self-loathing Yankee fans who don't want the Yankees to buy pennants. I wish it were not true. But if the Yankees do buy pennants, it's because other owners are willing to sell them.
(Do fans of Alabama football feel bad because their team outspends the opposition?) When the Steinbrenners put out their pockets and say "no maas" on a bidding war - against Boston, no less - and then smile at the thought of it, there needs to be a word. Cheap doesn't cover it.

"Unhinged?" "Grub-like?"

Wait... I got it: "GOOD LOSERS."

Steinbrenner spoke on the fourth or fifth anniversary - it's hard to keep timelines anymore - of his famous declaration to shrink the Yankee payroll below the $189 million luxury tax line. This was a grand exhibition of Yankee franchise discipline. We let Russell Martin walk out the door. Then we signed Ichiro to an over-crowded outfield. We shuffled our feet on signing Robbie Cano to a long-term deal. Then, with the walls crashing, Hal jetisonned the plan and chased a pile of luxury-tax busting salary dumps... in true Steinbrennerian fashion.

Listen: There will come a day when Hal gets the Yankees below that horrible, annoying tax line. It will be when the line spikes above $200 million, because MLB revenues keep rising. (By the way, this is in part because cable networks charge huge monthly fees for ESPN, which everyone must pay. If they were called a "tax," the right would oppose it, but because it's done by corporations - their kind of people - it's all OK.)

When the luxury tax line hits $200 million, Hal's work will be done. That could happen in five years. In the meantime, folks, we get Chris Young and Stephen Drew and the signing of "C.C." means Chris Capuano. And we should be like Hal... good losers.


KD said...

Does this Hal feel joy after a walk-off, come-from-behind Yankees win? Does a crisply turned double play make him smile? Did his heartbeat quicken to "Enter Sandman"? How many games does he attend, you know, in person? Is this guy even a fan of Yankees baseball?

Hal seems to feel shame and remorse regarding the Yankees innate strengths as an organization: the ability, due to our market, to outspend our competitors to help field a winner. He wants to be loved, not by Yankees fans, but by the other owners and baseball insiders. He's like a politician selling out his constituents in order to be loved by Beltway insiders.

How can any fan support this bullshit?

joe de pastry said...

His father did a lot of dumb things, but at least he always tried to win. I've been a Yankee fan for 60 years, so I can't defect to another team, but I've lost my enthusiasm. I'll be watching a lot more of the hockey layoffs, MLB-TV, and SNY and a lot less YES this year.

mel cardonell said...

I think hal needs to contact George and learn a few things about ownership of the Yankees! we don't care about next year..we want to win right now! he will soon find out that Yankee fans will not wait forever to put a championship team together! he needs to get his sorry act together.

JM said...

I'm with joe de pastry. It's almost impossible for me to care by this point. The only sports I've been watching are Alpine skiing (Mikaela Schiffrin, Lindsey Vonn and Anna Fenninger are not only amazing, but they're damned cute), and the past couple days the women's curling world championship matches have been on. Also a sport with a disproportionate number of good-looking gals, but I'm an upstate boy. Curling feels natural, even if a match does take 3 hours (I'm conditioned by Yankees-Red Sox games, anyway).

Hal isn't exactly cheap. Smug might be a better word. Entitled. Maybe sociopathic, but I don't know the guy well enough to know if he's an earlier incarnation of the whoo-hoo frat boys who invade my neighborhood every weekend. Maybe.

Steve A. Smith said...

Just once I wish all Yankees fans would root for Boston.