Hal Steinbrenner is the managing partner of a team that would command $5 billion on the open market. Why doesn’t it feel that way, though?
Hal Steinbrenner cannot be held responsible for his birthright as the inheritor of the New York Yankees franchise from his father, George Steinbrenner.
More and more, there seem to be fair questions as to whether or not Hal picked up all the genes and character traits from his Dad.
Stingy is not quite the operative adjective (yet). Still, Hal Steinbrenner’s behavior regarding the Yankee’s team payroll of late suggests more of an allegiance to the disgraced and former owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon.
The Wilpons continuously reneged on promises to Mets fans to improve the team by increasing payroll for more than a decade.
Ultimately, and though not without a fight, the realm of the Wilpons was deposed, and the Mets now have a major league owner leading the team.
Hal Steinbrenner: The Brakemaster
The Yankees are nowhere near that. But, there is an alarming trend to fans that Hal Steinbrenner has a strong and very different approach as the Yankees owner. Here’s a table that shows the dollar amounts contributed to the MLB treasury over the years.
Let your eyes do the work, and you’ll see the Yankees as a free-spending team until you get to 2018 when Hal Steinbrenner put the brakes as best he could.
It’s reasonable to suggest that when Steinbrenner saw his tax bill for 2020, though, he said, “Oh no, stop right there.”
Steinbrenner’s Payroll Edict
This brings us to where the Yankees are right now with a bit more than $3 million to spend before exceeding this year’s MLB instituted payroll limit of $210 million.
In a column published earlier today, I proposed the Yankees’ need to solidify and shake up their infield by pursuing a trade for Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop, Trevor Story, a move if made that would put the Yankees decidedly over the limit.
Now, there’s no other way to say this but to suggest that Hal’s dad would reach into his own pocket (if he had to and did on many occasions did while his ownership was in its infancy) to instruct Brian Cashman to make the trade – or else you’re going to be answering to me.
Brian Cashman is, of course, free to pursue a trade for Trevor Story, and he probably is doing so now.
But per the working relationship he has with Steinbrenner, Hal reserves the right to approve or disapprove the trade for financial reasons as if he could say the trade makes no sense from a baseball standpoint.
Hal Steinbrenner: An Owner’s Prerogative?
To be fair and even as fans of the Yankees, we can be fair – right? Any team owner has a right to operate his team as he sees fit, as long as MLB rules are adhered to faithfully.
He or she can spend lavishly or as frugally as they deem necessary, and that’s why the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A’s, et al. continue to be a marvel among teams in small markets who somehow find a way to win with less than half the payroll of the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and you know the rest.
But the point that is missed is that we’re talking about the New York Yankees and a legacy of winning more World Titles than any team in baseball, more members in the Baseball Hall of Fame than any other team, together with a brand that spells awareness and $$ wherever it finds its way.
As much as Mets fans reviled Fred Wilpon, the Mets themselves have always been, among others, as a wanna-be team when presented on the same stage as the Yankees.
That allowed Wilpon to play the spin-doctor master year after year, promising the legion of Mets fans – “We’re trying, hang in there.” And for so many wasted years, Mets fans did.
Until they didn’t, and all hell broke loose when the Wilpons legacy of personal debt (thank you, Bernie Madoff) became public. A multi-billionaire came upon the scene in the name of Steve Cohen to capture the Mets, ingratiating and reviving the spirit of Mets fans and the players.
For me then, the question is this. Are there enough Yankees fans of the same variety of Mets fans who draw the line to say – “Enough is enough, and we deserve to be treated for what we are – the largest contingent of fans on this continent”?
Sadly, I don’t sense in response to my writing about both the Mets and Yankees; there is no comparison to be made between Mets fans’ vigor and enthusiasm versus Yankees fans (today).
Hal Steinbrenner: Depose Isn’t Necessary – An Uproar Is
Before we get crazy, this is not about deposing Hal Steinbrenner with a new owner as it was with the Wilpons.
It is, however, all about making enough noise to embarrass him and his wealthy shareholders to act like the New York Yankees, so as not to shrink, for example, of paying $2 million as a luxury tax to trade for Trevor Story.
Hal Steinbrenner has every right to be the owner/businessman he chooses to be as stipulated before.
But make no mistake, George Steinbrenner, if he could, would only have a quizzical look on his face as he looks up to his son asking – “Really”?
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