I’m thankful for the Baby Boss for purely selfish reasons, of course…he makes this team SO much more fun to cover than the rest of the boring, blah, buttoned-down Yankees brass. Need proof? Here’s Hank on arguably the two biggest names of the last 25 years – Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera - “As much as we want to keep everybody, we’ve already made these guys very, very rich, and I don’t feel we owe anybody anything monetarily,” the Yankees co-chairman said Tuesday. “Some of these players are wealthier than their bosses.” Doesn’t sound like Steinbrenner is ready to cave to the demands made by either of the team’s superstars, does it?
But, as much as Hank is always good for a quote, he’s hardly alone in his hard-line stance on Mo and the Captain. In fact, team brass is really playing these contract negotiations about as well as they possibly could. GM Brian Cashman stood right on the same side of the fence when it came to the Jeter negotiations with these comments: “We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this,” Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com. “If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.” More Cashman on Jeter, from NJ.com: “We’ve been honest, we’ve been direct, we’ve been out front with the player and the agent,” Cashman said. “We have not utilized the press, as alleged. But when he decided to go to the press, we had to explain it a little bit.” This was a direct middle finger raised in the direction of Jeter’s agent Casey Close after Close called the Yankees negotiations “baffling” and accused the team of negotiating in the press.
So, Yankees management has taken the unsentimental tact of basically telling the biggest names in this generation of Bombers that the team isn’t considering past history when it comes to these negotiations. And, they’ve gotten away with it in the court of public opinion, which I have to admit I find surprising to say the least. The other Steinbrenner, Hal, warned everyone when this whole thing started that it could get ugly, and he was right on the mark. Just how ugly it gets still remains to be seen. I just thank the man above that Hank has been released from his exile in Siberia (or Tampa) just in time to make the verbal sparring more fun.