When George Steinbrenner completely turned over control of the New York Yankees to his sons Hank and Hal back in 2006, he surely felt that they were up to the task of keeping the Yankee legacy going. There is little doubt that the Steinbrenner boys are together George. As a team, they embody everything their father stood for and continue to use their money as a tool in the pursuit of World Series titles. But, fans should begin to listen to the words they use and not filter them with the Boss’s voice.
There is something to the way that the Steinbrenners have run this Yankee organization that has had an adverse affect on it fans. In fact, it is easy to suggest that the boo-bird mentality was instilled in part by George himself. Some Yankees fans feel entitled to having the best team on the field each and every season. The Steinbrenner mentality of winning the World Series each season is obviously not a poor goal, but an unrealistic measure of success and should not be taken on its face.
To the sons’ credit, they are a step behind their father in terms of the immediacy of delivering their feelings to the media. George loved the back page and while Hank is good for an occasional kick in the pants quote, he is tamed by his brother Hal, the calm counterpart.
The Yankee ownership has learned over the years to allow their management team to do their jobs—mostly. This is not to say that Hank and Hal are not a part of the decision making process when it comes to the roster and where their money is spent–they are still heavily involved. There isn’t a move made in which their stamp isn’t the final part of the process.
While many outside of Yankee fandom (and some within) think there is a ‘spend at will’ mantra from ownership, it is quite the opposite. This will always be a team which is at the top of the payroll ranks so long as the Steinbrenners are at the helm. However, recently they are becoming more in tune with the fact that the money is not the only method to fielding a winning team. In addition, they have rightly determined that cash they lose from the competitive balance or luxury tax could be put to other areas of the organization.
Hal put out a statement yesterday in which he spoke of the “disappointment” of the season, but also acknowledged the Yankees had many obstacles to overcome to reach the American League Championship Series.
We fell short of our singular and constant goal, which is a World Series Championship. However, I am proud of the accomplishments of this year’s team. We earned the best record in the American League and were one of the four teams to advance to the League Championship Series, despite having to overcome and fight through a series of long-term injuries to a number of our key players.
Steinbrenner vowed to use the offseason to address their issues and, “Examine our season in its totality, assess all of our strengths and weaknesses and take the necessary steps needed to maintain our sole focus of winning the World Series in 2013.”
Most importantly from a fans’ standpoint is this part of the statement.
Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. My family—and our organization—has a long-standing commitment to provide all of our fans a championship-caliber team year after year.
The commitment is still there and the goal is alive. But Yankees fans need to understand that just because the goal is the ultimate prize, there will continue to be the chance of disappointment. Winning the World Series is an immense task. It take several breaks in the course of 162 games and requires superior play with little room for error in winning 11 or 12 games during a playoff run.
We as fans should not expect a championship each season and consider anything less a failure. The Steinbrenners don’t and it is their money invested in the team which gives management the ability to field a playoff caliber team each season.
Read the words, there is no promise to win—there is an assurance to put forth their resources to field a team that has the ability to win it all. This isn’t the ‘heads will roll’ mentality of their father speaking. This is a calculated yet still spirited ownership—one which wants to win a World Series each and every season—that has not stopped. As fans we must be happy with the continued pursuit and follow the owners lead if the Yankees are sent home without a championship. Winning it all is still the goal, but falling short is not a failure, it’s a disappointment.