Yankees Chairman Hal Steinbrenner announced a press conference for Thursday morning at the funniest possible time: after midnight the previous evening, with his Yanks still clattering towards a likely victory in a game they should’ve bagged because of rain long before the witching hour.
Little did he know Aroldis Chapman was about to post a biblical blown save, and he’d have to fight back a lot more vinegar than he was likely expecting.
Nevermind all the quite serious things that needed to be said, though. When Steinbrenner arrived at the microphone around noon, he was mostly relentlessly positive, and even showed renewed willingness to overspend at the deadline if necessary to improve this cratering roster.
Do you believe him? Does anyone?
Steinbrenner’s most intriguing soundbite involved the luxury tax, everyone’s favorite bugaboo and a self-imposed restriction that has already harmed this team immeasurably, even if they prepared a massive about-face at the deadline.
The Yankees chairman claims he’ll consider passing that threshold if the team needs another piece to compete. He also cited his signing of Masahiro Tanaka in 2014, ironic because Tanaka was jettisoned to Japan this offseason to duck back under said tax.
Again: does anyone believe him?
Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner fed fans a bunch of lies about whatever during his press conference.
This statement, even if true, is easily disprovable as helpful in any way. Of course the Yankees could use an extra player now! There are myriad holes on the roster.
They also could’ve used several in the winter that could’ve pushed them over the top. Kyle Schwarber would’ve been nice. Michael Brantley would’ve fit. A return of Tanaka would’ve been a shrewder decision than banking on Michael King for insurance! Even if Steinbrenner is being earnest at this point, he’s clearly too late to the party.
Then there was the segment of the program where he focused on being proactive, not reactive, getting Yankees fans across the country to shout, “If George were alive…” in unison.
Hal is not his father, though, and made sure to point out that his pops’ in-season firings sometimes backfired.
So, what do we think here? Does Steinbrenner really have more foresight than his father did, or does he just care less and has chosen to backtrack into a justification for that apathy?
In this instance, the younger Steinbrenner is right. Going insane and blowing up the clubhouse rarely works … except at a time like this, when Aaron Boone’s nice-guy message clearly hasn’t created a fundamentally-sound roster full of superstars. Again: could this roster possibly be worse with someone else at the helm? Wouldn’t we like to find out?
Alas, Steinbrenner said the current coaching staff is “absolutely” the right group to lead this core forward. We’d love to catch him lying here.
As for the deadline? Steinbrenner has no reason to envision his team as sellers when that time comes. Hopefully, this is true. Winning is great. But reality must be faced.
At the end of the day, Steinbrenner laid a surprising amount of blame at the feet of the on-field talent he’s put together. He sugarcoated nothing, describing a team meeting mid-week last week by saying, “We all can share the blame, but the majority of the blame lies with [the players].”
On this point, we can agree with him. The regression of the players in the room has been the most stunning revelation of 2021.
However, the rest of this appearance felt like embracing a depressing status quo after he believed he was about to bathe in glory after a series-turning win.