Former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner set the standard for hands-on ownership. The Boss was involved in everyone’s business, calling out players for bad weeks and firing managers for bad months.
By comparison, Steinbrenner’s sons Hal and Hank are much less present, taking care of the team’s finances while mostly staying out of baseball operations. Apparently that more traditional approach to franchise ownership has been construed as apathy, because ESPN’s Wallace Mathews felt the need to ask Hal if the team was or ever will be for sale.
The answer: A resounding no.
“This is a family business and we’re all involved,” he said, referring to siblings Hank, Jennifer and Jessica. “We all love being a part of this. We all know our dad wanted us to be a part of us, and we all know he’s watching down on us and happy that we’re all a part of it. Believe it or not, to us, that’s a big deal. The idea is, let’s keep it going.”
Hal and Hank have been running the team since their father stepped aside in 2007 in the face of his declining health. George Steinbrenner died July 13, 2010.
Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are not particularly old — they’re 49 and 58, respectively — but they’re apparently so committed to the Yankees that they’ve already begun planning the line of succession. From ESPN:
In fact, there are already long-term plans in the works to have George Steinbrenner’s grandchildren eventually take over operations of the team. According to Hal Steinbrenner, Stephen Swindal Jr. (son of Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal), George Michael Steinbrenner and Julia Steinbrenner Vinas (son and daughter of Hank Steinbrenner), Robert Molloy (son of Jessica Steinbrenner Molloy) and Hal’s daughter Katherine are all interested in being part of the next generation of Steinbrenners to run the Yankees.
“It’s already been discussed,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “We got a lot of grandkids, and they’re very interested. The idea is, it’s time to let the young elephants in the tent, in George’s words. So it’s begun.”
In the ESPN interview, Hal Steinbrenner also talked about how he doesn’t worry about the Yankees’ valuation and doesn’t even need the money, but it’s tough not to notice that the Yankees financial approach is different from how it was under George. Hal and Hank have expressed a desire to keep payroll under the luxury tax threshold, and the Yankees have now laid low during two straight off-seasons. After a decade of signing whomever they want, they’ve been outbid for players both young (Yoan Moncada) and old (Robinson Cano). Though there’s justification to being more judicious about their expenditures, the Steinbrenners have certainly become more conservative in their spending, and there’s an argument to be made that they’ve even become cheap.
Regardless, it’s pretty clear Hal and Hank don’t have quite the passion for the team (and the desperate need to win at all costs) their dad did, but it looks like they’re holding onto the franchise for a while nonetheless.