Commentary

Hank not passing the smell test

While he sounds like his late father, the young Steinbrenner can't be taken seriously

Updated: February 23, 2011, 7:23 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hank Steinbrenner is not the new Boss, he is the wacky uncle.

Hank can look a little like the old man, sound somewhat like him, but ultimately he doesn't have the juice. In the end, he only has the old man's last name.

We don't want to beat Steinbrenner up because the media, in some ways, is as much at fault as Steinbrenner. In our quest to replace his father, we are hoping for anyone who looks the part.

But it all doesn't pass the smell test.

If you listen to the podcast, you can decide for yourself how seriously you should take Hank. Yes, he is the co-chairman, but no one can say exactly what he does. Hal is the money man, discussing budgets, regularly devising plans with team president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman. Hank helps out with a youth baseball team, but besides that no one can explain tangibly what Hank does.

Even the commissioner's office decided to call Hal and Levine to tell Hank to put a lid on the revenue sharing complaints.

On Tuesday, the media waited out Hank again in the Yankees' cafe, this reporter included. In the café called Max's, we all saw Hank walk in during lunch, waited for him to finish his soup and then pounced. It was like the old days when reporters had to schedule their lunch around the Boss'.

But the nostalgia dies because the words don't really make sense.

Steinbrenner tried to explain his comments, but ultimately confused more than clarified. He said he wasn't talking about Derek Jeter when he mentioned the "mansions." He said he used the wrong "euphemism." OK?

Pointing to mansions when Jeter is building a 30,000-foot house is sort of a specific euphemism, don't you think? At least, he could have said "dating starlets." Then we could have gotten Alex Rodriguez involved in this minor mess too.

But Hank went on and on and it didn't make a whole lot of sense, honestly. He was asked if by "building mansions" he meant that the players were living too well.

"They are very highly paid and like I said before some of them are richer than their bosses," the unshaven Steinbrenner said. "That's thanks to good old revenue sharing."

No, it is not. Revenue sharing is when the Yankees and the richer teams in the sport give money to the lower revenue teams. It has nothing to do with the Yankees' salaries. In fact, in theory, it would limit how much Yankees players are paid.

We could slice up all of Steinbrenner's comments. But his way with words is too easy of a target to shred to the core. They are pretty incomprehensible so the question is: How much stock should we put in them going forward?

Jeter and manager Joe Girardi handled Steinbrenner's Monday salvos as best they could. He is the co-chairman of the team so, in theory, he could really do some damage, if he wants. But Hal is the brother with the real power.

So Girardi used diplomacy, while Jeter went for laughs.

"When Mr. Steinbrenner passed away, we knew the expectations weren't going to change," Girardi said.

The manager, who likes things quiet, can't like that Hank goes off. Girardi takes an NFL's coach's approach to talking to the media. He doesn't like to be too specific on anything so he danced around the questions and talked about how everyone was frustrated with the way last year ended.

Jeter said you can't assume that Hank as talking about him. Later, Hank said the same thing. Even though, it was obvious whom Hank was referencing.

"It was definitely not Derek I was talking about," Steinbrenner said.

Sure, it wasn't. But this is definitely not the Boss who was talking. We in the media might not change. If Hank wants to say explosive stuff, we will probably be there to record it. But it is not the same. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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