clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Breaking down Hal Steinbrenner’s radio interview

Highlights of a wide-ranging interview with the Yankees’ owner.

Aaron Judge Press Conference Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Hal Steinbrenner had a thirty-minute radio interview on The Michael Kay Show Wednesday afternoon, addressing the overall state of the team and the organization. It was a wide-ranging conversation that addressed everything from roster construction to alternate uniforms. Much of the interview offered the same tone and deflection that is often found in interviews with the Yankees owner — he seems laid back and soft-spoken, but you could sense the frustration in his voice.

The frustration, however, seems to stem from the line of questioning rather than the current state of the ball club. The highlight of the interview came when he stated his sense of confusion with how fans are currently reacting to this season’s woes. While he highlighted injuries and the need for many of the Yankees’ top players to return, there should be an understanding from Hal that being 9.5 games back in late June is a reasonable concern for a fan. Here are a few more highlights from the interview:

Question: “If you have failed since 2009, there doesn’t seem to be any accountability in those failures if the same guys keep coming back to take another kick at the can.”

Answer: “Well I think the accountability is with the fans, I mean if they lost confidence in us and the way we do things and what we do to try and win a championship every year, they’re going to let us know in a variety of ways, so I always feel accountable.”

This answer struck me. I think the fans have done plenty to voice their displeasure with the current state of the club, except for the area that probably matters the most to Hal, and that’s attendance. Viewership, merchandise sales, and attendance will always be strong if the Yankees are a decent team. The organization knows that, but the fans don’t care about that, they care about the Yankees winning a championship. Why would the accountability fall solely on the fans anyway? Is it our responsibility as fans to voice our displeasure only in a way that affects their bottom line of the organization? The accountability should be with the players, coaches, and general manager, and the only person with the power to hold them all accountable is Hal. People can call into radio shows, write articles, and send tweets, but Hal is not making decisions off the fan’s feelings. That has never been more clear than the extension that was given to Brian Cashman this offseason.

Question: “Are you curious as to why there are teams that have been able to be higher than you in the standings and maybe better than you over the last few years with much less payroll?”

Answer: “Well look I think a lot of it is … if you’re in a market where you can struggle year after year for four or five years there is going to be an advantage, eventually, to that, draft picks you get and so on … there are other really smart GMs out there, I’m not saying there are not, Tampa has done a phenomenal job … and the Orioles we knew they would be good.”

Organizations have different ways of building rosters, and not every low-payroll club has tanked for four or five years to be successful. Regardless of strategically being bad, those teams still need to draft and develop players properly for there to be a significant impact. Any “advantage” those teams may have by being in markets that allow for a significant stretch of incompetence should be nullified by a close to $300 million payroll. I’m sure if any of those teams could switch places with the Yankees financially, they would.

I think low payroll teams like the Tampa Bay Rays consistently being successful in this division is a direct indictment of your own staff and GM, rather than the excuse of not being able to tank in this market. Hal went on to say that it’s not in his DNA to go about building a roster in that fashion anyway, as he wants a consistent playoff team on the field each year. That’s fair; I think any fan can get behind having a competitive team each season, but the continued notion that just having a playoff team is good enough has run dry. He even stated that the organization believes that if you just get into the playoffs then you have a legitimate shot of winning the whole thing. The past 14 years have shown that having a chance to win the whole thing and actually doing it, are two completely different things.

Overall, the interview played out as most would expect. The plea to fans that the organization is also frustrated with the lack of championships, and that they are doing everything they can to win. Using the term “fail to win,” but not seeing good seasons with a playoff appearance as an abstract failure.

There is only one way that this organization will be able to silence the noise, and that is to win a championship.