You'll have to excuse me if I don't read like my normal, erudite self. I was part of a large media contingent to speak with Hank Steinbrenner, and I think my brain is bleeding.
Yes, it was a wacky day here at Yankees camp - and also a beautiful day - thanks to the Hank follow-up. Let's start with Hank himself:
--He stated that the "building mansions" comment was "a euphemism. It was a poor choice of a euphemism, but it was a euphemism."
He added: "Sometimes, teams get a little complacent. They celebrate for too long. You see that a lot in sports nowadays. It certainly isn’t Derek. Derek has five rings. You don’t win five rings by being complacent. So it was definitely not Derek I was talking about."
He later referred to the comment as "just a generalization."
But when I asked him what the generalization was for - living well? - Hank responded, "They’re very highly paid, and like I said before, some of them are richer than their bosses. That’s thanks to good old revenue sharing. But the bottom line is they’re coming in with renewed spirit this year, I think.
"They’re hungry again, like they were in spring training ’09. They feel they have something to prove. They know that. I can see it. I can see it with the guys I talk to, the coaches I’ve talked to. They really are very committed. They want it again. Now, there’s other good teams in baseball. Are we one of the favorites to win the championship? Of course."
Oh. Well, that clears up the confusion.
I must say, "too busy building mansions" is one of the more curious euphemisms I've ever heard. It's rather specific for a euphemism.
It begs the question, what was Hank's second choice for a euphemism? "Too busy dating Minka Kelly"?
And blaming revenue sharing for players making a lot of money? I think before spring training wraps up, Hank will be pointing the finger at revenue sharing for the goings-on in Libya, the Wisconsin mess and New Coke.
--Concerning the alleged lack of "hunger" last year, I said to him, "There's confusion, because you guys won 95 games last year and fell two ALCS wins short of making the World Series."
Hank's response: "Well, the Rays lost, as well, and they won the division. Sometimes we wear each other out in the American League East. That’s part of it, too. It’s by far the best division in baseball. By far. The best division in American sports.
"So that can be a factor, too. It can help you in the end, and it can hurt you in the end. It happened to the Rays and to us. Hopefully it will be different this time. I just hope the American League East teams, whoever they are, and I think we’ll be one of them, but we’ll keep winning."
Yeah, OK, that doesn't really answer the question at all.
--He did say that he had "an intermediary" explain what he was saying to Jeter, and Jeter confirmed this.
The bottom line is that Hank's words mean very little. As we've discussed, he's barely involved in Yankees operations. But that last name gives him access to those operations when he's in the mood, and it also gives his words more meaning.
So yeah, while it would be nice for us media folks to just ignore Hank, he could help us out even more by keeping quiet.
--Jeter, as you can see in the linked story by Erik Boland, handled the whole thing very well, mostly laughing and insisting that Hank has the right to say whatever he likes. Like most of us, Jeter emits a different vibe when he knows he has the intellectual and moral high ground.
--Joe Girardi tap danced like crazy to avoid contradicting Hank - "I think Hank Steinbrenner is expressing his frustration, the same frustration that all of us have that we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to last year_ but he had to come to his players' defense a little. For the sake of his relationship with his players, as well as defending his own job performance in 2010.
"I thought our guys played hard last year," Girardi said. "We prepared. We just didn’t play well against Texas."
Meanwhile, Bud Selig already has reached out to Hal Steinbrenner and president Randy Levine to remind them - to remind Hank - that there are to be no management comments about revenue sharing. There's an MLB-wide gag order as we approach negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
--Vicente Padilla is experiencing right elbow pain, a possible blow to the Dodgers' pitching depth.
--Veteran baseball executive Roland Hemond will receive the Buck O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Hall of Fame inductoins.
The award is a little cheesy; it was designed to memorialize O'Neill after a special committee neglected to put O'Neill in Cooperstown. But Hemond is beloved within the industry, so that should make people feel better about it.
--Have a great night.