One of the most entertaining aspects of my job is watching owners and team executives flee the buliding whenever owners' meetings or general managers' meetings adjourn. It's like the end of the school year in "Grease."

It doesn't matter how nice the locale is, either; here, they stayed at an elegant hotel at the supposed birthplace of baseball. I trailed Hal Steinbrenner basically from the moment he left the meeting room until he got into his car service to his private jet. Our interview lasted two minutes and three seconds, and that includes small talk (which never elevated to the level of medium talk, as Larry tried to do last week on "Curb Your Enthusiasm").

Anyway, let's get down to business:

--Joe Torre said that umpire Dana DeMuth screwed up when he ruled Billy Butler's ball a home run on Wednesday night. It's really inexcusable. The umpires have to know the ground rules of every ballpark when they start the game. They just have to.

And really, MLB should send Joe Girardi flowers or something as a thank-you gift. Once Girardi failed to file a protest before the next pitch, the issue became one to discuss in theory, rather than one to retroactively fix.

Because if Girardi had correctly lodged a protest, what sound logic could MLB have used to not uphold the protest and restart the game at the point of Butler's hit? After all, the replay apparatus is in play to make sure home run calls are ruled correctly. 

--As for Steinbrenner, he reiterated that he'd like Brian Cashman to return next year, and that his family intends to own and run the Yankees for the long haul. I asked him the latter question because there have been rumblings within the industry that the Steinbrenners would sell the team sooner than later.

I asked Steinbrenner specifically about a rumor I heard that Steve Swindal _ the former heir to George Steinbrenner's throne who divorced Hal's sister Jennifer, only to be back in the family's good graces _ had been asked to rejoin the organization in a formal fashion. Steinbrenner said that rumor was inaccurate.

Cashman? I still think he'll come back. It's like with Bud Selig and the commissioner's job. After so many "Will he or won't he?" dilemmas concluding with "He will," I'll bet on the status quo.

--Selig said that, these past two days, he never even spoke with Fred Wilpon about his financial status and the state of the Mets. That seems hard to believe, except for the fact that the two men communicate frequently by phone so there's no need to say much in person. In any case, Selig professed confidence that the anti-Mets appellate court result from this past Tuesday wouldn't damage the Wilpons' and Saul Katz's long-term viability.

--And finally, MLB announced that former Met Mike Jacobs failed a blood test for human growth hormone and therefore received a 50-game suspension. Very interesting. This is a boon for the pro-blood test crowd.

I still say that, given what we know about H.G.H. and its limited power used alone, the end doesn't justify the means of an intrusive blood test. Yet this news certainly stirs the pot some. I doubt that the Players Association will sign off on blood testing in the next collective bargaining agreement, but I bet they'll make some concession on the drug-testing front.

--OK, I'm heading back home. Here I come, Thruway. Have a good night.





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