Monday, May 19, 2008

Idle threat of the week

If you haven't heard of Hank Steinbrenner, it isn't for a lack of effort on his part.

Steinbrenner, who this year completely assumed the day-to-day role as the principal owner of the New York Yankees from his ailing father, has tried his best to follow in the old man's footsteps by issuing one headline inviting tough-guy statement after another. (That is when he is not denying that he is stupid.)

The junior boss was able to cause a bit of a stir last month when he recommended the hard hats working on the new Yankee Stadium impart swift-fisted justice upon a colleague who admitted to burying a Red Sox jersey in the concrete below the visitors' dugout. And this week Steinbrenner blasted his team for under-performing and demanded they begin earning the money he is contractually obligated to pay them one way or the other.

Which is what his father used to do all the time. Only George wasn't just about firing managers, feuding with his best players, and being kicked out of baseball (and then turning his lifetime bans into brief sabbaticals.) The original Steinbrenner also had the won/loss record to back up his excess and eccentricities: Even during the relatively fruitless decade of the 80's the Yankees had the best combined winning percentage in the Majors.

As it stands, two months into Hank's ownership career, the Yankees sit at the bottom of the American League East and even trail the historically hapless Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays by five games. The latter must be of extra humiliation for a Steinbrenner clan that has for years been able to lord over the Florida city in which they reside and much of the Yankees' baseball operations are based.

With the Yankees' roster currently a mixture of the old and the injured, it doesn't look like it's going to get that much better anytime soon. And Hank Steinbrenner's attempts to channel his buffoonish -- but iconic and successful -- father is the Idle Threat of the Week for May 12th to 18th.

If the world needed a good George Steinbrenner parody, maybe Hank would serve a purpose. But as long as Seinfeld is in reruns that role is already covered.

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