The Yankees made official today what baseball fans have come to realize over the last 18 months: George Steinbrenner is no longer running the show. Instead, he officially passed the baton to his son, Hal Steinbrenner, who received unanimous approval in a vote by the rest of MLB's owner. Don't expect much upheaval, though; Hal readily admits the only thing this changes is the title on his business card:
"Really, for the last two years I have been intimately involved with all aspects and all departments of the company. It's what I've been doing day-to-day. My duties aren't really going to change and my workload isn't going to change much. So, I mean, it's as much a procedural thing within the family, I think, as anything at this point."
Hal and his older brother Hank were named co-chairmen of the team last April, but even though Hank has made a habit of putting himself in front of more microphones, the consensus among those who know such things has been all along that Hal has been the one running the show. That said, it has to be reassuring for Yankees fans to know the hierarchy is finally etched in stone.
Unlike his volatile brother, Hal plays things close to the vest and seems capable of making level-headed decisions without second-guessing his manager, toeing the line between praise and tampering or being insulted when small-market teams dare play hard. The media will almost certainly continue to gravitate toward Hank looking for his next crazy soundbite, but rest assured that the man who's really behind the curtain is completely sane.