Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hank Steinbrenner needs Howard Rubenstein--Newsday

"Hank Steinbrenner, son of The Boss, it's time to get better acquainted with your dad's public relations flack Howard Rubenstein. Given your missteps in the past few weeks, Rubenstein should become your best friend. Make him your personal firewall against disaster, a say-nothing human sandbag who will throw himself in the way every time you or team president Randy Levine are tempted to call this reporter or that, then whine and concoct conspiracy theories about your rough treatment in the wake of Torre's departure.
  • The Yankees have too much other important business pending, starting with interviewing managerial candidates this week and plotting how to outmanuever Alex Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras, to having their top two executives behaving like crybabies who can be distracted by public criticism. Time to grow up. Learn to take a hit.
Once you get over the soaring egotism in both (Randy's and Hank's) complaints (it was Torre who got shown out, right?), then the spectacle of the Yankees' top two executives throwing themselves from their high chairs onto the floor like persecuted children, the thought that comes to mind is: This is leadership? Acting tough and talking tough, then petulantly boo-hooing the fact that outsiders disagree with you? Hank's condescending comment about Torre depicted Torre as if he were just the help. They also made you wonder what qualities Hank wants in the new help. Is boot-licking mandatory, not just winning? Given Hank's sensitivity to criticism, does he really have the guts to risk hiring a headstrong contrarian like Joe Girardi or a surprise candidate over Don Mattingly, the more popular candidate who interviewed Tuesday? Doesn't begrudging Torre credit confirm that some Yankees executives resented how much praise Torre got for the entire organization's success, even though everyone got rich?
  • The behavior of Hank Steinbrenner and Levine in the past couple weeks raises uncomfortable questions about their judgment and their ability to make tough calls going forward, especially in the face of criticism. It makes you question if either man has the temperament to shoulder their expanded public roles now that George Steinbrenner has receded to the background.
But what Hank -- like his father before him -- keeps missing is folks in this city have always related most to other things -- the blue-collar ethic of Mattingly and the unvarnished passion of Paul O'Neill; Jeter's gift for understatement and Mariano Rivera's unstinting grace under pressure; Jorge Posada's dependabililty and Torre's decency."

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