To anyone who believes George Steinbrenner and his fax machine rescued the Yankees on Monday night, we offer the following public service announcement: Get real.
The Boss had nothing to do with turning a 19-8 win over the Devil Rays into glorified batting practice, just as his worn-out, enough-is-enough statement served to humor Joe Torre and not much else. The manager has long since figured out the way to deal with Steinbrenner is to make like the matador with the raging bull: keep stepping aside until the beast exhausts itself.
Torre played his hand perfectly, agreeing down to the last syllable of Steinbrenner’s most recent communiquÃ©. The Yankees are underachieving? Sure thing, Torre said. Enough is enough? Who could argue, Torre said, suppressing a smirk.
Only a novice Steinbrenner observer failed to recognize how predictable Sunday’s outburst was. The Boss waited until the Yankees had been swept by the Orioles, knowing the helpless Devil Rays were coming to town. Steinbrenner also knows he still has enough tabloid clout to keep the Mets off the back pages for a day, always a nice perk for “The Man.”
But no matter how busy his rhetoric machine has been, Steinbrenner knows there’s nothing he can do to actually change the Yankees’ profile. No one is getting fired, not if the staff went unpunished after losing to the Red Sox in October. None of the position players are getting traded. Practically the entire roster, bloated at $203 million, seems unmovable.
If Steinbrenner really wants someone to blame for the Yankees’ sluggish start, he can start by looking in the mirror. He’s the one who’s been collecting stars, one at a time, one long-term commitment after another, until the Bombers completely broke from the late ’90s philosophy of chemistry first, stats second.
For anyone overly impressed by the Yankees’ offensive outburst Monday night, the blowout of Tampa was the 10th time in 13 games the Bombers have failed to get a quality start.