Without once using the word “senile” or the far more provocative “Alzheimer’s”, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick claims that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner is no longer fair game.

Steinbrenner, nearly 76 years old, has grown chronically and increasingly forgetful. He forgets names and faces. And almost everyone he regularly deals with, especially Yankee business intimates, knows it.

Several of those intimates regard the continued quoting of Steinbrenner – and continued pursuit of quotes from him – as “cruel” and “unfair.”

“He just can’t be held accountable for what he says these days,” said one. “And anyone who quotes him on any issue or tries to read things into what he says is not playing fair, not applying common sense. That A-Rod thing the other night was a perfect example.”

Last week, Steinbrenner was quoted as mocking Alex Rodriguez for an open-the-doors error against the Red Sox. By referring to Rodriguez as, “the third baseman,” Steinbrenner was widely portrayed as being sarcastic, attaching a generic label to his star third baseman as a means of tweaking him.

“George simply forgot his name,” said one of Steinbrenner’s charges, a fellow who has both covered and worked for Steinbrenner.

Phil might be on to something here. Were Steinbrenner in full command of his mental faculties, he’d have called A-Rod “the Gold Glove shortstop we inexplicably moved to 3rd.”