Prince Hal wins! The cool and calculating younger son seizes control of the Yankees from his blustering brother Hank!
Well, on Major League Baseball’s flow chart, anyway. MLB announced today that a vote of the owners of the other 29 franchises approved the Yankees’ request to transfer “control” of the franchise from George Steinbrenner to Hal. It doesn’t mean that Hal has any more power than he did yesterday, however. MLB requires each team to have a single head, but that’s more a formality than anything (for instance, according to MLB, the Mets are controlled by Fred Wilpon, but his son Jeff is running more of the show as time goes on). The move does underscore what happened during the 2008 season, with Hal a bigger presence in the Bronx and in the financial management of the Yankees. Hank’s not much for titles or formalized responsibility, but he’s still very much a force, if an erratic one, in decisions about pursuing free-agent pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, because of his personality and his standing as first-born son.
The most interesting thing about the procedural shift was commissioner Bud Selig’s revealing comment: “I’m not going to ask the people in the family why they picked one against the other. I don’t need to get into family squabbles.” It’s another indication that the Steinbrenner family drama, which includes daughter Jenny, is still very much unsettled. For now, the greatest significance of today’s events is that this is a very rare official acknowledgment by the Yankees of what’s been painfully apparent for some time: George Steinbrenner is in serious decline.
Related: Après George le Déluge [NYM]