We’ve always thought it was kind of nice that Hal Steinbrenner, unlike his brother, Hank, keeps his mouth shut. He doesn’t talk himself into a tizzy, he doesn’t battle with the press, and he doesn’t even bluster when events call for it. But this week, he talked at length with GQ and explained a lot of what he has been thinking in a calm, non-obnoxious way. It’s a great interview. “I’m more introverted than extroverted, for sure, but I’m definitely not a recluse,” he told staff writer Nate Penn. “I can’t speak for Hank, but for me, I had my hands full. I didn’t have time to sit down like I am with you. I’m glad I’m doing it now.” Here are some of the highlights:
• On reports that he “hates” and “avidly disdains” the media: No truth to that. That was Bill Madden [of the Daily News]. Look, first of all, I don’t hate anybody. It’s a useless emotion. It accomplishes nothing.
• On whether he always expected to take over the Yankees: My dad would say, “Someday this is going to be yours. We’re counting on you; we’re counting on Hank. I’m not going to want to do this forever.” I don’t know [laughs] if that was true. George was very involved, and he loved it.
• On calling his father by his first name: That’s purely an office thing. I guess when you’re right out of college and working in the office, you don’t want to go around saying [puts on little-boy voice], “Well, Daddy said this. Daddy—” Throughout the course of fifteen years, I think it took on a life of its own here, but certainly not at home. [Steinbrenner adds the he doesn’t call his dad “George” to his face. “That would be completely disrespectful.”]
• On reports that he and Hank weren’t interested in taking over the team: My kids are first for me, and I was very concerned about having to be out of town and miss a lot of their life. That was one of the things I took into consideration when I didn’t step up the way people thought I should. There’s no doubt that everybody, including George, felt that Steve [Swindal, Hal’s former brother-in-law who had a bitter divorce from his sister, Jennifer, last year] would be the one to take over.
• On his father’s involvement with the A-Rod and Joe Torre negotiations and the selection of Joe Girardi to replace Torre: He met with all three [managerial] candidates. He was there for all the Torre things, including the meeting with Joe. He was involved with the initial meetings about A-Rod; he was not there for the meeting with A-Rod and [A-Rod’s wife] Cynthia. But he was involved with every aspect of that meeting and what happened before and what happened after.
• On the Yankees failing to snag pitcher Johan Santana: It’s well publicized in New York that we didn’t agree on that deal. My concerns were economical and financial, and I’m not gonna get into those, but I also had baseball concerns. I didn’t want to get rid of these kids! Boy, the last time we had three young pitchers like Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy, I couldn’t even tell you.
• On whether Brian Cashman’s job is on the line because the deal fell through: No, it’s not. I don’t know where the media gets this stuff sometimes.
• On speculation that the Steinbrenner brothers may sell the team after their father dies: No, we’re absolutely not planning on selling the team.
• On whether “George” still calls the shots: Of course he’s calling the shots. You don’t think I’m crazy enough to make a decision without him, do you?
The Godfather, Part II [GQ]
Earlier: Hank Steinbrenner Talks Himself, Twins Into a Tizzy