Thursday, February 24, 2011

Again A Fool

Hank Steinbrenner could learn a lot from Steve Forbes. During one of his countless, ill-fated attempts to secure the Republican nomination for President, Forbes used to like to quip that, "I came by my wealth the old-fashioned way. I inherited it." People would laugh and then shortly thereafter, when it was their state's turn to hold a primary or a caucus, they would turn out in large numbers to vote for candidates other than Steve Forbes. I never voted for Forbes either but I admired his self-deprecating sense of humor. At least he made me laugh on purpose occasionally. I laughed at Alan Keyes' campaign too even though he thought that he was not doing anything to make me.

Hank is of course one half of the Silver Spoon Twins. He and his brother Hal have come by not just their wealth but the most prized possession that it represents the "old fashioned way". Their daddy died and left it to them. Having lived a life of luxury produced at almost zero sweat equity of his own, Hankenstein has developed a rather annoying habit. He has come to believe apparently that because he now owns a team that his father once owned and occupies office space that presumably dear old Dad once occupied, he has in fact become his father. It is a sleight of hand that might be easier to pull off if he would just embrace the notion of keeping either (a) shut or (b) filled with food that enormous pie-hole in the middle of his face. However, once he cannot resist the temptation of marrying sound to what masquerades as thought, his jig is up. Not only does the new emperor have no clothes, he is not in fact an emperor. He is a jester - relocated to a bigger office with a better view.

For reasons known only to Hankenstein, after directing his General Manager (who spent this off-season by the way working on his certificate from the Hosni Mubarak Negotiation Academy) to kick Derek Jeter around a little before signing him to what will likely be his final contract, he decided to jump start Spring Training by kicking Jeter around a bit more. Anyone who knows anything about baseball can explain in five words or less why the Yankees lost the ALCS to Texas last October: the Rangers hit us silly. The defeat was not due to lack of effort or lack of heart. Rather it was due to a lack of a lack of contact. The Rangers spent a week hitting Yankees pitching as if they were playing for the championship of the Greater Good Gulch 40 and over Men's Sunday Slo-Pitch Softball League as opposed to the American League. The only Yankees starter who managed to get anyone out at all was Pettitte. Burnett was brutal. Sabathia was horrid. Hughes was worst of all.

Somehow, the memory of what happened last fall atrophied inside the vast expanse that is Hankenstein's noggin over the off-season. Instead of telling the assembled media in Tampa that his team needed to pitch better in big spots, he blamed last season's flame out on his team's lack of hunger. For good measure he then launched into some mini-rant about the time certain of his players spent in the 2009 off-season building mansions.

The only Yankees player who occupied himself in such a manner in 2009 was Jeter. Of course Hankenstein's suggestion was inane. Jeter spent as much time actually working on the construction of his own home as......well, as Hankenstein has actually spent working at anything for most of his adult life. I think we can also take on faith that Jeter and Minka Kelly are not going to co-host "This Old House" any time in the foreseeable future.

Jeter - as his been his custom his entire Yankees career - did not engage Hankenstein in any sort of tit-for-tat exchange of barbs over the "mansion building" line. One presumes that Jeter knows precisely across whose bow that shot was fired but showing the respect that it owed to the office - the Owner's office - if not the man presently filling space there he chose not to return fire. Good for him. If I wore his shoes, I know not whether I would have responded in kind.

Wealth can buy a lot of things. It cannot buy class. It cannot buy common sense. And as one suspects Hankenstein will come to find out, it cannot buy respect. Respect is earned. But when one has grown to middle-age without having had to "earn" anything, the expiration date on that particular life lesson may very well have already come and gone. Is the new Boss the same as the old Boss? Seems to me that he is more of a caricature than a reproduction of the original.

'Tis the season of the Fool......and April is more than a month away.


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