Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner is "entering his fifth season at the helm," and the N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Mark Feinsand conducted a Q&A with Steinbrenner to discuss rumors of a potential sale, injuries to star players, the need for young players to contribute and other issues. Below are excerpts from their conversation:
Q: Your father seemed to love the spotlight, the back pages and all that New York had to offer, yet you have taken a different approach, especially with the media. Are the two of you that different, or is it a conscious decision? Steinbrenner: I’m sure it’s a difference of personalities, but it’s also a conscious decision. I don’t believe that the owner needs to be front and center and out there all the time. I don’t think that’s one of the most important things to the organization or to the team. But it’s also my personality; I’m a pretty introverted guy. It’s just not something that I’ve ever wanted, to be out there in the spotlight. That’s not me.
Q: Performance-enhancing drugs have been a hot topic in baseball for the past decade or so, and the Yankees have been right in the middle of it. What’s your take on the steroid era and its effect on the sport? Steinbrenner: We’ll see how history judges this particular point in time. It’s a shame. There’s no upside. There’s nothing good about it.
Q: If those young guys don’t take that step forward, will the $189 million [luxury tax threshold] next year be that much more difficult to accomplish? Steinbrenner: Let me say what I’ve been saying: 189 (million) is the goal. It’s absolutely the goal. How many teams the last 10 years have won the World Series with a $200 million payroll? One. One! I don’t believe it’s necessary if you’ve got a good mix of veterans and young talent.
Q: You’ve heard the rumors, most recently after the YES/News Corp. deal, that you’re setting yourself up to sell the team. Can you see any scenario in the near future where your family would sell the Yankees? Steinbrenner: It’s never been talked about, never been considered, no offer even remotely entertained -- and I’m sure there are people out there that would jump all over it. It’s not in the cards. It’s just not something we’re looking at (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/7).
DOLLARS & SENSE: Steinbrenner has stayed true to his goal of reducing payroll to $189M by next season, and ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian said, “I don’t think they can keep up this austerity program that they’re on right now." Kurkjian: "These are the Yankees. They can’t just sit around and not be good." But ESPN’s Curt Schilling said, "These aren’t the George Steinbrenner Yankees. I think those days are gone” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2,3/6).
The Blackhawks won last night to push their record-setting points streak start to the NHL season to 24 games, exactly half of the schedule, and the run has "transcended sports," according to David Haugh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. If you "don't believe an unprecedented number of people are noticing the Hawks, you are ignoring the numbers." Blackhawks Exec VP Jay Blunk said that TV ratings on nets that carry Hawks games "have gone up 80 percent from last year." Retail sales at the Blackhawks Store and within the United Center "have increased 88 percent over a year ago," and sales of C Jonathan Toews' No. 19 jersey "exceeded any other in the NHL during February." The Wall Street Journal recently "requested a credential," while Time magazine "mentioned the Hawks." SI and ESPN also "arrived this week" to cover the team's streak (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/7). ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg notes casual fans "who might have strayed since the Stanley Cup are hooked again, and this team has become a national story, not just a hockey sidebar." Greenberg: "Fans across Chicago are living and dying with each goal, each rebound, every save. Who says regular-season hockey is meaningless?" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/7).
BLACKHAWKS CHANGING NHL NARRATIVE: ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "The NHL is the Blackhawks right now. It’s the only storyline the casual fan cares about." The league "needs them to keep going” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/6). FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch writes the NHL lockout is "already forgotten," as the Blackhawks are saving NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's "backside with their outrageous winning streak." This is the NHL's "Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa moment, at least as close as this league can come." The Blackhawks are giving the NHL "something to look at in the first half of the regular season." That in itself "might be their most amazing accomplishment." The NHL season was "going to go completely unnoticed by everyone except for the puckheads out there." But on Sunday when the Blackhawks tied the Red Wings with two minutes left in regulation, giving NBC a "strong rating, they became a national story" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/7).
WE'RE GOING STREAKING! The Blackhawks' run is still being compared to the Heat's win streak, and Wayne Gretzky said the comparison is "good for the NHL." He said, "That only enhances our sport and makes it bigger and better" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/6). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg noted Heat F LeBron James sent a congratulatory tweet to the Blackhawks after last night's game. Greenberg said, “It’s a great thing for hockey when LeBron James is tweeting at those guys and those guys can get that going.” ESPN’s Mike Golic added, “It’s about the best pub they can get” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 3/7).
Kroenke Sports Enterprises Owner Stan Kroenke recently has been a "lightning rod for frustration from fans of the Nuggets, Avalanche and Rapids," but as far as MLS Commissioner Don Garber "is concerned, the Rapids' ownership is as engaged and invested as any in the league," according to Nick Groke of the DENVER POST. Garber yesterday said, "Without a doubt, Jim Martin (Kroenke Sports president and CEO) and Josh Kroenke (Stan's son, Rapids alternate governor) have gotten more focused on giving the team a lot more resources." He added, "They're running on all cylinders. And the staff that's in place is no different than any of the staff at any of our top teams." Groke: "In soccer circles, though, Stan Kroenke is on the hot seat." Kroenke also owns EPL club Arsenal, which currently is "struggling." Ticket sales with the Rapids "are up." The team said that "season-ticket holders have more than doubled to nearly 4,200." The club "is becoming more relevant." Garber said, "This is a better environment (in Colorado) for this discussion than it would have been three years ago." However, he added that the club "needs to grow its fan base and lure a jersey sponsor" (DENVER POST, 3/7).
In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins wrote the T'Wolves "desperately need a new basketball boss to tackle the big-ticket items that await this summer." The draft timeline for T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn "includes far too many mistakes for any other conclusion." Giving Kahn one more chance would "be bad business and dangerous to the future of this organization" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/6).
FROM PARIS WITH LOVE: In N.Y., Sam Borden notes Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain "suddenly has a credit card with no limit." When Qatar Sports Investment took the club over in '11, cash flow "rocketed the bankroll into a dimension previously unseen in the more modest surroundings of the French league." The club since '11 "has spent more" than $325M on players. While outsiders might "assume that Parisians are soccer fanatics because France is in Europe and Europeans, generally, love soccer, the dots have never connected; PSG is actually the second-most popular team in France." By focusing on its standing abroad, the club is "seeking ... to bypass the local fan." The team has even "changed its logo," which was "symbolic, in many ways, of the larger separation between Paris’s team and Parisians" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/7).
HIGH BILLS EQUAL NO BILLS: The ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE reported a film studio was planning to make a movie about the Bills, and "lights, cameras and actors were all set to descend on" Ralph Wilson Stadium, but "not anymore." The movie, entitled "Draft Day," now will "be shot in Cleveland and be based on the Browns." The Buffalo Niagara Film Commission said that the change "comes down to money." Film studio Lionsgate said that it "wants to go somewhere more affordable than Buffalo." No announcement has been made on how much Lionsgate will be "saving by going to Cleveland" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 3/6).
REELIN' EM IN: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis wrote in an indication of the "difficulty the Marlins are having attracting fans for their second season at Marlins Park, they are offering a free ticket to any game in April or May with the purchase of one to the home opener April 8 against the Braves" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 3/6).