McDonald: Hal Steinbrenner’s Hands-Off Approach Makes Him The Perfect New York Owner

Hal Steinbrenner was not part of the process in hiring Aaron Boone. He didn’t need to be.

That’s why he pays Brian Cashman.

Instead the Yankees managing general partner stood on the sideline, listened to his baseball people and signed off on Aaron Boone becoming the 33rd manager of the New York Yankees.

“Quite frankly, I had a long call with everybody involved in those meetings after everyone and then at the very end when all the interviews were done,” Steinbrenner said. “There was a difference of opinion among the participants as to who their No. 2 or No. 3 choice was, but there was little to no difference of opinion as to who their No. 1 choice was. It wasn’t even close, in their words.

“When I get a recommendation that strong, I didn’t feel …”

You don’t even need to complete that statement.

Steinbrenner has become the type of New York owner every fan loves. He doesn’t treat the Yankees like his personal toy and doesn’t think he knows more baseball than his baseball professionals. Instead, he lets them make the decisions, while setting the budget and giving Cashman the resources he needs to put a competitive product on the field.

That’s unique in this town, where you see billionaires buy teams and automatically think because they have been successful elsewhere, they are prepared to get involved in the everyday operations of the team.

We have seen time and time again that this doesn’t work. Jeff Wilpon gets criticized with the Mets for his medaling, while James Dolan thinks owning a cable company makes him a basketball expert. Same for Woody Johnson in football.

If any owner should think they have the cache to run a franchise, it’s Steinbrenner. He grew up with it, the same way John Mara was born into the Giants.

However, Steinbrenner and his brother and sisters have chosen differently. The oversee rather than run the club. Because why have Cashman as general manager if you want to run the show yourself?

Frankly, it’s worked extremely well for the club, as the general manager’s rebuild – if you want to call it that – brought the team into a game of the World Series.

As for Boone, sure he doesn’t have any managerial experience, but outside of Ron Gardenhire, every other manager hired this off-season lacked time running a dugout. That includes Mickey Callaway with the Mets and Alex Cora in Boston, the two teams the Yankees directly compete with in market and division, respectively.

Boone, though, looks like he can be a winner here. He said all the right things and t least gave a very nice first impression. He is well polished with the media, thanks to his time with ESPN and that should also give him the ability to communicate with the young players that populate the Yankee clubhouse.

Cashman saw it and so did his people. There was no need to go any further.

“We interviewed six candidates, and after the six that we went through, I did not feel that there was a need to continue,” Cashman said. “I announced, ‘Pencils down, time to make recommendations,’ and at that point we had done a final assessment with my staff and determined that Aaron was the candidate that we were comfortable with.

“Now it just came down to would ownership being comfortable with our recommendation? That’s what we had to determine, and they were after a lot of dialogue with Hal and his family. We gave them some time to think through it and digest it, and they green-lighted it.”

There was no need to Boone to fly to Tampa. There was no steak dinner disguised as an owner’s interview. Steinbrenner heard enough from the people he trusts.

“There was little to no difference in opinion to who everybody’s first choice would bet,” Steinbrenner said. “It was almost unanimous by a lot, in some of the participants’ own words. That was good enough for me, given who was in the room (interviewing Boone) and how much I trust them.”

Hal Steinbrenner is not like his father. He is more reserved and guarded. When he speaks to the media, he picks his words carefully. That may not make headlines, but that’s okay.

Instead his approach allows Cashman the tools he needs to grow the franchise.

It happened with the roster last year and now with the manager. Ultimately, that trust will hopefully bring another championship to the Bronx with Steinbrenner and his family doing it their way.

Right now, that approach looks like the right one in New York.  

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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