MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Hal influenced by The Boss, but has his own methods

Hal influenced by The Boss, but has his own methods

That improbable comeback by the Royals over the Athletics in the American League Wild Card Game continues to stir our baseball souls. Come to think of it, given the splendid flow of drama during the regular season, you just know there will be more of the same through the rest of October in ballparks from Los Angeles to St. Louis to Baltimore.

Not in New York, though.

More specifically, not in the House That Jeter Just Left.

It's still jarring to know that the Yankees are out of the playoffs for a second straight year. As a result, team co-owner Hal Steinbrenner did exactly what his late father, George, would have done: Hal apologized to the legion of fans who bleed pinstripes.

"We did not do the job this year," Hal told a New York radio station this week. "We know what you expect of us, and we expect the same of ourselves."

Yeah, but what else would George do? The Boss, who left primary control of the Yankees to his sons, Hal and Hank, died in July 2010. The elder Steinbrenner spent nearly four decades with the Yankees as the most demanding owner in the history of professional sports. He had 21 managers (including Billy Martin five times), and he had 11 general managers.

"I don't think it is a news flash that I am different than George in a lot of ways," Hal said. "He was better at many things than me, but I do tend to be a little less rash when it comes to firing people. I want to make sure that what went wrong was for a reason. It was wrong because of that one individual or two individuals or whatever. I will get through that process before anything like that, as opposed to any kind of knee-jerk reactions."

So we're back to the question: What else would George do? And here's an even bigger one: What should Hal do?

For one, George would fire general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi without hesitation. Instead, Hal is negotiating a new contract for Cashman. Since Cashman became the Yankees' GM in 1998, the team has captured four World Series championships and six AL pennants. Cashman didn't lose his baseball savvy overnight. Hal knows that, and Hal also knows the same about Girardi, the former Yankees catcher who has been efficient throughout his seven seasons as the Yankees' manager.

Girardi kept the Yankees competitive this year despite an epidemic of injuries, especially to the starting pitching staff. Girardi still had the Yankees contending for a playoff spot in mid-September.

What else would George do? Well, he would turn some combination of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran into his modern-day Dave Winfield. During the 1980s, when Winfield performed below George's expectations, The Boss compared his Baseball Hall of Fame-bound outfielder to former Yankees great Reggie Jackson, who was called "Mr. October."

George called Winfield "Mr. May."

In contrast, Hal didn't rip any of his players this season. He suggested to that New York radio station that, as a macro manager (as opposed to George, who was the ultimate micro manager), he'd rather allow his general manager and manager to play good cop and bad cop. No worries there. On the same day that Derek Jeter capped his glorious farewell to Yankee Stadium with a game-winning hit, Girardi had a serious meeting with his players about their season-long play.

The owner wasn't around.

"I don't make rash decisions," Hal said. "I want to talk to all my people, including long discussions with Cashman, and really get into if anything could've been different, or did these guys just have a down year, these three or four guys."

That means Hal won't do something else that George would do: Dismiss batting coach Kevin Long. Even though the Yankees acquired the historically good bats of McCann, Beltran and Ellsbury before the season, the Yankees scored the third fewest runs in the league. But Girardi keeps telling Hal and others that this is the same Long who was the batting coach five years ago when the Yankees were the Bronx Bombers.

Hal trusts his manager. Not only might George have Girardi gone by now, but George might have overshadowed the rest of the playoffs by adding as much smoke as possible to rumors that he was seeking to replace Girardi with Orioles manager Buck Showalter or Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Both Showalter and Mattingly are managing in the playoffs right now, and while Showalter is a former Yankees manager, Mattingly is a former Yankees star.

Remember? George also loved controversy -- at least the kind that he thought gave an edge (mentally and otherwise) to the Yankees. So you just know he would embrace the projected return to the Yankees of Alex Rodriguez next year.

"[Rodriguez] is working very hard as we speak," Hal said. "He always comes into camp fit, so we know that is going to be the case. But he is also the age that he is at. I don't have any expectations. When he is healthy, he is an asset."

That sounded like George.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.