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Steinbrenner Welcomes Fatherly Comps, But Makes It Clear ‘I’m My Own Person’

The late George Steinbrenner was known for bold statements and hasty firings. His son has a different approach to running the Yankees.

When it comes to running the Yankees, the proverb “like father, like son” doesn’t exactly apply to George and Hal Steinbrenner.

George, who bought the team in 1973 and died in 2010 at the age of 80, was known for his bold statements, hasty firings, disgust for losing, and the iron fist with which he ran his franchise. Heat of the moment changes and big spending were not uncommon under the Yankees patriarch. That reputation has led to phrases such as “If The Boss were alive…” when the team has struggled on the field or failed to make a costly acquisition in the years since his death.

The situations that have prompted those words have varied, but the implication is always the same: George would not have allowed this to happen.

Hal, the Yankees’ managing general partner, has not governed the team with the same trigger finger since taking over. That has included more stability in regard to personnel turnover and limited spending in accordance with the luxury tax in certain years (though the Yankees have always had one of MLB’s highest budgets under his watch).

Hal called his dad “one of the greatest at what he did,” but he has not operated the organization in the same manner. That doesn’t mean he minds when people invoke his father’s name.

“I’m used to it,” Hal said Thursday morning when asked about comparisons to George. “Look, I’m my own person. We all have pluses and minuses, strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a lot of things that are different between my dad and I. There are also things that are similar.”

“All I can do is do my best, be my own person and make the decisions in the way that I have always made decisions, which is putting as much thought into a decision as possible. Taking the time if I have the time to do just that. There’s no doubt that I’m a little less spur of the moment than he was in a lot of ways. All I can assure everybody is that I do my best and it’s a legitimate question to always ask. It never bothers me. I love the man.”

Hal was asked about comparisons to his dad the day after Yankees fans started a loud “Fire [Aaron] Boone” chant toward the end of Wednesday’s epic loss. Two lengthy rain delays had slashed the size of the crowd by the time Aroldis Chapman surrendered the first grand slam of his career, but that didn’t stop some of the remaining spectators from making their opinions on the New York manager known.

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The loss dropped the fourth-place Yankees to 41-39 on the season. With 80 pedestrian games played, Hal was posed a hypothetical: George would have likely fired Boone—and maybe even GM Brian Cashman—by now if he were still in charge.

Hal didn’t refute that assumption, though he did question the merits of similar midseason moves that George made when he was alive.

“He certainly did that a lot. I think what people forget is that oftentimes it didn’t help, didn’t work,” Hal said. “Oftentimes quite frankly, he was criticized for it. I’m just a believer in seeing an entire body of work from an employee regardless of what department they’re in, and we do that year to year to year.”

In other words, it sounds as if Boone will be permitted to see this season through. Hal, who admitted to being “angry” and bunch of other similar words, did not say if Boone would get a new contract if the Yankees failed to make the playoffs, an increasingly likely scenario. Hal did, however, insist that he is generally not afraid to make changes. He referenced former manager Joe Girardi not being retained.

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Hal just prefers a more patient approach than that of the man who brought him up. For better or worse, that is how this Steinbrenner is going to rule.

“Even if somebody’s in the middle of a contract, at the end of the year I’m going to look at their performance and I’m going to make a decision whether to continue with that person or not,” Hal said. “But doing a knee-jerk reaction to appease this person or that person in the middle of the year when I really don’t think there’s a problem, that’s certainly something I’m not going to do.”

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