With some notable exceptions — Pat Riley is one for sure, Gregg Popovich is another — there is no more powerful management figure in all of professional sports in this country than Brian Cashman who, for all intentions, shouldn’t even be called the general manager of the Yankees any longer, not when he seems to be working on a lifetime appointment. His title really ought to be Chief Justice Cashman.
But Cash can only be this strong working for one of the weakest owners in professional sports, and that is Hal Steinbrenner. Whether he owns the most famous franchise this country has in sports or not.
But unless Steinbrenner shocks the world now that Cashman’s contract has expired and decides to move on — though Steinbrenner would have no earthly idea who would replace Cashman at that point — nothing changes with the Yankees despite the fact that they haven’t won a World Series since 2009 and have only played in one since 2003.
Cashman and Aaron Boone both met with the media on Friday in an availability that was more like a pillow fight, especially with Cashman. At one point, though, Cashman gave you these two money quotes and let you know exactly how he continues to sell himself and a program that is a winner everywhere except October and now November to Steinbrenner, and with fans of his own team.
“People don’t get let go because of results. If they have a good process, and they’re doing the job well, that’s taken into account,” Cashman said.
He also said this:
“Our ownership is living proof that people are not let go because of results.”
And there it was.
Those words should have been up in lights at an empty Yankee Stadium on the day before the Astros and Phillies would still be playing baseball at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Yankees still like to think they’re some sort of capital of American League baseball because of all the pennants they won in the last century; because they have averaged 93 victories a year since that last World Series in ‘09. It is the Astros, though, who really are the capital of American League baseball, and continue to prove why they are year after year, making it to four World Series in the past six years, beating the Yankees three times in American League Championship Series along the way.
Only with Hal Steinbrenner’s Yankees are people not let go because of results.
This has nothing to with the fact that Cashman is a very nice guy and has been an engaging front office presence for a quarter-century at a time when Leon Rose seems to run the Knicks from the Federal Witness Protection Program and, for the most part, has always been the most accessible New York front office guy since Ernie Accorsi, and George Young before Ernie.
I’ve only been in Hal Steinbrenner’s presence a couple of times. But there isn’t anyone I know who has spent a lot more time with him than that who doesn’t think he is a complete gentleman and somehow who has conducted his adult life in a way that’s been resistant to the bombast and even bullying that defined his father when George Steinbrenner was the one who owned the Yankees, and ran them louder than New York City traffic.
This isn’t about that. Steinbrenner and Cashman and Boone are all good guys. The problem is that the Yankees aren’t great anymore. I’ve pointed out previously that they have become the champions of pretty good. It hasn’t motivated Steinbrenner the son, at least up until now, to consider making a change. But say this about Hal: He must be a bear for that process Cashman talks about.
What the Yankees owner does not do, in any meaningful way, is listen to his own fans. He just continues to go along to get along. Even as Cashman spoke of not having a contract on Friday, he was still the most powerful front office guy around, just between deals at the moment.
And by the way?
Is everything still Boone’s fault for the way the Yankees season ended, and the way the Yankees got swept by the Astros? Really?
They sure do want to talk a lot about injuries at Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees sure did have some injuries at the end. Michael King was one of the stars of the Yankee season before he blew out his arm. But as much as I like King, as a pitcher and as a person, the Yankees didn’t lose Mo Rivera when he went down. And people need to stop treating the loss of DJ LeMahieu as if it were some kind of catastrophe, not after the way he’s declined the past couple of years.
While we’re on the subject? Josh Donaldson (on the books for a $21 million hit this past season) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa didn’t trade for themselves. And shout this again, from the highest seat in the Stadium: When it was all on the line against the Astros, when you lined up the Yankees’ starting lineup against Houston’s, the Yankees had a decided edge at one position: Aaron Judge’s. When he stopped hitting, the Yankees were finished. When Yordan Alvarez, the Astros’ big bopper, stopped hitting, you know who stepped up for them and carried them to the first weekend of November?
Through it all, so much of the Yankee media wants to blame everything except global warming for the difference in talent level between the Astros and the Yankees before they even think about blaming Cashman. They still want to litigate Boone taking Gerrit Cole out of Game 4 too early, a game in which the Yankees got good and shut out, mostly because the kid who became the ace of the Astros staff — Cristian Javier — was better than the Yankees’ $324 million ace and difference maker. Or so Hal Steinbrenner was told.
The Astros continue to produce stars like Jeremy Pena, the shortstop who replaced their previous shortstop star, Carlos Correa. The last everyday star produced by the Yankees is No. 99. And this is all the manager’s fault? It’s his process that’s at fault? It must be the manager who must have fired darts at a dartboard with all the boys and girls from the analytics department deciding which of his three shortstops to play in the postseason.
But it appears that as long as Hal Steinbrenner is in control of the Yankees that Brian Cashman will be in charge of baseball operations. It doesn’t matter what Yankee fans think. It only matters what the owner thinks, and the owner clearly likes things the way they are. His process, until further notice, is the status quo.
But off what we heard Friday, here’s the question most Yankee fans have for the Steinbrenner who now controls their baseball team:
At what point will the only result that used to matter — the World Series — matter again at Yankee Stadium?
KYRIE IS NO VICTIM HERE, DANIEL JONES NEEDS TO PROVE HIS POCKET ABILITY & MAKE SURE TO VOTE …
There is this cockeyed notion out there that Kyrie Irving is being punished for what he thinks.
Except he clearly doesn’t know what he thinks, about anti-Semitism or anything else.
He wanted to be treated like Nelson Mandela last year when he refused to get a vaccine, even knowing the laws of the city and how his decision to remain un-vaxxed was affecting the Nets.
But before he got himself suspended this week, you started to get the idea that he saw himself as a victim all over again.
He did this to himself.
Here’s a heads-up for him:
When the Anti-Defamation League doesn’t want your money, maybe it’s time to re-examine the way you’re conducting your life.
Irving has a lot of co-conspirators over there at the Barclays Center, from owner Joe Tsai on down.
It’s like a Christmas miracle that Sean Marks, the general manager, is still employed.
But the face of the Nets is the man wearing No. 11.
My friend Barry Stanton made a good point about Kyrie the other day, and how much more interesting he’d be if he were as smart as he thinks he is.
I’ve been trying to come up with a worse press conference than the one Kyrie conducted the other day before the Nets did suspend him, but for the life of me I can’t remember one in New York sports.
Everybody knows the qualifiers with Daniel Jones, from the receiving corps to the offensive line.
But when the Giants still had a chance in Seattle, when they’d driven the ball down and had a chance to make it a one-score game, he couldn’t get them into the end zone.
And still makes you wonder if, even when he does get more blocking, if he’s ever going to be comfortable as a pocket passer.
Which you still need to be, if you want to be regarded as a great quarterback someday.
But you know who looks as if he does have the ability to be regarded as a great quarterback one of these days?
Jalen Hurts, is who.
If you care about the future of this country, you can’t sit out this election.
You need to get out and vote on Tuesday.
Because guess what?
All the people telling you that it’s really democracy on the ballot this time are absolutely right.
I saw this on Twitter the other day from @Knicksmuse:
In the Knicks last 6 games, they are 3-3.
In the Knicks last 30 games, they are 15-15.
In the Knicks last 134 games, they are 67-67.
In the Knicks last 154 games, they are 77-77.
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of spotting a trend there.
Herschel Walker’s candidacy is the Brooklyn Nets of U.S. Senate campaigns.