How far does Steinbrenner share the blame for the Yankees’ tragic postseason?

Hal Steinbrenner

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Last year, Hal Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, criticized his players in public for not doing well enough. The son of George Steinbrenner said he was upset, frustrated, and angry with the players brought together by GM Brian Cashman and led by manager Aaron Boone for not acting like a motivated and cohesive team.

Steinbrenner then made MLB headline when he said:

“The majority of the responsibility, whether it’s inconsistent offense or bad baserunning, that responsibility lies with the players. They’re the ones on the field. They need to fix this problem … because everyone, including our fan base, rightfully so, has had enough quite frankly. It’s enough.”

Even after more than 15 months, the fans are still fed up. Customers who booed Steinbrenner at events honoring Paul O’Neill and Derek Jeter are scared of seeing the Yankees failing in October. These fans are sick and tired of an organization that spends as much time making excuses as it does looking for solutions.

It’s been a crying shame in sports for a long time that team owners get to fire everyone and never get fired themselves. Owners love to say that accountability starts at the top of a company, at least until something goes wrong and it’s time to figure out who’s to blame.

Fans are tired of Hal Steinbrenner being in charge. After the Astros finished their sweep of the ALCS in The Bronx on a rain-delayed Sunday night, making it 13 years in a row that the Yankees haven’t made it to the World Series. But Steinbrenner was lucky that no one could call him into the office with the bad news.

After the ALCS debacle, fans wanted the Yankees to say goodbye to Boone and Cashman. But it fell on the deaf ears and Steinbrenner, the owner, made his choice clear — both Boone and Cashman are going to stay.

Boone is a nice guy and a good manager, but he failed to make the Yankees great. When a smart NFL team can no longer imagine its starting quarterback holding the Lombardi Trophy, it starts looking for a new quarterback right away. But Steinbrenner is indifferent.

Can anyone now imagine Boone holding up a World Series trophy? Does the manager give you any reason to believe in him after his bullpen decisions in Game 3 against the Guardians and Astros and after he said that an open roof at Minute Maid Park helped the Astros to win Game 2?

Cashman is a more complicated case because he won four championships early on and has been able to get the Yankees into the playoffs every year for the past 25 years. But the situation with his boss is clear-cut. Steinbrenner deserves credit for the Yankees winning the World Series in 2009 and for all of the frustrating playoff losses that have happened since then.

This is about the way he has changed the team’s attitude. When his father was alive, it was all about the playoffs and parades. Now, it’s mostly about the balance sheet. Does Hal Steinbrenner want to win? Everyone wants to win, that’s true.

But he doesn’t have the same drive to win as his father did. He wants to play the game without spending more than he can afford.

“Look, it’s a consideration,” Steinbrenner told, “That’s my job every year, to make sure we’re financially responsible. We’ve got a lot of partners and banks and bond holders and things that I answer to. At the same time, it’s always our goal to field a championship team.”

Pay close attention to those words. George M. Steinbrenner was a person with a lot of big problems. He was suspended twice, and from the 1980s to the 1990s, he was in charge of a terrible time for the team. In his absence, Gene Michael and Buck Showalter rebuilt the Yankees. All of that will always be on his record.

But the boss was also responsible for six World Series titles and for making everyone in his team, including the players, feel like they had to win every day or else. One of George Steinbrenner’s longtime assistants told him, “Well, you can’t win every year, Boss,” after a particularly painful playoff loss.

“Why the f— not?” was his answer.

Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t have the same desire or stomach for a fight. He hasn’t put as much work into the family business. He is the boss of a $6 billion empire, which is worth more than any American sports team except the Dallas Cowboys, but he doesn’t use his money to crush the competition.

Steinbrenner came up empty on the same day when Bryce Harper, a star free agent he didn’t sign, hit the Phillies into the World Series. Steinbrenner was hardly ever seen around Yankee Stadium.

Over the years, people like James Dolan, Fred Wilpon, and, until very recently, Woody Johnson have covered for him. But no longer. The program Hal Steinbrenner is running is broken, and it’s too bad that he can’t be fired for that.

Is he really going to be okay with a pattern where the Yankees are good enough to beat a weak team from the AL Central in the playoffs and then go into the fetal position when the level of difficulty in October goes up?

Steinbrenner needs to look at whether his requests to cut spending at certain times led to more money being spent.

Does he have to wonder whether Brian Cashman, whose contract expires at the end of this month, has to be removed or shaken up in his baseball operations group? With a changed GM, manager, and roster, the Astros defeated the Yankees to win the AL pennant in 2017. They’ve matured despite defeating the deteriorating Yankees in 2017, ’19, and now ’22.

Does Steinbrenner need to reevaluate whether Aaron Boone is a good enough strategist to win real-time battle after real-time battle in the postseason after getting a three-year extension? Getting kicked out for close calls on balls and strikes is not enough.

Steinbrenner will have to decide how deep he wants to go into the family bank account to keep Aaron Judge, who has been the face of the Yankees for the past six years, even though they haven’t been able to win the World Series. Judge had one of the best regular seasons ever, but then he had a terrible playoff run. If he left, the team would lose a lot of talent and charm. But how far will Steinbrenner go?

Do you agree that Steinbrenner is also responsible for the Yankees ALCS loss?

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