Hank Steinbrenner is back in the news. You knew it was only a matter of time before he returned to the headlines; his Yankees have struggled mightily of late, losing four straight (before last night's extra inning affair against Minnesota), and found themselves nine games back in the AL East (and five back in the wild card race) heading in to Tuesday night.
You knew it was time for a Steinbrenner lashing in the media. Except he did quite the opposite.
He was reasonable.
Said a strangely calm Steinbrenner:
"I'm not writing off this season, they're trying hard to win. There's only so much you can do. They're not supermen. "I think it's very simple, we've been devastated by injuries. No team I've ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team. Imagine the Red Sox without Beckett and Lester. Pitching is 70 percent of the game. Wang won 19 games two straight years. Chamberlain became the most dominating pitcher in baseball. You can't lose two guys like that."
Fair enough. And yes, I know; All teams deal with injuries. I watched Mike Greenberg and Buster Olney on Mike and Mike declare that nobody feels sorry for New York. But no matter how you feel, multiple, devastating injuries will ruin any team's season. Firing someone doesn't fix every problem, and it doesn't seem like Hank Steinbrenner is going to do that this time around.
But in the most un-Steinbrenner-like statement ever uttered, he sounded as if he's throwing in the towel on 2008:
"We're going to win it next year. If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, we'll do that. We'll do whatever we need to do. Next year we'll be extremely dangerous."
So what does it mean? Next year, every free agent who can throw a baseball remotely close to home plate from the mound will start 2009 in pinstripes. Next year, maybe the injury bug will bite someone else.
It's funny, really. I never even knew there was a "next year" in New York.
In other Bad Baseball news from Tuesday night...
The Red Sox beat the Rangers 19-17. That's 36 combined runs on 37 combined hits. There's no sense in picking out any one bad performance, it was all ugly . . . The Yankees beat the Twins in the 12th inning when Minnesota reliever Matt Guerrier allowed three runs on four hits . . . The Astros scored eight runs in the seventh to beat the Giants. San Francisco relievers Tyler Walker and Jack Teschner combined to allow six runs on five hits without recording an out. Awesome.