Jonathan Mahler, author of The Bronx is Burning, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine, has a long profile on the Steinbrenner clan in the latest issue of Play. It is a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the changes that have taken place in the Yankee organization over the past calendar year. Mahler paints Hank and Hal Steinbrenner as we’ve come to know them–good cop, bad cop. It is interesting that Hank rebelled against his father and yet often sounds a lot like The Boss. Witness this bit at the end of the piece:
“Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”
I agree with part of Hank Steinbrenner’s statement. I think Red Sox Nation is a pompous, self-aggrandizing term (though I’m guilty of using the phrase in this space numerous times over the years), one that has been pumped up by the Red Sox organization, many of their fans, as well as ESPN and other media outlets. But I’m not so sure that you don’t see Red Sox hats all over the country these days. The bandwagon is in full-effect (as is a Sox bashlash). What the Red Sox are not–and correct me if I’m wrong–is an international team. You’ll probably find more Yankee hats worldwide than that of any other sporting team. That doesn’t mean that there are so many actual Yankee fans out there, just that the Yankee hat is a symbol of New York and New York is an international city in a way that Boston is not.
Regardless, the quote from Hank made me think: What’s the over/under on how many cringe-worthy statements Hank Dog will make this year? I say it’ll be under a dozen, but there will be some doosies in there. Either way, I don’t entirely dislike Hank’s bluster because it is a reminder of his old man (man, I never thought I’d say that!).