I listened to Mike Francesca’s interview with Hal today
, and was struck by how much more self-assured the Yankees’ big cheese sounded. He wasn’t full of his father’s bluster by any means, but he was no longer the reluctant boss. When Francesca brought up Jeter and Mo and whether signing them was a foregone conclusion, Hal made the expected noises about how much he wanted to bring them back, how they should always remain Yankees, blah blah. But he also said – twice – “but we’re running a business here.”
My heart kind of dropped when he used those words. I’m not naive enough to think there’s no budget and I realize that Jeter and Mo, while icons, aren’t young. But I got the feeling that Hal isn’t planning to write any blank checks or offer long-term contracts. In fact, I started to panic. What if the Yankees can’t come to terms with their two legends? Is that humanly possible?
Putting Mo aside for now (we need a closer and there’s no one better), I came up with five value-added ways to keep Jeter around when he can’t play shortstop or swing a bat. I pulled these from a blog post I wrote in February ’09 and they’re still options as far as I’m concerned.
1) Jeter is given an ownership stake in the team, becomes a Steinbrenner Son along with Hal and Hank, and changes his first name to Harvey.
2) He becomes “The Yankee Emeritus,” walking onto the field at the end of every game, just prior to Sinatra singing, and making a “Thank-you-for-being-such-great-fans” speech”, like the one he delivered at the finale of the old Stadium.
3) He relinquishes his endorsements of cars and cologne and instead pitches products geared for his own demographic.
4) He becomes chairman of the Yankees Assisted Living Facility, a luxurious compound for active seniors near Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
5) He purchases all the food for the Yankees restaurants.
I realize these ideas sound cruel and heartless, but remember: Hal is running a business here.