Most fans of Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees believe that the most decorated franchise in all of professional American sports will shell out whatever money is necessary to make sure two legendary icons retire in Pinstripes. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are both free agents, and though the Yankees have deep enough coffers to reward both stars for past performance, the Yankees have to be somewhat restrained and intelligent with how they manage the potentially delicate contract negotiations. On the one hand, you want to make sure that the Yankees’ loyal fans aren’t heart-broken by either one’s departure, yet you don’t want to compromise the likelihood of fielding a winning squad for years to come just to appease the nostalgic tendencies of fans in the short term.
On Tuesday, owner Hal Steinbrenner joined Mike Francesca on WFAN to talk about the upcoming free agency period, the organization’s basic philosophy heading into FA, as well as his reactions and response to the inappropriately critical comments made by Texas Rangers’ owner Chuck Greenberg about fans at Yankees Stadium. Excerpts from the interview are below. (Full transcription here via SRI).
On how high a priority re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are:
“Well look, Derek and Mo, we’re obviously hoping they are life-long Yankees. They’re great leaders, they’re great Yankees. But having said that, we’re running a business here. So if there’s a deal to be done, it’s going to have to be a deal that both sides are happy with, and I’ve said that before. So how long that takes may be frustrating to the fans, maybe it won’t. But we definitely want them back. obviously there’s no doubt about that.”
On if there’s extra interest in re-signing Jeter because of how much he’s meant to the organization and Yankees brand:
“Well look, like I said, he’s one of the greatest Yankees of all time, no doubt about it. But at the same time, I’m running a business. I have responsibilities. Hank and I are responsible to our partners, so on and so forth. So we have to remain somewhat objective, and we’re going to do that. I want to get a deal done that he’s happy with, and that I’m happy with.”
On Chuck Greenberg’s disparaging comments about the Yankees’ fanbase:
“Well we found out about it when news broke, we were in these meetings. Completely inappropriate, ridiculous, our fans are the greatest in the world, and we were somewhat shocked, but also angry, as all of you were. So we got on the phone with the commissioner’s office and told them we’re absolutely going to respond, and in an aggressive way. We agreed to wait until after the game so as not to disturb the series. But the bottom line is within an hour of the news breaking, Chuck was reaching out to us, and I had a conversation with him a few hours before the game started, and he’ll be the first one to admit his statements were, just as I said, ridiculous if not stupid. He apologized in what I think was a sincere way. I’m only talking to him over the phone, but I definitely feel he was sincere about that. But what we told him was it’s great you’re apologizing to us, you need to apologize to the fans. They’re the ones you’ve wronged. There’s just no excuse for it. So he did. Now it’s going to be up to each individual fan I guess to read his statement and find it sincere or not sincere. But that’s kind of where we are.”