THE YANKEES' off-season was to begin officially on Tuesday, when the team's brass was to gather in Tampa for a week of meetings. The execs have many questions to ponder, not the least of which is whether to bring back manager Joe Torre. There are also the futures of free-agents-to-be Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada to decide, and a determination of how much Alex Rodriguez will be worth if he opts out of his $252 million contract and which external free agents the Yankees should pursue. Whatever happens, all of baseball will be affected.
Yet only one thing seemed clear before the meetings: For the first time since George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973, his would not be the sole voice of authority in the room. On Sunday the New York Post reported that the 77-year-old Steinbrenner was turning over daily control of the team to his sons, Hank (above, right), 50, and Hal (above, left), 38. "He's been saying for years he's wanted to get his sons involved in the family business," team president Randy Levine told the paper. "Both of them have stepped up and are taking on the day-to-day duties."
The succession began this past season. With their father reportedly in failing health, Hank and Hal began taking more active roles. G.M. Brian Cashman has said he spoke to the Steinbrenner sons more this year than in his previous nine years on the job, and last month Hal was elected chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, the team's umbrella company.
Steinbrenner's sons will operate with contrasting styles: Hal is said to be extremely reticent, while Hank has more of his father in him. "I tend to be more volatile than my brother," Hank told the Post. He also echoed the eldest Steinbrenner by making a pronouncement for next year. Asked if rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain will join the rotation or stay in the bullpen, where he was dominant, Hank said that Chamberlain would start. "That," he said, "is something I'll insist on."