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Under the terms of Steinbrenner's banishment, he was prohibited from talking with anyone in baseball about anything related to the game. Each New York front-office employee was required to sign a sworn statement every six months that he hadn't been in communication with the Boss. Whether Steinbrenner actually had a hand in running the Yankees the last 2½ years may never be known. But what is certain, now that Vincent is gone and the gag order is about to be lifted, is that Steinbrenner has a few stored-up thoughts to share with the world.
•On the "best interests of baseball" clause: "You cannot give the commissioner more power than the President of the United States. You can't give anybody the right to deny others the rights of the Constitution. You can't give that kind of power to one man; not everybody can handle it. The clause needs clear definition—revision, not elimination."
•On Vincent's ouster: "I think the baseball owners, every single one of them, looked at my case and said, 'This can happen to me.' I'm not going to begin spieling statements like 'Vincent's gone, and I'm back.' I will never make them. I'm not prepared to say whether the deal was right or wrong, although I know in my mind that it was wrong."
•On free-agent pitcher David Cone, who got a $9 million signing bonus from the Kansas City Royals: "It's overwhelming. I don't blame him. How would you feel if [Royal owner] Ewing Kauffman put $9 million in cash in front of you and said, 'Come home"? Player compensation is as high as I hope to see it go. Baseball desperately, for its own sanity, must come to the same arrangement as the NBA and NFL—a salary cap."
•On the possibility of increased revenue-sharing among the 28 major league teams, which would mean slicing up the Yankees' $486 million cable-TV package, by far the most lucrative in the game: "This is the end of the interview." Then he laughs.
•On whether he would make a good commissioner: "No! I'm not sure the owners would want me; I seriously doubt that any of them missed me. The problem in the past has been that they don't want a strong leader. The owners have been vilified as a bunch of nincompoops, portrayed as wild Indians running around, characterized as fops. I'm one of them, and I'm not a fop. We must take our time in choosing a new commissioner. We have to go slow this time."
•On how long Showalter will last as Yankee manager: "He's a company man. He's tough. He's detail oriented, and I think he did a very creditable job last year. I expect my managers to pursue excellence; I have little tolerance for [the players'] little errors or lack of execution."
Say no more. The Boss is back.