Remember Hank Steinbrenner?

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He used to matter.  Or at least he seemed like he did.  He certainly was front and center in the media.  Now? He’s the invisible man.

Which is a great thing for the Yankees — it’s always easier to run an organization when the drama level is low — but it’s a terrible thing for reporters and bloggers and stuff.  I mean, who can forget some of Hank’s greatest hits: 

  • Giving the kiss-off to Alex Rodriguez, saying “I don’t want anybody on my team that doesn’t want to be a Yankee,” and than letting A-Rod come crawling back to him. Sure, he ended up giving Rodriguez a raise, but the drama of it kept us all warm in those dark months of November 2007.
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  • Denouncing Red Sox Nation and ESPN in one fell swoop: “Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bulls**t that is . . . That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans . . .” And give the man bonus points for style: that rant actually got him inducted into Red Sox Nation.
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  • Telling the Tampa Bay Rays and any other have-nots in baseball exactly where they stand: “I don’t want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it’s the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets . . .”  It’s funny, because it’s true!
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  • Personally, my favorite Hank moment was when he played good cop (or maybe crazy cop) to brother Hal and Brian Cashman’s bad cop in the Johan Santana trade discussions with the Twins before the 2008 season. As the Newsday article notes, the Yankees had little actual interest in acquiring Santana, yet because Hank kept going on about it, Minnesota was led to believe that New York would eventually make a big offer. It never came, and the Twins ended up getting not much of anything for the best pitcher in baseball. You can’t train just anyone to negotiate like that. You’re either born crazy or you’re not.
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  • Also classic was when he excoriated the NL for not having the DH following Chien-Ming Wang’s injury while running the bases in interleague play, saying that the senior circuit needed to “join the modern age.”
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  • Finally, who can forget his ripping of the divisional playoff format for allowing a team like the 2008 Dodgers into the postseason while the Yankees sat on the outside looking in. Never mind that under no playoff system dating back to the advent of baseball would the 2008 Yankees have made the postseason.
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    Look, the point isn’t that he was well-advised to spout off on all of these topics.  Indeed, if he were my employee — and he appears to be Hal’s — I would have canned him sometime in late 2007.  The point is that an unleashed Hank Steinbrenner made baseball a lot of fun for a while.  Now that he’s apprently been given a gag order, however, the Yankees are back to being corporate and steady and boring.  As it was in the 50s and as it was after Big Stein’s apparent lobotomy in the mid-to-late 90s, the Yankees are once again U.S. Steel.

    For my part, I was always partial to the Bronx Zoo.  The parade of managers.  The feeling that anything can happen with the New York Yankees.  Now?  The best we get are rumors that  one boring celebrity might marry another.

    Come back, Hank.  We need you.

    It’s OK to not like someone on the team you root for

    St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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    There were a series of interesting comments to the Yadier Molina story this morning. The first commenter, a Cardinals fan, said he’s never really cared for Molina. Other Cardinals fans took issue with that, wondering how on Earth a Cardinals fan could not like Yadi.

    While I’ll grant that Molina is a particularly popular member of the Cardinals, while I personally like his game and his overall persona, and while I can’t recall ever meeting a Cards fan who didn’t like him, why is it inconceivable that someone may not?

    Whether you “like” a player is an inherently subjective thing. You can like players who aren’t good at baseball. You can dislike ones who are. You can like a player’s game who, as a person, seems like a not great guy. You can dislike a player’s game or his personality for any reason as well. It’s no different than liking a type of music or food or a type of clothing. Baseball players, to the fans anyway, are something of an aesthetic package. They can please us or not. We can choose to separate the art from the artist, as it were, and ignore off-the-field stuff or give extra credit for the off-the-field stuff. Dowhatchalike.

    No matter what the basis is, “liking” a player on your favorite team is up to one person: you. And, as I’ve written elsewhere recently, someone not liking something you like does not give you license to be a jackass about it.

    A-Rod’s mansion is featured in Architectural Digest

    Alex Rodriguez
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    For a couple of years people worried if A-Rod would sully the Yankees Superior Brand. Given how they’re playing these days I wonder if A-Rod should be more worried about the Yankees sullying his brand.

    He resurrected his baseball career last year. He’s cultivated a successful corporate identity. He’s in a relationship with a leading Silicon Valley figure. It’s all aces. And now it’s total class, as his home is featured in the latest issue of Architectural Digest:

    Erected over the course of a year, the 11,000-square-foot retreat is a showstopper, with sleek forms and striking overhangs that riff on midcentury modernism, in particular the iconic villas found at Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills. Unlike Rodriguez’s previous Florida home, the Coral Gables house is laid out on just one story so the interiors would connect directly to the grounds. Says Choeff, “Alex wanted to accentuate the indoor-outdoor feel.”

    There are a lot of photos there.

    I don’t think I have much in common with Alex Rodriguez on any conceivable level, but I do like his taste in architecture and design. I’m all about the midcentury modernism. Just wish I had the paycheck to be more about it like my man A-Rod here.

    Video: Yadier Molina does pushups after being brushed back, gets hit

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    The best part of this sequence is not that Molina successfully evaded an inside pitch or that, in doing so, he hit the dirt and did some pushups. It’s not even the part where, after that, het got back up and knocked a single to left field.

    No, the best part is the applause from the crowd. Very respectful fan base in St. Louis. They’d even applaud an opposing player who showed such a great work ethic. Or so I’m told.

     

    Justin Verlander and Kate Upton are engaged

    Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, left, and model Kate Upton pose for a photograph during second half NBA All-Star Game basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
    Associated Press
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    Justin Verlander and Kate Upton have been a couple for a long time. And dudes like me have been writing about them for a long time because, well, Justin Verlander and Kate Upton.

    They’ve fallen a bit off the radar in recent years thanks to Verlander taking a step back from Cy Young contender status and Upton’s profile likewise receding a bit, but if anything that probably helped things out given how hard it probably is to live a life with paparazzi hovering every time you want to out and get a burger or something.

    In any event, those two crazy kids have made it work. Made it work so well that Verlander gave Upton a big fat rock that she showed off at last night’s Met Ball, which is a fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Check it out:

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    When you’re on a $180 million contract you can afford stuff like that, I guess.

    Anyway, it looks like Upton enjoyed the fancy, star-studded gala in New York. I’m sure Verlander had a good time on the Tigers’ off-day in Cleveland. There’s a lot to do in Cleveland if you know where to look.