In many ways, the George Steinbrenner era ended a few years ago. Sure, there would be a strongly worded call to a reporter from time to time or a statement written by his PR maestro, but the Big Stein of old didn't exist any more. Last season he was only nominally still in charge of the team and, today, he officially ceded control of the franchise.
Love him or hate him, the departure of George Steinbrenner from the owner's box is a big moment in Yankee history. The highlights and lowlights of his reign have been named countless times, but it bears saying that Steinbrenner's team is the most valuable in baseball and have won more World Series than any other franchise since he took over in 1973. We last saw him at July's All-Star Game when he delivered the game ball in a golf cart with his son Hal, who will succeed him on the throne of the Yankee kingdom.
Hal will still have the title of co-chairman, focused on financial and business issues, with his brother Hank, who will still oversee the team's Baseball Operations. Or so the Yankees say. There aren't any operations that are immune to the financial realities of baseball, something Hank makes clear every time he makes one of his ridiculous public pronouncements about how the Yankees will sign every free agent on the planet. Even if he wanted to do that, he'd have to ask Hal for the money which is a pretty good way of knowing who has the most power.
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There's also the little matter of how Hank, verbose as he is, doesn't seem to actually like baseball. He's never at Yankee Stadium, not for the All-Star Game nor the final game of the old park, while Hal is regularly at games and regularly speaking with Brian Cashman. Each man can have whatever title they like, this decision provides the proof of who will settle all arguments, make big decisions and steer the ship into the future. Given what we've seen of each brother so far, Big Stein's final decision was a smart one.