SI's Jon Heyman is reporting that "sources say" that Steinbrenner is most displeased at the Yankees' slow start. According to these same sources, the Boss didn't show up at the Yankees' two games in Tampa this week because "he didn't want to talk publicly about his floundering club." Steinbrenner's spokesman Howard Rubenstein said that Steinbrenner said that he's not speaking out publicly out of fairness to Cashman and Torre. "I've got to hang back," Rubenstein reported Steinbrenner as telling him . . . What he's saying privately I won't discuss."
Based on the rest of Heyman's reporting, as well as other reports about him in recent months, it is plainly obvious that Steinbrenner is not a well man. Certainly physically, given at least two episodes in which he collapsed in public, though his silence during his brief public appearances and the fact that everything he purports to say anymore comes through a layer of spokesmen implies that he's unable to handle public appearances, suggesting that the problem is more than just physical. Senility? I have no idea, and neither Heyman nor others who have covered this in recent months are willing to go there. There seem to enough hints in their writing, however, to make me believe they have the information and would say so if it weren't for cautious editors.
It's simply not like Steinbrenner to let others do the talking for him, and Rubenstein's reports of the Boss' sentiments ring false. Even if Steinbrenner were to suddenly repudiate his outspoken nature and instead chose to work through surrogates, don't you think he'd have something more colorful to say than "I've got to hang back"? My guess is that he'd be loudly wondering if Jeter would have fewer errors this season if he spent more time doing knee bends and less time doing Jesica Biel. He'd probably have deliciously degrading nicknames for each of his rookie starters and would have issued a sarcastic press release about how he's installing a handicapped ramp for Pavano.
The only appropriate way for a world-class piece of work like George Steinbrenner to go is of a sudden, massive aneurysm, suffered in mid-sentence during a bombastic tirade against his manager, his star player, the Red Sox, and Major League Baseball. It therefore saddens me deeply to see the people around him covering up his condition and trying to make it seem like he's still at the controls while he slowly circles the drain.