Suffice to say, Hank Steinbrenner's gonna be a lot of fun in the future.
He's certainly amping up the Sox-Yankees rivalry with strong comments in which he's defended his Yankees as the top dog.
This morning he was in another playful mood and insisted that everything he said was in good fun. One thing he said was that he would never be a member of Red Sox Nation, per the invitation of Sox owner John Henry, who responded to an e-mail to the Boston Herald concerning Steinbrenner's most recent claim that the Yankees were the most popular team in the country.
He also hinted strongly the Sox and Yanks could be future business partners in an undisclosed venture or two down the road. Steinbrenner said he would not go into what that might be, but did rule out a super TV network.
Here are a few things Steinbrenner said this morning at Legends Field prior to the Yanks-Phils game which was also Andy Pettitte's spring training debut:
On John Henry:
"John used to be an owner of the Yankees and he's a great guy. My dad always loved the guy. I love him. Hal loves him. And he's done a tremendous job with the Red Sox. My only point was simple and that is that the Yankees brand is the biggest in the country. And everybody knows that. Obviously it's Yankees Nation. That's not meant as a cut to the Red Sox. In truth. I'm just not saying that to be nice - but John Henry has done an unbelievable job with the Red Sox brand.
All the years he spent away from the team, was he always into the Yanks-Sox rivalry?
"Every Red Sox fan is and Yankee fan is. I can tell you this, we've got a lot in common, too. The Yankees ownership and Red Sox ownership have a lot in common and have a lot of common interests. God, I hate to scare Red Sox or Yankee fans, but you never know we might end up being partners in the future outside of baseball. We have a lot in common. We have a lot in common. In baseball and outside of baseball. Even though the rivalry will always be the greatest rivalry in American sports, you can say that the Yankees and Red sox ownerships are definitely friends. No question."
A possible network?
"No, no, it's not that."
Seems as though the Yankees and Red Sox are going in the same direction trying to introduce younger players.
"I think they're looking at Buchholz and Lester a lot like we're looking at Hughes and Kennedy. They're going to be counting on them at some point as we are with our guys."
Steinbrenner was asked whether he would offer to send Yankee stuff to John Henry in response to the Red Sox Nation invitation.
"I'll respond to the offer of being an honorary member of Red Sox Nation later. He's already got Yankees' stuff. He was a limited partner. He's got the rings," Hank said.
More rivalry comments:
"It's what it is and always will be. It's a strange and unusual situiation. A lot of things in common. Need to stick together on a lot of things but it'll always be a huge rivalry on the field. Even the players respect each other now. I don't see the hatred and the acrimony. I think that's a healthy thing. Respect is a healthy thing. There's Army-Navy and that's a tremendous rivalry but there's a mutual respect."
Steibrenner reiterated, "I'm not gonna join Red Sox Nation - honorary or not. I'll respond to that later. Trust me, I'm never gonna join Red Sox Nation."