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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: No Decisions Are BAD Decisions

by Paul Semendinger

August 10, 2023


The Yankees keep giving me TONS to write about....

In my career, I have mentored many teachers and school administrators. One of the lessons I teach them is that as a leader (and, to be clear, teachers are also leaders) when you don't make decisions, you are making a decision. When the time comes to act decisively, you either act, or you don't, but by not acting, you send a very clear message and by not making a decision, you are, in fact, also making a decision.

Often times the message you send by not acting is one of weakness. This does not help one when he or she is running a district, a school, or a classroom. Weakness is not celebrated. Weakness is often something that others take advantage of.


Bob Klapisch had an article yesterday that makes Hal Steinbrenner look weak. The article, linked HERE, demonstrates, clearly, what is wrong with the Yankees. I speculated on this the other day, and it seems that my thoughts are being proven correct - Mr. Steinbrenner does not hold all his employees accountable.

In short, Brian Cashman can feel free to make decisions knowing there will be no repercussions. He knows that bad decisions do not threaten his job. And, unfortunately, over the last few years, Brian Cashman has made a host of bad decisions. The problem is, he is not held accountable for any of them.

(As I write this, the Yankees are in sole possession of last place in the American League East. They have won one series since July 1. They are 5.5 games out of the final wild card spot.)

It matters little that the Yankees are going in the wrong direction. The Boss does not want to hold his employees accountable for the poor work they have done over the last several years. That is not going to make things better for the Yankees. It is going to lead to the team continuing going in the wrong direction.

Brian Cashman has not been doing a good job. Aaron Boone has not been doing a good job. But, my take after reading Kalpisch's article, is that the person doing the worse job, unfortunately, is Hal Steinbrenner.

If Yankees fans are expecting the Yankees to turn this all around next year, there is little hope without a change of leadership and accountability. Neither seems likely at this point.

Here are some key quotes from the article:

"The idea (of firing Cashman) isn’t even on the table. It’s not up for discussion.”

"The Young Boss is loathe to make a managerial change unless absolutely necessary. And even then a sacking isn’t guaranteed. Boone apparently will be given every opportunity to resuscitate the Yankees over the final 48 games. Although they’ve essentially been a .500 team (89-84) since August 1, 2022, Steinbrenner continues to hold out hope for a winning streak that’ll erase a summer of mediocrity."

"The safety net, according to another voice in Steinbrenner’s orbit, is the owner’s wish to avoid tough choices and stay out of the spotlight."

“Firing people is not in Hal’s nature,” the person said. “To this point, he’s been content to let Cashman make the decisions. He trusts him. And he happens to like Boone personally, too.”

They key phrase in all of that is this one, " the owner’s wish to avoid tough choices."

I have news for Mr. Steinbrenner. It's his job to make tough choices.

Leaders have to make tough decisions. It seems that Hal Steinbrenner would rather make no decision than to hold Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone accountable for the disaster that the Yankees have become.

The other key phrase, is this one, which I did not quote above because it needs its own focus:

"The Yankees still lead the American League in attendance. The YES ratings are equally strong. And the Bombers still have a mathematical chance at the third wild card spot. Meanwhile, they’ve withstood crosstown owner Steve Cohen’s challenge to make the Mets the No. 1 team in this market. Those successes all weigh heavily in Cashman’s favor."

When fans complain that all Steinbrenner cares about is the money (and not winning) that perspective seems to have some truth to it.

The Yankees used to be about winning. That philosophy started way before George Steinbrenner. It's been part of the Yankee way since the arrival of Babe Ruth. Or, at least it was.

Today, it seems everything about the Yankees has changed. If the attendance is good, if the TV revenue remains high, (if the Starr Insurance patch helps the bottom line), it seems that the owner will be content to stay the course.

The Yankees philosophy now seems to be, "Who needs championships?"

As I have warned, though, once a brand is destroyed, it is very difficult to bring it back. The fans might be coming right now, but many of those people are ones that grew up with championships or who shared those experiences with their own children. As for the fans of tomorrow, well, they might not be there.

Let's put it this way, if you were nine years old, would you fall in love with this team?

The Yankees, as a franchise, are at a crossroads. This is a critical time not for the 2023 Yankees, or the 2024 Yankees, but for the long term health of the franchise.

Young fans today don't care about Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera or championships in the 1990s and before. All of that is as relevant to them as Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio or Babe Ruth. It's all ancient history. Fans want to see their team win. They want to see their players with the trophies. And there is generation of fans growing up that have never seen the Yankees win a World Series. In the last 20 years, the Yankees have been to one World Series. The era of Yankees greatness is over. Without big changes, it isn't coming back soon. A brand can only live on its past for so long, and I fear, for the Yankees, that day is coming soon.

It is time for Hal Steinbrenner to make the decisions he is loathe to make...

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