I knew it. Just knew it. The very first proclamation Hank Steinbrenner made following the unofficial ouster of his father last October went like this: Joba's gonna start. Hank made it clear he wasn't taking a survey on that one, either. He wanted Joba out of the pen, and he was going to get Joba out of the pen.
But then Brian Cashman and the new manager, Joe Girardi, decided otherwise. I remember asking Girardi at his introductory news conference in the Bronx whether he'd be comfortable going against Hank's edict if he believed Chamberlain would better serve the Yanks as a setup man, and Girardi gave a non-answer.
Now we know why he was dancing. Hank only needed 20 games of .500 ball to decree he didn't want Joba and Mo Rivera forming the kind of devastating 1-2 bullpen punch the Yanks used to win their first of four World Series titles under Joe Torre, back when Rivera was setting up John Wetteland. Hank blew up in the Times before Cashman countered that Joba would be staying right where he is.
Sure, Hank is down on Mike Mussina (for good reason) and the kids, Hughes and Kennedy. But I think Josh Beckett is the guy who set him off in the Boston series. Hank is tired of watching Beckett shut down his team, tired of watching him be such a relentless big-game pitcher for the other guys. Beckett reminds Hank of exactly what he doesn't have -- a knock-'em-dead postseason ace -- and of what he might've had in Johan Santana, the stud Cashman advised against acquiring at Minnesota's price.
Santana shutting down the Phils on top of Beckett shutting down the Yanks led Hank to go Mount Steinbrenner on the men in his employ....This was Hank's way of reminding these officials that they are, you know, in his employ, just as much as they were in Boss George's employ.