New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who turns 75 on Monday, answered questions from The Associated Press submitted to him through spokesman Howard Rubenstein:
Q: As you approach 75, do you think you've mellowed at all since buying the Yankees in 1973, and is the stability in the dugout and GM position over the past decade due more to success on the field or to more patience by you?
A: I suppose that I have - as you get older, everyone mellows to a certain extent. Due in part to success on the field. Brian Cashman was hired by me when he was a young kid, and I am very satisfied with the job that he has done. Joe Torre is an excellent manager and has done a great job for me. Unfortunately, I cannot find any excuse for the way that the team is playing this year. My patience is a little short because the team is not performing up to its great capabilities. The players HAVE to want to win as much as I do.
Q: How do you think your father would judge your tenure as Yankees owner?
A: I can't answer this question. I hope that he would have been proud of me, but you never know. I don't look back and think about how he would judge me. He was very happy when I bought the Yankees and he very much enjoyed being a part of it. As I have said many times - my father was a great fan of Bill Dickey's and he certainly loved the Yankees. I hope that he would be pleased.
Q: What do you view as your most important contributions to major league baseball?
A: I find it difficult to focus on any single thing. I haven't always done a good job and I haven't always been successful - but I know that I have tried. I am an owner that has cared about my people - people that have worked with me and for me - and I care about the Yankees fans a great, great deal. Our fans come from New York, New Jersey and from all over the country and world. On a daily basis, I receive letters and photographs from Yankees fans from all over the globe, and from that standpoint I feel that I have contributed something. I hope that our fans know that they have an owner that really cares about them and wants to do well for them.
Q: What do you view as your biggest successes in running the Yankees and your biggest mistakes?
A: I think that a hands-on approach is very important. You have to know your ballplayers and who has the ability and the intense hunger and drive to win. You have to try to put a great team together.
Q: What would you have done differently?
A: I haven't always made the right decision. When I was younger, I was a bit impatient and I made a few moves and decisions that in retrospect I shouldn't have made. But I have tried to go back and rectify those moves and mistakes.
Q: How much longer do you envision yourself running the Yankees?
A: I love what I am doing, so I will not speculate.
Q: At the stadium announcement news conference in June, you sounded as if you were designating Steve Swindal as your eventual successor in running the Yankees. Is that the case, and if it is, why him instead of any of your sons or daughters?
Q: Yes, Steve will be my successor. I also have other sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law coming along and they will remain involved. As I have said many times, "You must let the young elephants into the tent."
Q: What are the differences between the public image of George Steinbrenner and the reality?
A: I'm really 95 percent Mr. Rogers, and only 5 percent Oscar the Grouch.
Q: Have you slowed down since that fainting spell in Sarasota?
A: Only to a certain extent. I work out regularly and religiously, one hour every day. I lift weights, run and watch my diet. I still go to the office every day. I can't say that I have actually slowed down very much. I'm actually in the best shape that I have been in for a very long time.
Q: Do you agree with those who say major league baseball has competitive balance problems and if so, what would you do to solve them?
A: I do not agree that we have competitive balance problems in baseball. Between revenue sharing and the draft we are tapped very hard. We never get to draft from the top like everyone else does, so we rarely get the top players. So we have to do a better job scouting. This year our top player was from Putnam City High School in Oklahoma. He's a great shortstop and a great athlete. Our scouts work very, very hard - perhaps even doubly hard, and I depend on them. So the guys that constantly complain about competitive balance should take a long hard look at how the Yankees have to make their selections. Let the Yankees have the first-round draft pick every year, and let's see how well we do.
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