Frustrated by the Yankees’ early playoff exits in 2010 and 2011, Hank Steinbrenner employed an unprecedented tactic to get his message across for the upcoming season, sending each player on the active roster a shipping crate full of tickets to the 2011 World Series, a game the Yankees players watched from their living rooms.
The front office was set to recycle the tickets, which are secretly printed every Spring Training with the opposing team’s name left blank. Enter Steinbrenner, whose penchant for bluster has no rivals. He devised the diabolical scheme to underscore his expectations for his players.
Some were amused.
“I crack up every time I see them,” said right fielder Nick Swisher. “The dude’s off the hook.”
“I wallpapered my kid’s room with them,” said first baseman Mark Teixeira. “Loud and clear, boss man, loud and clear.”
Some, not so much.
“It’s kind of creepy, to be honest,” said center fielder Bret Gardner. “The man needs help.”
“It’s not a horse head in bed, but it’s close,” said right hander Phil Hughes.
“I wasn’t even here last season, and I just got one,” said newly signed right hander Hiroki Kuroda, shaking his head.
“Can you hear me now?” quipped Steinbrenner, riffing on the popular television commercial.
With the beginning of Spring Training just weeks away, the bar — and the tone — have been set in the Bronx.