Hal Steinbrenner given Yanks' reins

George Steinbrenner's 35-year reign as boss of the New York Yankees ended yesterday when he passed control of baseball's most famous team to his youngest son, Hal.

The elder Steinbrenner has gradually withdrawn from the Yankees' day-to-day operations in recent years, and Hal and his brother Hank were appointed co-chairmen in April.


"I realize it's a great responsibility," said Hal Steinbrenner, who turns 40 on Dec. 3. "My dad is, needless to say, a tough act to follow."

George Steinbrenner, now 78, headed a group that bought the club in January 1973 for an $8.7 million net price and became one of the most high-profile owners in all of sports. His health has been declining. The Yankees won six World Series titles and 10 American League pennants from 1976 to 2003.


Baseball owners unanimously approved the change in control during a meeting yesterday.

Shortly after taking over, Hal Steinbrenner warned free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia that the Yankees' recent six-year contract offer for him is "not going to be there forever." It reportedly exceeds Johan Santana's six-year, $137.5 million contract with the New York Mets in total and average salary.

Postseason: : Commissioner Bud Selig announced that baseball will change its rules so that playoff games cannot be shortened because of bad weather. Selig said the change also will apply to tiebreaker games that decide division titles and wild-card berths. Under current rules, games are official as soon as the trailing team has made 15 outs. During World Series Game 5 between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia last month, Selig decided that it wouldn't be cut short because of pouring rain. Just after the Rays tied it in the top of the sixth, umpires halted play and the game was suspended for 46 hours.

Phillies: : Three-time All-Star Chase Utley, who anchored the middle of the lineup for the World Series champions, will have surgery next week to repair a damaged right hip and might not be ready for the start of the 2009 regular season. He will be able to begin baseball activity in three to four months. Utley was bothered by the hip last season but still hit .292 with 33 home runs and 104 RBIs. Also, third baseman Pedro Feliz had surgery on his back yesterday that will require eight to 12 weeks of rehabilitation.

Cardinals:: St. Louis and left-handed reliever Trever Miller are expected to finalize a deal today. Miller, 35, was 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA and two saves in 68 games last season for the Rays.