Yesterday, Joel Sherman offered up his understanding of the situation on his 3UP blog, and it runs contrary to what Richard Sandomir wrote in the Times when Cone's departure was official:
It it wasn't already blindingly apparent why Hal is running the team and not Hank, it should be now. Really, Hank? Trying to censor the broadcasters over something that trivial? Unacceptable. Go outside, smoke a couple Marlboro Reds in a row and try to regain your composure before we send you back to the fucking horse farm.I continue to hear that Cone’s departure after one season in the booth for YES was hardly pleasant. He had a personality conflict with one executive in particular, feeling this executive was intrusive and disrespectful all year. However, there were two incidents, in particular, that made Cone flip out.
Early in the season, with the Yankees struggling, Cone remarked on the air that if the Yankees did not start performing better than they could fall out of the race. The YES executive told the broadcasters that this remark aggravated Hank Steinbrenner and needed to be avoided in the future (so much for a firewall between the team and what is said on the air). Cone felt this was a true statement – and rather innocuous – and should not have been discussed.
Late in the season, Cone remarked that one of the important, behind-the-scenes workers involved in daily coverage of the Yankees was a free agent at the end of the year. This made the top YES executive flip out because the plan was not to retain this particular employee. Cone was confronted by the YES executive and there was a heated exchange during which Cone explained that he had made a lot of money playing (nearly $67 million) and took the YES job as a way to get back into baseball, but that he would not take such verbal abuse from anyone because he did not need the job. At that point it became apparent that Cone would not be back in 2010.
Obviously, Cone has a point here. He's not in it for the money and this mystery executive should take that into account when interacting with him. You might be able to lean on John Flaherty or Bob Lorenz because they are thrilled to have their jobs and probably could use the money, but you can't strong arm a guy who is there purely by choice. Admittedly, Cone didn't have to react so obstinately, but I can't help but side with him in both scenarios.
Guess who loses in all of this? The fans, of course. Sherman believes that the end result of this will likely be Tino Martinez being in the booth for 40 games in 2010. If he's anything like he was in his on short stint on Baseball Tonight - awkward and rigid - then color me less than excited.
As for Cone, the Post also indicates that he could play a role in the upcoming CBA negotiations. He has a history of being very influential in his time in the Players Association and a deep knowledge of the issues that will be on the table.
So maybe this is a blessing in disguise. We won't get many FanGraphs references this coming year (unless someone teaches Michael Kay how to use a computer) but it might free up Cone to help out with the labor situation and affect some real positive change in the game.