2008_03_steinbrenners.jpgFor all the noise of this Yankees offseason, as far as the team on the field goes, all it amounted to was the status quo. Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera are all back -- and richer. Young pitchers Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and center fielder Melky Cabrera didn't go to the Twins for Johan Santana. The 2008 Yankees will be a slightly older albeit considerably more expensive version of the 2007 team. And most fans are fine with that.

The question of how they got to those decisions is the subject of Jonathan Mahler's article "Oedipus Bronx" in Play, a sports extension of The Times' magazine. Mahler, the author of Ladies and Gentleman, the Bronx is Burning, spends most of his article trying to scratch the mystique that is now the Yankees front office. Hank Steinbrenner, so long in a self-imposed exile, has come back to become the outspoken center of attention as George Steinbrenner's health fails. Hank's brother, Hal, 11 years younger, has been closer to his father -- whom he calls "George" -- and the Yankees. Though they remain mum about the subject, Hank and Hal have appeared to work out an arrangement in which Hank makes the baseball decisions and Hal sticks to business. Where general manager Brian Cashman, whose contract expires in October, fits in to that equation, remains to be seen.

Mahler doesn't present much new information, but he does get two juicy -- and amusing -- quotes from each of the Brothers H. Hal, divorced and with three children, said, "I hope there's going to be some personal stuff about me in the story, too. I just want to get a date out of it." Hank, following in the footsteps of George, offered a swipe at the Red Sox. “Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.” For their part, the Red Sox responded by giving him a full membership in Red Sox Nation, including a membership card, an perk that by itself cost $10 at one point.

Photo of the brothers Steinbrenner by AP/Julie Jacobson