There will never be any way of knowing how much Hal Steinbrenner truly loves the business of baseball, of the Yankees, of being the Steinbrenner in charge of the Yankees. There is also no way of knowing, whatever he says and whatever the people who work for him say, how long he will actually be in the baseball business, even if we are told constantly the Steinbrenners will be around longer than the monuments in the outfield.

Hal Steinbrenner’s father once sat at his big desk in his office at the old Stadium, the one right behind a suite that used to feel like the baseball version of City Hall, and told me that owning the Yankees was like owning the Mona Lisa, that once you owned the Mona Lisa you never sold it.

Of course the son is not the father. Has never tried to pass himself off as the father. In fact, Hal has never tried to be anybody but himself since he took over the running of the team. And ought to be respected for that.

The other day he spoke to the media in Tampa, on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting — including some really, really old pitchers for the 2013 Yankees — and addressed the criticism that the Yankees are suddenly being operated on the cheap. It is criticism not just coming from Yankee fans, but from the media, which seems to be on the verge of a temper tantrum because Steinbrenner won’t throw money around the way they want him to.