Would have LOVED to have been within earshot of the conversations between Toronto general manager J.P Ricciardi and his Minnesota counterpart, Bill Smith, this week as the Blue Jays and Twins played the Hank Steinbrenner Memorial Tampering Bowl in Canada.
"I didn't have much conversation with J.P. about any of that," Smith said Friday.
Too bad, because there's so much to talk about.
Such as, Steinbrenner clearly tampering with Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett when he told Newsday last week, "Everybody's looking at (CC) Sabathia and Burnett, not just us. We'll see. The main concern is, are their arms going to be OK after this season?"
Then, setting a deadline on the Twins to accept a deal with the Yankees, Steinbrenner said:
"We'll see how it goes, but this is not an act. It's not a bluff. It's just reality. Because as much as I want Santana, and you can make that clear -- for his sake, to know that I do want him -- but the fact is that I'm not going to play the game."
Baseball rules clearly prohibit executives publicly discussing players from another team.
Of course, what are rules if they're not enforced?
A baseball official told me this week that Steinbrenner was reprimanded by the Commissioner's Office for that Santana comment. There was no fine levied, it was more of a stern lecture meant to educate the new kid on the block.
Clearly, based on his comments regarding Sabathia (who will be a free agent this winter) and Burnett (who has the right to opt out of his Toronto contract and become a free agent if he wishes), Steinbrenner didn't learn.
Or maybe he's simply incapable of being refined.
Tampering is difficult to enforce because, in these days of whirlwind free agency, so many executives wind up talking about opposing players. Most who do, however, are careful to speak off the record, offering background information -- without quotes or attribution -- about what their clubs may want to do in the off-season.
On the rare occasion when an executive is careless or clumsy enough to talk about a desired player when he's still playing elsewhere, baseball essentially lets it go unless, as a baseball official says, "one party is angry and came to us and said, 'Hey, we have a problem here.'"
At that point, baseball will investigate.
Steinbrenner's comment about Santana was so out-of-line that baseball officials apparently sat him down for a talk without it ever reaching that point. Smith said the Twins never complained formally.
As for his latest comments on Sabathia and Burnett, don't expect much to come of that, either. The Blue Jays, for one, simply figure that's show biz in the modern era.
"Whatever," Ricciardi told me Thursday. "I never even thought twice about it, to be honest with you. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? He can say whatever he wants to say.
"If someone is tampering on any type of job -- hitting coach, pitching coach -- it comes down to whether the guy is happy when he's here, anyway. He either is or he's not.
"And if he is, he'll stay. And if he's not happy, he'll leave."
Burnett is expected utilize his opt-out window following this season to again test free agency. If he elects to stay with the Jays, his contract would extend two more seasons (2009 and 2010) for $24 million.
Of course, Steinbrenner's comments should be a pretty good indication to Burnett that he can probably make a whole lot more than $24 million with the Yankees over the next several years.
Makes you wonder exactly what the Yankees' Loose Cannon, er, General Partner, would have to say before he actually was slapped with a tampering fine.