Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees — a $3 billion enterprise? (Al Bello / Getty Images)

The New York Yankees owned by anyone not named Steinbrenner?

You cannot be serious.

For several generations of fans, the idea might be unfathomable, but the New York Daily News reports that “rumors are flying in Major League Baseball and New York banking circles that the family that has owned Major League Baseball’s premiere franchise since Cleveland shipbuilder George Steinbrenner purchased the club for $8.8 million in 1973 is exploring the possibility of selling the Yankees.”

While the word “rumors” is a stopper in that report, the Los Angeles Dodgers did sell for a staggering $2.175 billion in April. This morning, Hal Steinbrenner, one of George’s sons, vehemently denied the story.

“I just read the Daily News story. It is complete fiction,” Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, said in a statement. “Me and my family have no intention to sell the Yankees and expect it to be in the family for years to come.”

Yankees President Randy Levine also denied the report, telling the Daily News, “I can say to you there is absolutely, positively nothing to this. The Steinbrenners are not selling the team."

George Steinbrenner, who died in July 2010 and is honored with a Yankee Stadium plaque, once compared the team to a priceless work of art. Some things, Mike Lupica wrote of a comparison Steinbrenner often made, carry no price tag.

“Owning the Yankees is like owning the Mona Lisa. And once you own it, you never sell it.”

Maybe. But the News quotes sources who say that Steinbrenner’s kids really aren’t that into baseball. After the Dodgers’ sale, the optimum time to put the Yankees —Jerry Seinfeld’s “team of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle ... Costanza?” — up for sale would seem to be now.

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