Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
2007-10-23 05:46
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Joe Girardi interviewed for the managerial job yesterday with the Yankee brass down in Tampa (Pete Abraham has audio from Girardi). Hank Steinbrenner and his brother, Hal, are suddenly in the spotlight. Donnie Baseball is up next; Tony Pena follows tomorrow.

Here are updates on Mo, Jorgie and Alex.

Meanwhile, Randy Levine does not think he has been treated objectively by the media in the past week. Richard Sandomir has more in the Times.

2007-10-23 06:40:13
1.   Dimelo
F- Randy!!!
2007-10-23 06:42:51
2.   pistolpete
Girardi was affable enough during the conference call yesterday, but I felt like he was pretty much handcuffed by his subject material - he obviously couldn't talk about the interview that just took place, and he didn't want to go much into the Florida situation for personal reasons..

So basically it was a lot of talk on the general principles of managing, pleasantries being exchanged, and really not much else...

IMO anyway. I expect a Mattingly interview to be even less interesting...

2007-10-23 06:48:33
3.   ms october
1 I'll second that emotion.

2 I can't even imagine what Mattingly's would sound like.

2007-10-23 06:58:14
4.   Yankee Fan In Boston
2 3 i'd expect a mattingly conference call to cover the finer points of mustache cultivation and maintanance, eye black, methods of stealing kids' popcorn, being an all-around stand up guy, and symbolizing everything the pinstripes stand for to a generation of kids who had to suffer through a yankee dark age.
2007-10-23 06:59:15
5.   Yankee Fan In Boston
4 oh... and how he'd approach the job and stuff.
2007-10-23 07:04:15
6.   Shaun P
5 And if there was no mention of horses, I would be severely disappointed.
2007-10-23 07:05:42
7.   rbj
4 But what about the sideburns?
2007-10-23 07:06:53
8.   Yankee Fan In Boston
6 even if they were used as a metaphor... although that might confuse the steinbrothers...

(i knew i forgot something.)

2007-10-23 07:08:58
9.   williamnyy23
So much for the mass exodus in the wake of Joe Torre.

As for Levine, I am glad to see he is defending himself. The conflict of interest bwteen the media and Joe is glaring, so I think any intelligent person knows to take the hatchet jobs with a grain of salt.

If you consider Levine's vital role in establishing YES and negotiating sweetheart contract deals for the new Stadium, his contribution to the Yankees since 2000 has arguably been more positive than Joe Torre's. You can dismiss Levine as simply a business man, but the history of the Yankees shows that when the business is run well, the team plays well on the field. There have been two periods when the Yankees have been a mess on the filed: Pre-1915 during the reign of corrupt politicos Devery and Farrell; and 1965-1973 when the team was owned by CBS, which had no idea how to intergrate a sports team into its media portfolio. Right now, the Yankees are doing very well from a business standpoint, and Levine definitely deserves a lot of credit for that.

2007-10-23 07:09:05
10.   ms october
6 Hank is for horses
2007-10-23 07:14:24
11.   JL25and3
Poo' wittle Wandy. The big bullies are ganging up on him, and it's not fair!

He was the point man - the only voice, really - on what he knew might be an unpopular decision. Did he really think everyone would just take the "we wanted him, but he rejected us" story at face value, just because he said so?

Maybe people have been blaming him unfairly; I know Zack thinks so. But he makes himself look even worse by questioning the integrity of his critics. Isn't it possible that they're criticizing him because that's what they think? M&MD, and Kruk, may be idiots, but I've never thought they were dishonest idiots.

This is the guy who went straight from being Giuliani's Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Planning and Administration, to negotiating a Stadium deal with the city. And he's talking about the appearance of a conflict of interest?

2007-10-23 07:22:32
12.   Max
The Sandomir column was positively weird. He points out the conflict of interest involving a couple of Levine's critics, then ends the column by noting one of his own involving something Levine did for him.

Whether you support the Yankee management's position or not, Levine looks very small responding to his critics. He really needs to issue a short reply asserting his position and not respond to specific things said, otherwise he looks like Bobby Valentine and Tony LaRussa and other thin-skinned egomaniacs.

I think it was mentioned in another thread, but Neil deMause's Field of Schemes is essential reading for getting better insight into just how greasy a swindler Levine is. He is certainly no friend of NY taxpayers.

2007-10-23 07:24:41
13.   pistolpete
8 "Sometimes you have to corral all your horses into the stable, and sometimes you just have to let them run free..."

"And sometimes, you just have to shoot Giambi - er, the horse - because he can't run anymore."

2007-10-23 07:29:36
14.   Yankee Fan In Boston
13 well played.
2007-10-23 07:29:37
15.   ms october
11 Right - the conflict of interest is inherent in his getting the Yankee job to negotiate the stadium deal.
12 Again right - did Randy not see that asking a columnist who he has done a "favor" for in his capacity as deputy mayor to help explain his side of the story is following the same pattern?
2007-10-23 07:33:20
16.   Shaun P
13 Aww c'mon, Giambi at least tries. Shouldn't Pavano be the horse to take the fall?

10 Thank you. I thought one of the Steinbrothers was involved in the horse business, but I didn't remember which one.

2007-10-23 07:35:31
17.   ms october
16 Giambi could certainly learn some grooming tips from Mattingly - so maybe we don't shoot him yet.
2007-10-23 07:39:21
18.   Max
16 Don't forget how Levine did the Yankees' image proud back in 2004 when he held a press conference insisting on a forfeit for the Devil Rays when they couldn't make it to NY because of Hurricane Frances. (Cashman was also involved, but by all accounts Levine was the most vocal and instransigent player in the mess) The bad press the Yankees received for that was substantial (and deserved in my opinion): (2nd item in column)

2007-10-23 07:48:38
19.   Shaun P
18 Levine is certainly, IMHO, a slimey slimeball. However, there probably are advantages to having a slimey slimeball working for the Yankees on the business side of things. (I wish it wasn't this way, but I think we all know better.) I'm not sure how much credit to assign Levine for how well the Yanks are doing financially 9 ; I'm no businessman. But he must be doing something right - or at the least, he isn't screwing things up.

I would prefer he stays out of the baseball side of things, though. It seems that every time he opens his mouth, he comes off looking bad (or worse).

Levine reminds me a lot of Larry Lucchino (another business-side slimey slimeball, who always comes off bad (or worse) when he opens his mouth, and shouldn't butt in on baseball-related matters). RSN is much happier when Larry keeps his mouth shut. I will be much happier when Levine shuts his. I hope to God its soon.

2007-10-23 07:52:22
20.   williamnyy23
12 Why shouldn't Levine respond to his critics? Considering how savage they have been, I think he has the right. I also find it odd that so much focus centers on Levine. His choice as a target makes one wonder.

15 Levine didn't state hos critics shouldn't fire away; just that they should disclose their conflicts. Sandomir did disclose his conflict, so there is no double standard. Speaking of conflict, M&MD bigger conflict is that they ended their interview with Joe saying something like we'll be in touch and maintain a relationship long after this show. I don't think the business conflicts are as noteworthy as the fact that many media members consider Joe their friend.

18 They couldn't make it because they refused to leave early. Also, if you recall, the year before, Selig forced the Yankees to start a game in Baltimore with a hurricane on the way. Predictably, the game was rained out and the Yankees had to bus it out of Baltimore. Finally, it's kind of funny that one of your links is to the D'Rays website, considering our discussion of conflicts.

2007-10-23 07:59:39
21.   Felix Heredia
Randy Levine was brought into the Yankees for one purpose and one purpose only: the new stadium. He served as the deputy mayor for economic development, planning and administration for the city of New York under the Giulianni adminstration. Tranlsation: he's got NYC development juice.

Previously, he was a high-powered labor and employment lawyer at a large New York law firm. His only baseball experience is as a labor negotiator.

He is not qualified to make any decisions regarding the manager, coaches or players.

2007-10-23 08:04:32
22.   williamnyy23
21 There isn't any evidence to suggest that Randy Levine makes baseball decisions, so am I not sure why so many are suggesting he does. While Levine may help on devising contract offers, I don't think he decides to whom those offers are made.
2007-10-23 08:11:15
23.   JL25and3
20 He made himself a target by placing himself front and center. He also came more or less out of nowhere to do it; he's not new, obviously, but this was an odd choice for his first public foray into baseball affairs. Why is he surprised at the reaction?

M&MD have never made a secret of who they have relationships with. Francesa's been close friends with Parcells for a long time, and he's always been entirely straightforward about it. They're also not news reporters, and they don't really have any obligation to be even-handed. Wuite the opposite, in fact - they're paid to be opinionated.

Here, Francesa consistently described himself as "a Torre guy" from the beginning. Russo said he was less so, but respected Torre a lot. What's the problem?

2007-10-23 08:15:26
24.   NJYankee41
22 He was at the meeting with Torre, so its not outlandish to believe he had some say in that "baseball" decision.

"While Levine may help on devising contract offers, I don't think he decides to whom those offers are made."

You don't "think"? Its what you think vs. what others think. How is that different from anyone else's suggestion of what role he has?

Smart and demeaning comment welcomed.

2007-10-23 08:26:27
25.   markp
william you're wasting your time on these guys. They've already made up their mind that the Yankee front office is bad and Torre is a saint.
It doesn't matter that Cashman said that everyone in that room thought Torre would sign-Cashman (before this a seemingly honest man) can't be trusted to say anything different.
It doesn't matter that it was the same contract Torre wanted 6 months earlier. They wanted to insult him.

This site went from decent baseball analysis to hand-wringing in a flash.
Torre went from someone who's (mis)management could be discussed to damn near infallible in a matter of days.

2007-10-23 08:35:13
26.   Max
20 One of the articles is from a "DRays website" in name only -- it is maintained by If you do further research on the story, including the New York accounts, you will find a bit more information regarding MLB and New York management's point of view, but nothing to significantly alter the points being made by all sides -- that the Yankees came across as blustery and desperate in requesting a forfeit. They could have made their points quietly to the commmissioner's office and not held a press conference.

The point of all this discussion is not to point out that Levine makes nothing but wrong decisions or isn't entitled to respond to his critics, or kicks babies in his spare time (at least, not the last time I checked). The point is that when you make decisions and issue statements with public consequences, you shouldn't be surprised if you're held accountable for them.

Accountability is something that Levine shouldn't be exempt from, given we've all been screaming about how a certain manager should be accountable.

Finally, it would be nice to believe that business is business and the way one's words come across shouldn't matter, but Levine attracts unwanted attention precisely because of the way he carries himself and makes the statements he does. This sort of thing does matter when the Yankees sell tickets and merchandise, attract free agents, and generally go about doing business.

2007-10-23 08:40:35
27.   yankz
25 Questioning Levine's ability to make sound baseball decisions does not fit into your absurd and hyperbolic take on things.

William, I think you're doing a fine job of being in the minority today.

2007-10-23 08:40:45
28.   JL25and3
25 You've been repeatedly making posts to that effect. Never mind that they bear absolutely no relationship to what's actually being said.
2007-10-23 08:42:48
29.   Max
25 This site went from decent baseball analysis to hand-wringing in a flash.

Throwing stones from glass houses is kinda dangerous, ya know?

There are several people I disagree with here, but most have made good points even if I disagree. I'm still waiting for "decent" analysis from you, markp. It might help if you characterize your opponents' points with just a bit more subtlety.

Saying that everyone who disagrees with you thinks Torre is a "saint" is a very bad start.

2007-10-23 08:46:16
30.   pistolpete
22 Then why was he front and center at the press conference for Torre's contract situation?

Because he's a good speaker?


2007-10-23 08:58:32
31.   weeping for brunnhilde
16 I think you're thinking of "Heck-of-a-Job" Brownie--he was in the horse business.

Or the horse show business or whateverthefuck it was.

2007-10-23 09:04:16
32.   ms october
It is fairly common knowledge that Francesa is friendly with Torre. Should he say this before and after every story on him?
Also, it seems Levine is more upset with M&MD because he wants to ammend or get rid of, the story was not clear, simulcasting their show on YES rather than their "relationship" with Torre.
Most Mainstream media has a conflict of interest in some fashion.
Yes, Torre being well liked by most members of the media has helped him in the last few weeks, but there has been plenty of times that Randy Levine has benefitted from conflicts of interest, so it is hypocritical for him to have a problem with it.
Finally, I fully agree with Max's statement in 26 . Levine wants the Yanks to run like a business - fine. Then he should be held as accountable as everyone else for that business, which includes people's reaction to your decisions
2007-10-23 09:07:00
33.   ms october
31 Hank said the horses don't talk back.

Oh Brownie - I almost forgot about him and his horse shows.

2007-10-23 09:26:22
34.   williamnyy23
23 Again, he isn't asking not be criticized. It seems he is just trying to point out that most of the people taking a hatchett to him are really friends of Joe. That's certainly fair to point out. Clearly, M&MD aren't journalists, so your point is well taken, but I have no problem with Levine defending himself nonetheless (as I wouldn't have a problem if Torre fired back at severe criticism).

24 The idea that Levine is making baseball decisions is a significant conclusion, so I think it has the burden of proof. I am not sure why you think that argument is demeaning to you, but so be it.

26 Your post seemed to imply the links would be scathing accounts of Levine's role, so I apologize for getting that impression. I am not sure, however, why you think Levine doesn't want to be held accountable. Sandomir's column simply said Levine thought those attacking him should reveal their conflicts.

32 I am sure Levine is very much held accountability for the economic pursuits he oversees. Judging by the Yankees increasing business success, I have a feeling the Steinbrenners think he is doing a pretty good job. Everyone clamoring for the Yankees to throw money at Jorge, Mo and Arod should take that into account as they rip into Levine.

2007-10-23 11:51:11
35.   RIYank
34 First paragraph:
I think that's right. And the appropriate reply from M&MD, etc., would have been: yes, we do have that relationship with Torre (etc.), and I guess we should have disclosed it but at the time it didn't occur to us that it was important.

Second: I don't think any position has the 'burden of proof'. Burden of proof is for lawyers in court rooms. The rest of us just look at all the evidence available and decide what makes most sense to believe, where the balance of the evidence points. The whole concept of burden of proof just doesn't apply to us.

2007-10-23 13:17:21
36.   JL25and3
35 I agree, and I'll add this: Randy Levine's never done a damn thing to earn the benefit of my doubt.

As for his criticisms of M&MD etc., you may feel he's got a point. However, it's a poorly-considered, self-justifying point that can only make him look worse.

2007-10-23 16:31:22
37.   rilkefan
0 "when my wife's best friend was dying in 1998, her fiancé failed to persuade the city clerk's office to waive the 24-hour waiting period for a marriage license. She might not have a day, he pleaded. My wife asked me if I could help, and I called Levine, the deputy mayor at the time, whom I barely knew. He quickly dispatched someone to expedite the license. My wife's friend and fiancé were married later that day. She died the next day."

Touching story.

35 It's normally considered that the burden of proof rests on the person making a positive assertion.

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