There’s something disturbing about the recently released email exchanges between Randy Levine and Alex Rodriguez. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with a team executive giving email pep talks to a star player, especially when both men have been unfairly maligned despite making enormous contributions to the franchise’s success. However, the communications between Levine and Arod suggest something more than commiseration, and those undertones should make Yankee fans a little uneasy.
The email exchanges between player and president were mostly innocuous, but there was a smoking gun. On two occasions, Levine made direct references to Robinson Cano using performance enhancing drugs. Although Levine has since characterized these statements as “bad jokes”, you can bet Bud Selig isn’t laughing. The commissioner probably won’t be happy to learn that a high ranking Yankees’ executive was, at best, being flippant about performance enhancing drugs, an issue that has become like a crusade to Selig. That the comments were made to the commissioner’s “public enemy number one” only make them worse. Will this force Selig to investigate Levine’s statements further? If so, the Yankees had better hope there aren’t any skeletons hiding in their closet.
The PED comments are serious enough, but considering Levine’s experience as a top lawyer and politician, it stands to reason that he wouldn’t so freely make incriminating statements. However, that doesn’t mean Yankee fans shouldn’t be concerned about the emails. Even if the steroid comments prove benign, an even bigger threat to the franchise could be the emergence of Levine as a front office cancer.
Hey, what’s up with Robby. This guy must not be using the liquid.” – Randy Levine, quoted in an email to Alex Rodriguez dated August 21, 2012
“What’s new?” is probably the reaction from many Yankee fans. Despite playing a pivotal role in the formation of the YES Network as well as the building and financing of the new Yankee Stadium, two pillars of the team’s financial strength, Levine has been routinely vilified by the media and fans alike. Most likely because of political bias (his reputation as a federal and city lawyer preceded his reign as team president), Levine has rarely been given credit for his contributions, but the record speaks for itself. Over the last few years, however, his words have become more prominent than his actions.
In the role of experienced business man and legal wrangler, Levine has been a valuable asset to the Yankees. What they don’t need is for him to continue operating as an organizational toady. The franchise would be better off with its president making money, not creating distractions, and the recent email revelations are the latest example of the latter. Although many will isolate Levine as the problem, his current misaligned role is evidence of greater dysfunction within the organization’s hierarchy (and hopefully not much more). There are currently too many cooks stirring the Yankees’ pot, and if that problem is not corrected, the spoils left behind wont be the kind enjoyed by victors.