Randy Levine, the Yankees Team President, is a newsmaker only sporadically. But when he decides to throw his weight around, it always comes with a backlash.
Randy Levine is at it again, smack in the middle of a controversy, this time surrounding his invitation to Donald Trump to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on August 15.
Levine didn’t ask anyone in the Yankees organization beforehand; he just did it – mostly because he knows he can.
A glance at the Yankee’s organization chart shows Randy Levine as the first name after the General Partners from the Steinbrenner family.
Curiously, Levine’s soft toss to Trump followed on the heels of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s support of players and coaches who decide to kneel as a sign of protest during the National Anthem, saying it as “a manifestation of where our country currently is.”
Sure enough, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks took a knee for what Hicks cited as “personal reasons” before Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals in Washington, D.C.
Just as quickly came an announcement from the White House saying Trump would not be able to attend because – he “is too busy tending to the pandemic and our faltering economy.”
It’s necessary, though, to recall this is the same Donald Trump who referred to NFL players who took a knee as “sons of bitches”.
Spin it any way you want, but it’s revealing to note that Trump’s refusal of Randy Levine’s invitation didn’t come until after Stanton and Hicks’ action on Saturday.
Randy Levine: Bad Cop Amid Good Cops
Randy Levine seems to get off on playing the role of “bad cop” amid a Yankees’ organization filled with “good cops.” Looking back, that’s always been Levine’s chosen persona, even before he joined the Yankees.
Once, during his days in the Rudy Giuliani mayoral administration, Levine was representing the city of New York and Guiliani in negotiations with the teacher’s union when the issue of raises came up.
The New York Times reports that Levine demanded a two-year wage freeze for the teachers while promising that Giuliani administration officials would not receive raises.
After the deal was completed, the city raises were announced.
What do you call that – hard-nosed, immoral, just doing my job? But here’s another example of Randy Levine in action, and this one is closer to home for Yankees fans.
Randy Levine vs. Dellin Betances
Make no mistake, when free agency came up for Dellin Betances last winter, not one whisper or thought was given to re-signing with the Yankees (he signed and is with the Mets). The reason traces back to the day in 2017 when Dellin Betances met Randy Levine.
Betances, 28, and a three-time All-Star reliever for the Yankees asked for $5 million, a number most figured was reasonable for a pitcher of his caliber in his first arbitration season.
But as the Washington Post reported, Randy Levine would only go as far as $3 million, a difference of two million.
The judges ruled in Levine’s favor and minus the disappointment Betances no doubt felt, the event was ready to become a speck of dust in what was thought to be a long and successful career with the Yankees.
Except that Randy Levine wasn’t satisfied. He went for the jugular telling reporters at a Tampa news conference that Betances was a “victim” of his agent.
It didn’t take long for fans and media to line up on the side of Betances, and worse for some to “read” the code of Levine’s word “victim” as though his agent duped Betances (in his naivety or ignorance).
Randy Levine had bullied his way through again.
Randy Levine: A Reflection Or Deflection Of The Yankees
Nearly all business organizations have a hatchet-man/woman or two around to do the deeds no one wants to out front on. Randy Levine fits the bill, but what doesn’t compute is that Hal Steinbrenner made the appointment assigning Levine as the Yankees’ bad cop.
It’s just not something that fits with the Yankees’ way of doing business over the years, and especially during the regime of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman.
Maybe, that is, if there wasn’t a lengthy narrative of Levine’s hammer falling on other people’s heads, especially during his years in public service (read politics).
Fortunately, Randy Levine otherwise keeps a low profile. He does not, for instance, involve himself in the day-to-day baseball operations, a task wisely reserved for Brian Cashman.
But Levine’s latest excursion with the Trump thing is, for many (including this writer), an embarrassment for the New York Yankees, just as the Betances fiasco was four years ago.
Hopefully, it’ll be another four years before we hear the name Randy Levine again.