YES Network boots Torre supporter, collaborator

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Via The Big Lead – required sports reading, really – comes a tale of intrigue involving the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network. According to Neil Best, Newsday’s sports media commentator, the Yanks have banned’s Tom Verducci from the YES Network because of his close ties to estranged former manager Joe Torre.

Last month, Verducci penned a very critical piece on the Yanks’ treatment of Torre that was published just days before word came long that the two are working on a book. While I think YES should stomach the criticism, the ties between Torre and Verducci here blur the lines of journalist integrity. The relationship between sports writers and their subjects has always been cozy, and these co-writer situations like this always make me raise in eyebrow.

To replace Verducci, YES has turned to Jon Heyman for Sports Illustrated commentary instead.

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  • JCP

    Primary example: the A-Rod article in SI

  • Rob

    No kidding. Where was the disclosure in that article that they have a business relationship? Because every book that sells, Verducci gets a cut. I don’t see how that’s not extremely unethical.

    Meanwhile, the article is titled: “Blood on their hands: Yanks look disorganized, cowardly after Torre’s exit”

    I’ve lost all respect for the guy.

  • Mike R.

    It’s a big blow to a journalist when his credibilty comes into question. Let’s see what, if anything, he says in response.

    • Rob

      What response could he offer? That Torre read the article and in three days they had a book deal?

      The man wrote an extremely unbalanced piece while he was holding undisclosed but very related business interests. It’s completely unethical.

  • stuart

    I have no problem with what Yes did especially since they said it was because they were upset with Verducci.. If they lied about it that would be a problem but they were open about ti so I am fine with it.

  • Sonny M.

    The NY Times actually had a nice write up awhile back giving Randy Levine’s version, and noting his complaints that some of the critics had failed to disclose business relationships or ties, including Verducci.

    Not to ironically, the writer disclosed his own personal tie to Levine at the end, which is something I think is badly lacking in todays sports journalism.

    • Marcus

      I was thinking about the same article. The interesting part was that in the article they got an answer from Verducci to the question about his ties to Torre from his previous book with Torre. Verducci said that it was over ten years ago (1996 I think), and he didn’t think it was relevant. Two weeks later the pair announce a new book deal. I would say that is very relevant.

  • Mike

    Does this tie into Mike and the Mad Dog’s announcement today that Hayman will contribute to the MMD show twice a week? MMD is simulcast on YES and Verducci is often on the program.

    • Ben K.

      I don’t know for sure, but I would probably say yes.

  • Kevin23

    The knee-jerk reaction by much of the press after Torre left was BS. I think it needed to be dealt with in some way. As a member of the press, you need people on all sides to confide in you and believe you at least have the potential to be objective. If YES thought he was playing favorites, which is obvious, then give him a nice swift kick in the pants goodbye. No better reason to do it really.

    Most legitimate sportswriters were predicting Torre’s exit months, even years, before it happened. Everyone knew he was under-performing in his old contract. Then there was this sudden wave of BS about his 13 straight playoff appearances, etc. As if that wasn’t well known. He didn’t deserve to be paid as the best if he wasn’t the best. Period. Yet the media circus showed its insanity under pressure once again. And that should never be rewarded.

  • Colter

    I’m calling for the creation of a highly critical blog about baseball writers. A blog that tracks these sorts of things and puts the sport media under a microscope. Fire Joe Morgan is sort of in that vein but what I’m calling for would be less funny, more serious. However, no one listens to me.

    • kris

      Yeah is there already a blog or wiki like that? It’d be great to have a paper trail of Mike Pagliarulo, for example. He supposedly went back to remove factual statements in his article on Cashman after Bill Madden busted him. Some commentators or “experts” have zero credibility, so it would be great if there is some sort of record.

      • Mike R.

        In Pags’ defense he isn’t really a sports writer. He is more of a monkey with a keyboard. We should keep track of him as well, but on a different site.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    Bravo to YES for banning Verducci. You have to wonder, where is the man’s common sense. Doesn’t his reputation mean anything to him. He has destroyed his credibility going forward as well as tainting anything else he has ever written.

    I want to second the comments of Kevin23, the coverage of Torre’s firing was disgraceful from beginning to end. The press bent over backwards to present Torre as the injured party rather than taking an objective point of view. We kept hearing about how outraged Yankee fans were about the treatment of Torre. I myself knew of only one Yankee fan who was even mildly upset that he was not returning. In fact most fans I know were happy to see him go.

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  • GREG45

    What Verducci did was clearly wrong, but please, this championing of YES as some entity that’s so concerned about journalists ethics is really overdoing. YES was completely self serving in this.

    This obviously has Randy Levine’s fingerprints all over it. The main point Verducci made in that column was criticizing Randy Levine and the ridiculous way he acted in the press conference. That’s why YES used this as an excuse to kick Verducci off. This is Levine’s petty payback. Levine is very active in YES – I believe he’s on the YES board and is the Yankee executive most closely involved with the television side of things.

    Levine is an absolute tool and Verducci was competely correct in what he had to say about Levine. Levine has been one of the chief players in Tampa that has tried to undercut the New York side of the operations. He’s at the heart of the dysfunction in the organization with the recurrent Tampa/ New York tension.

    When Cashman wrested control of operations, it was primarily a battle he fought with Levine. The idea of Levine becoming more powerful in the organization after Torre left would have been an awful outcome.

    Interestingly, since the criticism he took over Torre’s firing we haven’t seen anymore of Levine. Good riddance. He’s an administrator who thinks he knows something about baseball.

    Verducci was wrong not to disclose his relationship. But YES getting rid of him had everything to do with how thin skin Randy Levine is. Don’t be nieve. This was a corporate executive being small minded.

  • brxbmrs

    Not to give the Steinbrothers more credit, but I almost wonder if they all agreed Levine would be the bad guy in the Torre handling? Like others said, he’s an administrator – I think he was a deputy mayor and a lawyer whose primary benefit was his contacts within government\insudtry that allowed the Yanks to get a new stadium deal.

    It wouldn’t be the 1st time an organization used an administrator to take some heat and allow the operational people to save face. Brilliant, if that was the case.

    Torre is a big phony who manipulated all the nerds in the media – and looking at almost all of those guys, they are under 5’5″ and 120 pounds – these are the kids that got picked on in high school and Torre made them feel good about themselves and leaked them info.

    In short, he’s the sportswriters Rasputin – glad he gets to work his magic in LA where he will fit right in with all the other bsers.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    Greg45’s post misses the point. The posts related to this topic are expressing an increasing frustration with the double standard journalists often work under. This is not about Randy Levine or YES, Levine may well be a first class bum and YES the biggest double dealers in the business, but in this case the ban on Verducci is right. What he did wasn’t just wrong it was a serious violation of journalistic standards. Years ago George Wills column was dropped by newspapers across the country when it was discovered he was ghostwriting some of Reagan.s speeches (1980). This situation is no different.

    Many of the posters on this blog were disgusted with the one sided coverage St. Joe was given by the so called sports journalists and commentators in the New York market over the separation from the Yankees.

    Torre and Verducci can write all the books they want, but Torre may get more than he bargained for. Someone may decide to write a book about Joe warts and all, that I assure you will be an interesting read. Keep in mind what Joe said after leaving the Yanks, “I still have the bug to manage”, this from a 68 year old man with a 10 year old daugther. Joe apparently doesn’t think twice about uprooting the family, moving them clear across country because he still has the “bug”. You think his 10 year old daugther still has the “bug” to see her father manage for another three years. Joe is about Joe, nothing else, I would love to see that story told.

    • JCP

      well said, well said…