The man behind the Yanks’ political cloutBy
A lot of RAB readers have taken to analogizing Yankee officials to characters from The Godfather. At issue is Tom Hagen. Which one of the Yanks’ various VIPs gets to fill that ever-popular consigliere role? Based on an article in tomorrow’s Times, Randy Levine can take pride in inheriting that mantle.
Richard Sandomir, The Times’ sports business reporter, tackles Levine in a profile a week before the Yanks’ president’s pet $2 billion project opens in the Bronx. Levine, as Sandomir puts it, has inherited the George Steinbrenner persona. He has, as Sandomir writes, “emerged as the strongest voice of the Yankees, baseball’s wealthiest team. He is their executive-as-prosecutor, a tough, short-tempered and smart protector of the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees brand.”
Levine has long been in the public spotlight. Prior to his term with the Yanks, he served in the Reagan Administration’s, as Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor and labor commissioner and as a personal lawyer to Steinbrenner. The Yankees brought him aboard in 2000 when they needed a figure well versed in the inane intricacies of New York City politics to shepherd a complex and comprehensive stadium plan through the political process.
“The Yankees wanted a leg up on the maneuvering that goes on in that system,” Giuliani said to Sandomir.
But over the years, his role has moved beyond that of a political powerbroker. He has become the blunt voice of the team. He defends the Yanks from their critics inside baseball but can come across as brash to those on his own team. He is largely blamed for the departure of Joe Torre, and it’s clear from Torre’s book that the former Yankee manager had little respect for a man who often negotiates through anger and brashness rather than through tact.
Sandomir’s article reveals little we don’t know about Levine, but he does offer glimpse into the important role he plays as team president. As Sandomir reports, Levine was integral in determining that Hal should be the Steinbrenner son to take the reins. I wonder, then, what the relationship is like between Hank and Levine.
In a way, Yankee fans long used to the presence of a George Steinbrenner should embrace Levine. He is an outspoken defender of the Yankees who isn’t above criticizing his players. At the same time, he seems like a bully.
Earlier this week, I was wondering if Levine’s power would wane now that the new stadium is completed. Based upon Sandomir’s account though, Randy Levine — the Yanks’ own Tom Hagen — won’t be pushed out any time soon. He is their war-time consigliere, and with the Yanks, it’s always time for war.