For the last week, the Yankees have been slammed by the press over the empty, high-priced seats at Yankee Stadium. All of the city’s papers and sports pundits have been talking about it, and even I got to appear on TV to discuss it.
But when the head of Major League Soccer raised the issue on Friday, well, Randy Levine finally lost it. The Yanks’ team president unleashed his inner beast on MLS, and I have to wonder if Levine would have been better off just keeping quiet.
Here’s how it started: On Thursday, Don Garber, MLS commissioner, said, “It’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty.”
On Friday, when informed of the soccer head’s barb, Levine went on some rant. “Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke,” Levine said to the AP. “We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously. Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league.”
Later int he day, Garber defended his remarks. “The Yankees are one of the world’s strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing,” he said in a statement. Garber shouldn’t have backtracked.
With this silly spat, Levine hasn’t exactly endeared himself to a Yankee fanbase already skeptical of his role in the organization. Ross at New Stadium Insider called Levine’s attack classless and noted that it makes the Yanks look bad. His co-writer there noted the continued disconnect between the Yankee Front Office and fan perceptions of the team.
The Yankees are treading on dangerous ground right now. While a lot of fans have no problems with the high ticket prices, a good number feel slighted and scorned by the Yankee Front Office. Levine is practically spitting in those fans’ collective faces here. It would do him wonders to step back for a few days and listen to Bud Selig. Humility has never done anyone wrong.