Remember earlier this week when Chuck Greenberg said that he thinks the Rangers’ visit to Cliff Lee’s home in Arkansas contributed to Lee signing with Philly instead of the Yankees? Yeah, Yankees President Randy Levine didn’t much care for that:
“If he really wants to impress us then he can get the Rangers off of welfare and show how they can be revenue-sharing payors, rather than recipients for three years in row, without financing from Major League Baseball. That would really be something … I think Chuck is delusional. He’s been in the game a few minutes but it seems to be that he thinks he knows what everybody else is thinking. He should really let Cliff Lee speak for himself.”
I’m struggling to think why Greenberg’s comments — however silly they might have been — would have upset Levine so much. They weren’t directed at the Yankees. They were just musings. All I can guess is that Levine in no way wants anyone to suggest that the Yankees had a real shot at Lee. That the Phillies’ signing of him was occasioned by fate as opposed to the intervention of the Rangers or the failures of the Yankees. Maybe he struck a nerve.
And what’s with the stuff about revenue sharing? I can’t help but think that Levine is going to get a call from Selig over that. Levine may not like it, but revenue sharing is part of baseball’s architecture. It is designed to aid teams that were not, like Levine’s Yankees, blessed with a monopoly over the largest media market in the country. An effort, however insufficient it is in practice, to help teams not as fortunate as the Yankees to compete on something approximating an equal footing.
And really: given how tied up Randy Levine was in securing over a billion dollars in tax exempt bonds for the construction of Yankee Stadium — and how defensive he was about it when people called the Yankees out on that — he’s the last dude who should be complaining about welfare.
I don’t think Major League Baseball will appreciate revenue sharing being referred to as “welfare.” And even if they don’t mind that term, I don’t think Selig will take kindly to Levine blasting revenue sharing recipients any more than we would take to some rich guy who inherited family money blasting a poor person for accepting welfare when they need it.