Yankees president Randy Levine thinks you’re an idiot

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We’ve talked for years about how taxpayers subsidize baseball stadiums via tax exemptions for the owners, bonds or direct expenditure of tax dollars for the construction and operation of sports facilities. The fact such things exist is not exactly controversial, even if the reason for their existing is. No one actually claims, outside of a couple of examples, like San Francisco and some of the older parks, that ballparks are not at least in some ways subsidized by taxpayers.

But Yankees President Randy Levine. Does. Or at least he wants you to believe that and is willing to tell you that up is down and black is white in the hopes that you do.

That is apparent in Michael Powell’s interview with Levine in the New York Times. An interview in which Levine actually tries to argue that Yankee Stadium is like some mom and pop shop, built with the elbow grease of businessmen like himself as opposed to the dollars of taxpayers:

Mr. Levine opened our discussion with a big play.

“There are no subsidies,” he said.

He folded that hand soon enough. According to the city’s Independent Budget Office, the stadium received about $270 million in federal tax-exempt financing. There was an additional $58 million for the parking garages, which the Yankees don’t own but from which they benefit.

“The bonds don’t cost the city or the state anything,” Mr. Levine said. “It costs federal taxpayers all over the country.”

That might not comfort a taxpaying plumber in Tulsa.

The city and state gave the Yankees a $40 million sales tax exemption on their construction costs. Mr. Levine argues that the stadium now generates sales tax, which is true but is beside the point. Most women and men start businesses without government subsidies and pay sales tax.

Levine goes on to argue that other public assistance to the Yankees — the building of a train station, the granting them public parkland to build Yankee Stadium and the subsequent construction of another park to replace it — are all things that are good for the public. Gifts to them, even, that he sort of implies they should thank the Yankees for. In this Levine sounds like one of those crooked Enron executives who argued that liabilities on balance sheets were actually assets.

Powell is having none of this and explains how all of these things and many other aspects of the construction of Yankee Stadium were clearly functions of, in essence, public welfare. A spending of public money that many if not most people were no doubt happy with, but a spending of public money all the same. The issue isn’t whether it was a good idea to do all of this — people can totally think it was — it’s whether or not it was, in fact, a gift. All of which, Powell, points out, is rather rich when you hear Levine rail against revenue sharing as some sort of abhorrent form of socialism.

Which is pretty typical of the class of people who hang with Levine. Welfare? The use of tax dollars to assist others? Public works? Bah! That’s socialism! Unless of course they need it, then tax dollars freely given are just part of the genius of capitalism.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.