It’s Time to Shake up the Yankees’ Front Office
The Yankees franchise is turning up its profit margins, but turning off its fan base in the process.
The biggest story from the arbitration hearings this offseason was undoubtedly the newly-emerged feud between RP Dellin Betances and the Yankees’ front office. For those unfamiliar with the events of the past few days, the gist of the story is this: Betances and the Yankees had gone to salary arbitration, with Betances asking for $5 million and the Yankees countering with $3 million. The Yankees won the case, largely because of how dated the arbitration system is.
That should have been the end of the story, except that Yankees president Randy Levine decided to create bad blood where there had previously been none by going off on Betances and his agents.
Betances had been perfectly fine with how the hearing had gone until he heard Levine’s comments. As a result, he’s indicated that he’ll ask for an innings limit come this season and says that free agency “will be a little easier when the time comes.”
This is just another piece in a long line of embarrassing moments from the Yankees’ front office. Just last year, Levine lashed out at reporters, calling the notion of the Yankees selling at the deadline “nonsense” — right before they sold at the deadline.
Before then, Yankees COO Lonn Trost had insinuated that fans who bought discounted tickets didn’t deserve the seats they had purchased. These remarks occurred after backlash to the Yankees announcing the banning of “print at home tickets” — a move designed to cut Stubhub out of the Yankees’ ticket market. Doing so would have raised Yankees’ ticket profits, but made it significantly more difficult for fans to obtain tickets.
The Yankees front office has proven time and time again that they no longer give a damn about their fans, the media, or their players. Instead, they’ve shown that they care about profit, and little else. It may be true that baseball is a business — but by alienating their customers and trashing their employees, the Yankees are shooting themselves in the foot. Revenues and attendance for the Bronx Bombers have fallen to their lowest level since 2009.
The move to cut out Stubhub was inherently anti-fan, but from a financial perspective, it still made some sense. However, trashing Betances was a completely unnecessary move by Levine, and it makes the Yankees seem like a far less welcoming place for future free agents. The Yankees, despite undergoing a rebuild, are still a big-market team, and the promise of lucrative salaries helped draw big name free agents to Yankee Stadium. Now, prospective signees might think twice, knowing how the front office views their players.
The same goes with the media. Levine ripping reporters for speculating on a rebuild (speculation that turned out to be correct) again serves to alienate a valuable line-of-communication between the Yankees and their customers — the fans. As the current President of the United States has proved time and time again, insulting the media is no way to receive favorable coverage.
The front office for the Yankees has to stop looking at spreadsheets and start looking at the human aspect of baseball. Treating fans, players, and media with respect would raise profits for the Yankees far more than subverting and insulting them. It may be easy to rebuild a baseball team, but it’s far more difficult to rebuild a fan base.