I’ve avoided commenting much on Moshe’s post about how YES seemed to have put pressure on two of its blogs, River Ave Blues and The Pinstripe Bible, to wait to see if anyone involved with deny it. The YES Network’s official response was “no comment”, as was the official response from both the writers at River Ave Blues and the Pinstripe Bible. That they refused to deny that something went on, in my mind, is pretty close to confirmation that something did go on.
Some bloggers, promoted by YES, said that the Rafael Soriano deal was a bad decision. They weren’t particularly vitriolic about it, they just disagreed with the signing. At the same time, Brian Cashman publicly, although politely, disagreed with the signing. He said that it was a bad idea, and very blankly stated that he had nothing to do with it. Someone else in the Yankee organization went over his head and convinced ownership to make a bad move. Welcome back to the George Steinbrenner area.
It is significant because both RAB and the Pinstripe Bible blogs say negative things about the Yankees all the time, but this has never been a problem in the past. YES, correctly, doesn’t think that it costs the Yankees one cent to have a sponsored blog dissent every once in awhile. However, the Rafael Soriano signing somehow triggered a response from someone in the hierarchy. I think that it is possible that Randy Levine is the person behind it all. Levine is the President of the New York Yankees, and had been George Steinbrenner’s chief voice in the Yankee front office. Levine was the key player in Steinbrenner’s Tampa-based decision making team in the late Torre years, but eventually lost much of his influence as Steinbrenner grew old and Brian Cashman established his autonomous control of the front office. He was reported to be the person behind the signing. He’s also known to be a bit hotheaded and temperamental.
I suspect that Randy Levine was quite sensitive that his YES-sponsored blogs were saying bad things about his signing, and by extension him, and called up to yell at someone at YES. YES responded by telling Steve Goldman to take down and then heavily edit his post, and by removing RAB from the YES site for a couple of days.
This is important because it indicates a renewed power struggle within the Yankee front office. As William notes in this post, this kind of split would be a big problem for the Yankees. Baseball teams have to make moves with a focused, long term plan in mind. A two-headed monster leading the organization will not be good in the long term, regardless of what you think of the Soriano signing. It wasn’t all that long ago that Brian Cashman had to fight Randy Levine to not trade prospects, invest more in the draft, or make important personnel decisions (Notably, Guerrero vs. Sheffield). To make matters more complicated, Brian Cashman’s contract is up after this season.
We could be in for a rocky year.
Photo Credit: John Munson/The Star-Ledger
Updated by Moshe: I just received an official statement from RAB on this issue:
“The YES Network has no editorial control over the content produced by River Ave. Blues, and at no point during our relationship has YES ever asked us to edit or remove any post we’ve published on RAB.”