Yes Censorship Points To Conflict In Yankee Front Office (UPDATED: RAB Statement)

[image title=”yankees-randy-levine-brian-cashman-17b796d2d3c4b7f1_large” size=”full” id=”24691″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]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.”

About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

14 thoughts on “Yes Censorship Points To Conflict In Yankee Front Office (UPDATED: RAB Statement)

  1. A split would definitely be bad for the organization, but I wouldn’t paint Levine as the boogey man quite yet. It seems like Levine is widely disliked (perhaps his political past has something to do with that), but I always feel compelled to point that he has been instrumental in helping the Yankees’ build the business, particularly with regard to the YES Network and the new Stadium. Obviously, he shouldn’t be a point person for player transactions, but on the whole, I conder Levine to be an asset to the organization.

    • No disagreement on the business side of things. The NYT article that I linked to had great things to say about that side of him. But the Yankees don’t exactly have a great history when ownership/business messes with baseball.

  2. Levine has helped but when it comes to players who to sign he needs to be told his opinions are noted but Cash has full control go talk to him.

  3. Those 2 blogs not denying this is confirming it. They have lost their objectivity. How are we supposed to take them seriously again as objective places for news and analysis?

    • I wouldn’t blame the RAB guys. They’re really good people who care a lot about their blog. Its YES that’s the problem here. And I think its probably an isolated incident – that why I wrote the post. They’re negative about Yankee moves all the time. But this seemed different.

  4. I really respect the RAB guys and they do a great job. I take their word about YES never editing anything on their site. The fact that they didn´t change, edit o take down any post speaks of their objectivity. BUT they´ve failed to explained about what happened and why YES took away the link or they took the YES bar form their site. Something happened and their silience only leads to more speculation.

    • That raises a question of whether we are to take RAB’s statement as a denial that is literally true but less than the whole story. For purposes of an example only (without any suggestion these words were ever uttered): “We’re not asking you to take anything down, but you have to understand we have a business problem here. . . .” I think RAB was better off just staying quiet about this. By saying a little more, you just raise new questions.

      • Why can’t it just be entirely true? YES never asked them to change anything, and just decided to pull their banner?

        • In my hypothetical, that is what happened. Surely there was something said when the edict came down that the banner comes down. Or did Peter Lorre suddenly appear in their offices, sweating profusely, bearing a curt note from YES saying that the banner comes down.

      • If that was the case, they were better off just declining any more future links to their site. They can´t be the subject of inestability in their relationship with YES. I doesn-t speak any good about them

  5. Great posting. I think RAB was in fact bullied and they are buying into their own bullshit that they can fly the Yes flag one day and keep putting out commercials. I rather have an honest blog to follow that will not crack and stray from the true essence of the blog which is the visitors of the blog. TYU is now the best blog and people should see it as such.

  6. Pingback: Pinstripe Bible and River Ave. Blues issue statements about the censorship allegations | HardballTalk