The gruesome twosome have said even more ridiculous things in the last two days to extend this story into even more news cycles. This, at the very same time the team is attempting to sell individual tickets for the 2016 season. Unbelievable.
I woke up this morning to see that Levine had run his mouth about Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. because Diaz is taking the fans' -- and StubHub's -- side in this ticket issue. Diaz's spokesman, John Desio, told the New York Daily News:
“The borough president is a lifelong Yankee fan. The borough president’s favorite player was Graig Nettles. He lives and dies by the Yankees as do many people in the borough, the city and the world. This new policy on tickets combined with their COO’s elitist comments are not very fan friendly for the borough president or anyone else who loves the Yankees.”So how did Levine respond? In a mature, adult fashion befitting his reputation. By which I mean, he lashed out like a frat boy with anger management issues, the way he usually does. (How is this guy in a position of authority, anyway? I wouldn't trust him to run the fry station at McDonald's without spilling grease on himself when flying off the handle!)
Levine told ESPN's Darren Rovell, who first reported on Diaz' stance:
“It doesn’t surprise me given that we’ve stopped his endless funding requests. It does surprise me because the only time he showed up to Yankee Stadium was when he was on official business when he was comped. I guess there are no greater problems in the Bronx, that he needs to spend time on, than ticketing.”How is this comment possibly productive? It doesn't even make any sense. What, exactly, would be the "endless funding requests" a Bronx borough president would ask the Yankees for? Wouldn't it be the other way around?
And you can't complain that Diaz rarely shows up at Yankee games, and then whine that "I guess there are no greater problems in the Bronx, that he needs to spend time on, than ticketing." Well, most of us would think that enabling his constituents in the poorest borough in the city to get decently priced tickets is kind of important.
UPDATE: Shortly after writing this Squawk, I received an email from Diaz's office containing a copy of a letter the borough president sent to Levine, criticizing the policy. It's a pretty strongly worded missive! Read it here.
That isn't the only time in recent days that Levine has flapped his gums. He and Trost recently talked to Bloomberg View sports columnist -- and Yankee fan -- Kavitha A. Davidson about the ticket policy. She writes about a less-discussed aspect of using mobile tickets. Fans will have to sign up at Ticketmaster, give the company personal information, and download an app in order to use the Yankees' mobile ticket feature. (I wrote about this last week, but she went to much greater detail on the new system and tried it out herself. "It seems there are still a few bugs to work out," she wrote.)
Anyhow, both Levine and Trost dismissed any concerns over the new policy. Levine insisted to the writer that third-party ticket brokers and StubHub are, Davidson writes, as "the source of much of the backlash against the new mobile system." Um, no, dude. Your team's fans are the main source of the backlash. Remember them?
In addition, according to the article, "Levine said Trost's comments were taken out of context and stressed that the Yankees' position is 'if you buy a legitimate ticket you're welcome to sit at Yankee Stadium,' whether or not you paid full price." Well, isn't that nice of them! And at any rate, we didn't take Trost's comments out of context. We took them in context. That's the problem!
Trost made let yet another elitist remark in insisting: "In today's world of millennials, I can't imagine anyone who's not smartphone savvy who wants to come to the ballpark," he said. "But when they do, they can get a hard-stock ticket." Oy. He needs to get out more.
Remember how Trost talked about Yankee fan ticket buyers who spent "a buck and a half" for premium tickets? I wrote that there was no way people were paying $1.50 a ticket for the fancy seats. But I missed an even more elitist remark that Trost was making with that. I have a friend who is a ticket broker. And he said that "a buck and a half" is a term in the business meaning $150. So Trost is looking down at fans who "only" spend $150 per Yankee ticket. For the rest of us, that sort of money for a three-hour regular season game is a splurge for a milestone birthday or something. In Trost's world, these people are the riff raff!
My friend Jason Keidel, who writes about sports for CBS New York, interviewed me this week about how a decision by the Yankees on February 15 to ban print-at-home tickets has morphed into a PR disaster for the team that is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps on going, and going, and going.
I talked about my part in that -- Squawking the next day about how the decision was about smashing StubHub and taking away fans' ability to buy tickets on the secondary market. Then I was interviewed for the New York Post the following day, and showed how Yankee fans were unhappy about this, at the very same time the team's spokesperson claimed that fans were thrilled over it. The very next morning, Yankees COO Lonn Trost popped up on WFAN to defend the policy, and blurted out his elitist opinion about Yankee ticket buyers.
This story has gone about as disastrously for the Yankees as anybody with a brain and common sense could have predicted. It's been raging for 10 days now, and shows no sign of abating. Are there any grownups in Yankeeland who will step in and stop this? Where is Hal Steinbrenner? What could possibly be more important for him to be doing than stopping this PR disaster? Good grief.