Steve Fisher of New York magazine was working on a story called “Chasing A-Rod” when he apparently uncovered several email exchanges between the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and team president Randy Levine. The emails are reported to be legitimate, although after reading them it’s hard not to wonder if they really are. Two days after Christmas, the world got to see what those emails said.
The exchanges span over a time period from May, 2011 to Aug., 2013. The tone of each ranges from polite and friendly to cold and bitter. Below are just a few isolated examples that display the variance in correspondence.
Levine in May, 2012 – “My friend, I have always believed that in difficult times there r two ways to go. The easy way, which is to make excuses, be defensive, or blame others and shut it down. The better way is to take the challenge, get mad, get determined, and shut everyone up and perform to greater levels. I believe in u. I believe u will hit those levels. It has been a tough year in injuries, tough losses, underperformance, but we need a leader, that is you. Take the lead, get these guys going, put a chip on your shoulder. When u succeed it will be Yankees lore. There is nothing more powerful than that. I am here to support u. Tell us what u need.”
Rodriguez in Aug., 2013 – “Can u please stop!! I want to play baseball and I could make a big difference to the game. Steinbrenner would roll in his grave IF he knew what was happening! Stop, Randy, this isn’t going to be good for any of us!! You are a businessman and what you are doing is ruining the business of baseball. If u want to meet in person to discuss it, let’s do it!”
My personal favorite from Levine in Aug, 2012 – “Hey, what’s up with Robby. This guy must not be using the liquid.”
Several things struck me about all of the emails. First, I am a little shocked by their texting-esque quality. There is a lot of “r” instead of “are” and “u” instead of “you.” I don’t know why, but I suppose I just expected more from the president of the most storied franchise in the history of sports. A-Rod’s overuse of exclamation points was a bit troubling as well.
Second, does Levine really think A-Rod is the leader of the Yankees? Last I checked, they have a captain and A-Rod is not him. A-Rod has, admittedly, done some great things for the Yankees, mostly during his early years. However, I don’t think any Yankee fans have ever considered him a leader of the team. He’s played second-fiddle to Derek Jeter in that department during his entire tenure.
Finally, steroid jokes? Even in what was thought to be a private email conversation, that seems wildly inappropriate. The existence of two steroid jokes in these supposed emails does make me doubt their legitimacy.
Then again, Levine hasn’t exactly painted the perfect picture of appropriateness this past year. There have been several occasions on which Levine talked to the media when he didn’t need to. There was that rumor about Levine telling a team doctor that he never wanted to see A-Rod on a baseball field again. Then there was that time A-Rod accused the Yankees of colluding with MLB to keep him out of the game. In both instances, Levine felt it necessary to respond publicly in what seemed to be defensive and even antagonistic tones. One has to wonder why he didn’t just go with a nice, clean “no comment” instead.
The release of these emails, whether legitimate or not, is just another embarrassing chapter in the A-Rod saga for the Yankees. While all the blame surely doesn’t rest on his shoulders, it would still be a relief if he never put on the pinstripes again.