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A-Rod continues to lose, and Randy Levine doesn't help his cause.
We already knew that A-Rod and team president Randy Levine were conceivably "losers" this offseason for their respective transgressions: Rodriguez embroiled in the fiasco of appealing his unprecedented suspension while awaiting the arbitrator's ruling, and Levine playing the "I was kidding about what I said" game with his Mike Trout comments, as reported by Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
In case you missed it, Levine in mid-December was asked for his sentiments on Cano's signing with Seattle. While expanding on why the Yanks bent but didn't break on the 10-year super-deal to retain their 31-year-old second baseman, Levine said, "Now, if it was Mike Trout, I'd offer him a 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don't believe it makes sense."
Shortly thereafter, MLB decided to investigate Levine for possible tampering since Trout isn't a free agent until four years from now. And Levine's response was even better: "I was using it as an example of the type of player because of his age, we would consider giving a 10-year deal to," per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
What takes these two offseason "losers" and turns them into the two "biggest losers" of the winter, however, is a peculiar, embarrassing, uncomfortable and awkward email exchange between them that New York Magazine's Steve Fishman uncovered while reporting for his Dec. 9 cover story, "Chasing A-Rod."
If you grew sick of holiday movies the past few weeks, it's a shame you didn't get to sit back and laugh, squirm, double-take and squirm again at the emails, which can be read in excerpts here.
Fishman puts the Rodriguez-Levine email thread into context at the outset:
It goes without saying that, over the course of a Yankees tenure that included two MVP years and a world championship, numerous slumps and streaks, and a pair of drug scandals that have come to define [A-Rod's] career as much as his talent has, the men would have much to talk about, which they did primarily via e-mail.
There's having "much to talk about," and then there's having an incredibly weird relationship between yourself, as Yankees president, and your player, as the most embattled figure in the history of MLB.
In the excerpts from May 2011 to August 2013, Levine types like a gossiping teenager, not an MLB executive. From a 2011 game: "Hey, tough game, I'm worried about your health, u sure u r ok?"
And he exposes his strange reverential "friendship" that borders on being oddly patriarchal; for example after a 2012 game in which New York is shut out:
My friend, I have always believed that in difficult times there r two ways to go. ... I believe in u. I believe u will hit those levels. It has been a tough year ... 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.
A-Rod emails childlike essays in response that approach a level of companions who have recently parted ways. In February 2013:
Randy, [...] As you can imagine, I’m feeling left out, I can’t be with the team at spring training and this leaves an empty hole in my life. And on top of that I’m dealing with the backlash of all these ugly rumors and false stories. [...] Of course I am very concerned about these rumors and about what the team is doing and saying about me. ... I hope this [e-mail] is the start of us clearing the air between us. I don’t want us to be enemies. I am loyal to the team. I only want the best for the Yankees organization. But I do need reassurance from you and I need to know what is going on.
Again, this is a player emailing the team president—of the New York Yankees.
I encourage you to read the rest, which is all sort of shocking and unapologetic. It even includes Levine "joking" in August 2012, "Hey, what’s up with Robby. This guy must not be using the liquid."
In August 2013, after their mutual mistrust had bubbled over, A-Rod begs, "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!"
So congrats to Randy Levine and A-Rod on the "biggest losers of the offseason" honors. Hopefully the former slides back behind the scenes—not his keyboard. And it would be nice to have a healthy A-Rod back in the lineup, but it would also be beneficial if he falls out of relevancy for the next 211 games.