The Yankees front office has taken a spotlight role in baseball this week following the arbitration hearing for Dellin Betances. The reliever filed at $5 million, but having lost the arbitration hearing, will earn (dare I say) only $3 million in 2017. The Yankees’ victory in the hearing is not exactly news in itself, considering even $3 million dollars is a record high for a setup man on his first trip through arbitration. Instead, the source of the commotion is the remarks and behavior of Yankees president Randy Levine.
During the hearing Levine stated that if Betances is worth $5 million dollars, he’s an astronaut. “I’m not an astronaut,” he said, “and Dellin Betances is not a closer, at least based on statistics.”
While the $2 million dollar short-change doesn’t make me feel too bad for Betances, the treatment he received from Levine does. “They take me in a room and they trash me for about an hour and a half,” he said, “I thought that wasn’t fair.” Betances’ representative Jim Murray even claims Levine referred to the player as “Dylan Betances” throughout the hearing.
If the Yankees front office is not made up entirely of Mr. Monopoly’s evil twin brothers, circumstances would certainly have it appear that way. Around this time last year, Yankee Stadium banned the use of print-at-home tickets, telling StubHub users to instead transfer their tickets to a mobile device. This system, while it protects the Yankees, alienates a demographic of second-hand ticket buyers who are not smartphone friendly. While anyone can access a computer and printer by means of a public library, not everyone can afford (or operate) a smartphone.
While the team claimed the move was made for the sake of combating ticket fraud, (which was apparently a problem or something) Yankees COO Lonn Trost made a few comments that may have revealed some classist motives hidden in the ban.
“It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and (another) fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount.”
Trost shows great concern for the pampering of the upper class Yankee fan, and little concern for the blue collar fan demographic, or even for the counterfeit ticket issue.
“And quite frankly, the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”
The Yankees official ticket resale site is Ticketmaster, which has a price floor for resold tickets. Unlike StubHub, where tickets can be priced as low as you like, Ticketmaster’s prices are more directly correlated to the quality of the seat. The pricing system effectively matches you up with seats that reflect the depth of your pockets. This better accommodates the ideals of someone like Trost, who believes the rich shouldn’t have to be subjected to the company of the lower class at a ballpark.
Having some seasoned foot-tasters in the Yankee employ has contributed to the team’s (probably) unintentional re-branding as the bougiest team in baseball. The team’s 2009 stadium rebuild fits the look too, nearly tripling the amount of private luxury suites in the park, while knocking 6,000 other seats off the general capacity.
The Yankees continue to be the wealthiest team in baseball for as long as anyone can remember, and have the second most expensive ballpark to spend an evening at. (Approximately $370 for a family of four, 59% more expensive than league average.) Considering that 21% of Yankees fans are blue collar workers, it’s probably in the team’s best interest to take active strides in combatting this developing stigma.