SBD/Issue 37/Franchises

Greenberg Apologizes For Derogatory Comments About Yanks Fans

Greenberg Did Not Receive A Fine From
MLB For Comments About Yankees Fans

Rangers Owner Chuck Greenberg last night formally apologized to MLB and the Yankees for derogatory comments he made earlier yesterday on ESPN Radio in Dallas regarding Yankees fans' behavior during the ALCS. On the "Ben and Skin Show," Greenberg said, "I thought Yankees fans, frankly, were awful. They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I've seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment." MLB executives privately were angered by the remarks, as expected, and quickly pressed Greenberg to apologize both publicly and to the Yankees. A chastened Greenberg did just that, recanting the comments, and as a result did not receive a fine from MLB. "Earlier today, in the course of praising the extraordinary support and enthusiasm of Texas Rangers fans, I unfairly and inaccurately disparaged fans of the New York Yankees," Greenberg said in a formal statement. "Those remarks were inappropriate. Yankees fans are among the most passionate and supportive in all of baseball. I have spoken directly to [Yankees co-Chair & Managing General Partner] Hal Steinbrenner and [President] Randy Levine to apologize for my intemperate comments. I would like to express again how proud we are of our fans and how remarkably they have supported the Rangers throughout lean times and now during this magical season." The Yankees, for their part, did not engage in the issue yesterday, though it was expected prior to the Greenberg apology that some response would have come after the World Series. "At this time, we are honoring the commissioner's policy regarding respecting and not distracting from the World Series," the club said in a statement (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

FIRST SHOT IN BIDDING WAR? In N.Y., Mark Feinsand cites a source as saying that the Yankees are "likely to have plenty to say about Greenberg's comments once the Fall Classic is over." A source said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig gave Greenberg a "one-time pass because of his status as a rookie owner." Feinsand writes with free agent P Cliff Lee "expected to be the object of a bidding war between the Yankees and Rangers, Greenberg's comments may have simply been part of his plan to convince the lefty that Texas is a better option for him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/2). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes Lee's wife, Kristin, last week said that the Rangers' wives "were taunted, spit at, and had beer thrown at them" during ALCS games at Yankee Stadium. Greenberg's "attack could serve to intensify the battle for Lee in free agency" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/2). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes of Greenberg, "It's obvious what he's doing here, right? This is a message to Lee. ... This was surely a reminder to Lee that his wife and some other Rangers wives were allegedly treated in less than chivalrous terms by a handful of infidels during the AL Championship Series. Surely, it was a shot across the bow to the Yankees." Greenberg "sank to the dumbest levels of talk-radio idiocy with this one, sounding like Chuck-from-Irving, first-time, longtime" (N.Y. POST, 11/2). But in Dallas, Barry Horn writes he believes the "PR-savvy owner" was "speaking from his heart" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/2).

DON'T MAKE IT MORE THAN IT IS: WFAN-AM’s Mike Francesa said, “This is a man who has owned the team for 15 minutes. ... We have got to cut Chuck a little slack for this reason. He's owned the team for 10 minutes. He's not used to the limelight. He doesn't realize that you don't go on radio shows and say stupid things like this. You watch the words you use. You don't speak in blatant generalities." Francesa added, “Don't get all overheated with this. You treat it with a grain of salt and realize the guy's a rookie. He made a rookie mistake" ("Mike Francesa," YES Network, 11/1).

KERNEL OF TRUTH: In N.Y., John Harper writes Greenberg "shouldn't pretend as if New York is the jungle and every other stadium is full of peace, love and understanding." But there is "no doubt the atmosphere at the Stadium is rowdier and edgier than" at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Part of it "seems to be that some Yankee fans seem to think it's their responsibility to create a hostile environment -- and live up to their reputation as a tough crowd." Harper writes, "It is hard to be too indignant about Greenberg's comments. They were inappropriate for someone in his position, obviously, which is no doubt why he apologized, but there was also some truth to them" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/2). However, WFAN-AM's Craig Carton asked, "In other words, one guy accidentally spills a beer on Cliff Lee's wife, next thing you know we're all violent and we're all embarrassing?" ("Boomer & Carton," MSG, 11/2).

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