For a while this off-season, it appeared as though the Yankees didn’t give a damn what people thought of them. Because even with lots of money coming off the payroll, and a long-planned-for new stadium ready to open, it just doesn’t look good to spend $423.5 million on three players and jack up ticket prices in the middle of a recession. It also doesn’t help when you follow this up by alienating your season-ticket holders while employing the new face of the Steroid Era.
But it seems the Yankees are now at least a little interested in how they’re perceived. For example, yesterday they banned Alex Rodriguez’s cousin — the one who supplied and injected him with steroids — from team premises. And sure, they only did this after he showed up to drive A-Rod home from a game earlier this week in a stunningly bad PR move. It’s not like anything bad would have happened if he continued to drive A-Rod around. It just would’t look good.
Then there was the business of the team’s long-anticipated sponsorship deal with Bank of America for a figure that would have approached the $20 million the Mets will get from Citibank each year, even though it wouldn’t have included stadium-naming rights. Bank of America, of course, has received $45 billion in government bailout money — so any arrangement would have been a publicity nightmare far worse than what the Mets went through. (At least their deal was signed before the economy went to hell.) And even though it appears the bank actually broke off negotiations, crisis averted either way. At the end of the day, they’ll still have A-Rod, and they’ll probably find some other megacorporation to pay them to plaster their name all over Yankee Stadium, but at least they’ve made the next couple of news cycles a bit less toxic.