Wow ... talk about blowing a statement out of proportion.
Yesterday, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber told the Associated Press Sports Editors that he'd noticed many unfilled seats at New York's two new baseball stadiums. The New York Yankees' premium seats were more than half-empty for the five games following their home opener.
"It's incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty," Garber said.
Many of these empty seats are due to the fact that tickets cost more than $2,500 a game.
Today, New York Yankees president Randy Levine blasted back.
"Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke," Levine said Friday. "We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.
"Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league," he said.
Told of Levine's comments, Garber explained his remark.
"When I mentioned the New York Yankees yesterday, my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses -- even the most successful sports entities -- are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn," Garber said through a league spokesman.
"The Yankees are one of the world's strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing," he said.
MLS averaged 16,460 for 210 regular-season games last year, a total of 3.46 million. The Yankees averaged 53,070 last year in the final season at the old Yankee Stadium, a total of 4.3 million.
MY POV: No wonder soccer's seen as a second-class sport in this country. It's these types of ignorant, vitriolic comments that place soccer in the background instead of at the forefront of the American sporting scene.
ESPN shows highlights of soccer goals on 'SportsCenter' and the commentators either get the player's names wrong or poke fun at the game.
Sports hosts like Jim Rome jump all over soccer every chance they get, for no other reason than they hate the sport. Why? Who knows?
Now, Randy Levine has to open his mouth about a statement meant to discuss the current economic climate, not the Yankees in particular.
I am a huge Yankees fan, but I can see why so many people hate them. Idiots like Levine should be hidden in the back - where they belong.
As for MLS, they're not the #1 sport or even the #5 sport in the United States. But they're surviving. People are going to the matches. And people don't need to spend $2,500 to watch a decent game.
Seems the people running baseball and the Yankees would do well to follow MLS and Don Garber's lead in that respect.