Four Finger Discount: Rudy and the Rings

Though this blog avoids politics for the most part, this story by Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice reveals some seriously questionable decisions by one of the country’s most prominent politicians, one of New York’s icons, and one the Yankees’ biggest fans.  Barrett details the saga of four World Series rings purchased by Rudolph Giuliani, along with a skeptical investigation of our former Mayor’s game-attending practices.  The story uncovers an extremely suspect relationship between a fan/politician and the team he grew up rooting for, and concludes with details about how this tightness had some very serious financial ramifications for the Bombers and their new stadium endeavor.  It’s a long story, followed up this week in another piece with response from Giuliani and others.   

Like Giuliani or not (full disclosure: we don’t, at all), these investigative pieces are a telling view into the ethical morass that is big city politics and an indictment of the values of a presidential front-runner, someone who doesn’t seem to be able to clearly delineate being a fan from being a pawn, or who simply doesn’t care about drawing the line in any way.  The Yankees, like many other franchises who treat the public interest as a collateral benefit trickling down from the profits of their own greed, did their best to take advantage of having a Mayor who loved the team, abusing this convenient relationship at the expense of New York City. 

36 comments… add one

  • Pigs at the public trove.

    walein May 16, 2007, 12:58 pm
  • Ugh, fortunately the GOP will never elect him to be the candidate, simply because of things like these and the fact that he’s a flaming liberal in any southern state. He has way too many skeletons in his closet.
    It’s looking more and more like Mitt Romney will be the guy for the GOP, despite his Mormon affiliation. I can’t say I’m pleased about that either.

    Andrew May 16, 2007, 1:39 pm
  • This has nothing to do with sports. Who cares? Think he is the only politician who has scmmed rings?
    I hate politics and sports; comments like
    “fortunately the GOP will never elect him to be the candidate, simply because of things like these and the fact that he’s a flaming liberal in any southern state.”
    serve no purpose other than perpetuating regional stereotypes.

    Tom sf May 16, 2007, 1:47 pm
  • “who’s that guy at baseball games nobody likes?….billy crystal” -one of my favorite quotes ever.

    sf rod May 16, 2007, 2:09 pm
  • Think he is the only politician who has scmmed rings?
    Well, if you read the article it’s pretty clear that yeah, he might be the only politician to “scam” rings, in possible violation of the most basic ethics rules.
    The Yankees were complicit in this, which is the point. The team used their relationship and Giuliani’s devotion to the team to screw the public out of millions in funds. This is not just politics-as-usual, and is relevant to the issues we discuss at the site.

    SF May 16, 2007, 2:25 pm
  • While this has to do with the Yankees, the article focuses almost completely on Giuliani, and is much more an indictment on his character than on the Yankees (the Yankees don’t make the policy or spend the city’s money), who were accommodating and taking advantage of a schmuck.

    Andrew May 16, 2007, 3:25 pm
  • A fascinating article, SF. Thanks for the link.
    Argue about stereotypes all you want, Tom, but Giuliani will not have the support of southern Republicans — he’s far too liberal. That’s not good or bad on either side. It just is. He’s also managed the rare and almost-impossible feat of pissing off both sides of the abortion debate, so I doubt he’d be electable even if he could win the GOP nomination.

    Paul SF May 16, 2007, 3:30 pm
  • I don’t think Rudy will win the nomination, either, for a lot of reasons, most of them good reasons. I was objecting to the characterization of southerners as being knee-jerk right-wingers. The most hard line right wingers I have ever encountered were in New Hampshire (Anyone remember Gov. Meldrim Thompson?). I have spent over 20 years in the northeast, and over 20 years in the south; I find the idea of southerners being bible thumping creationist John Birchers to be a tired cliche.
    As for whether Rudy’s balls are unique; well unless the Village Voice investigated W.S. ring dispersal over the past 10 or 20 years, there is no basis for saying his procurement was even unusual. But maybe I am more cynical than SF.

    Tom sf May 16, 2007, 4:06 pm
  • I don’t mean to be argumentitive, esp. about politics. I just find it to be a non-sports story. The NY Post will probably do a baseball related hit piece on Hillary next. The Yankees losing to Chicago 5-2 is more interesting.

    Tom sf May 16, 2007, 4:11 pm
  • I have spent over 20 years in the northeast, and over 20 years in the south; I find the idea of southerners being bible thumping creationist John Birchers to be a tired cliche.
    I lived 17 years in Connecticut and now have spent the last seven in Texas, where I live currently, Tom. Like you, I despise the cliches of the South expressed in political and entertainment media on a fairly routine basis. I know plenty of thoughtdul, intelligent people on both sides of the political divide in both regions of the country. It’s one of the reasons I’ve grown so tired of the lazy “red state-blue state” tripe. Most states are purple, with really only the District of Columbia and Utah adhering to any monolithic voting trend.
    It sounds like you didn’t really read the article, Tom. The Voice did research the disbersement of World Series rings from 1996 on, and the Yankees rings are the only ones to have wound up with the mayor of the city whose team won a championship.

    Paul SF May 16, 2007, 4:15 pm
  • “It’s one of the reasons I’ve grown so tired of the lazy “red state-blue state” tripe. Most states are purple,”
    Amen, Paul!

    Nick-YF May 16, 2007, 4:20 pm
  • Paul, you are right, when I first read the post here, the only link that worked on my screen was for the follow up article. Ultimately, I still don’t care about Rudy’s balls. Or where he bought them and for how much. Perhaps one of his ex-wives took his original set. Or, maybe leaving them was part of his seperation package when he left the FBI. Or maybe he loaned them to Bloomberg.

    Tom sf May 16, 2007, 5:38 pm
  • Paul, you are right, when I first read the post here, the only link that worked on my screen was for the follow up article. Ultimately, I still don’t care about Rudy’s balls. Or where he bought them and for how much. Perhaps one of his ex-wives took his original set. Or, maybe leaving them was part of his seperation package when he left the FBI. Or maybe he loaned them to Bloomberg.

    Tom sf May 16, 2007, 5:41 pm
  • Makes you yearn for a corruption-free city light Boston… How’s the big dig going nowadays anyway?

    Brian Sadecki May 16, 2007, 6:11 pm
  • About as well as the Freedom Tower, Brian, I imagine.
    I did find the fact that the Yankees annually swindled NYC out of millions of dollars to be interesting. Roger Clemens says thanks.

    Paul SF May 16, 2007, 6:18 pm
  • Bah, I shouldn’t have responded to Brian’s cheap shot, which is really silly, as if any discussion about New York or the Yankees must in turn be a zero-sum discussion about Boston or the Red Sox. That’s immature thinking, frankly. I’m sorry I partook in that.

    Paul SF May 16, 2007, 6:19 pm
  • Did the Sox make money off the Big Dig? I don’t see the relevance to Boston, other than the corruption/ethical challenge issue, but that’s a simple false equivalency which frankly isn’t pertinent or correct. The Yankees abusing the public trust and exploiting a fan/mayor to save millions is perfectly relevant, particularly at this site where’s there’s been some discussion about the necessity and wisdom of building a new Yankee Stadium. That some people don’t care about ethical governance (as Tom says he doesn’t, above) is incredibly damaging and quite cynical.

    SF May 16, 2007, 6:24 pm
  • Yankees are a business. They abuse the public trust like any other corporation. I remember the Red Sox also trying to build a new stadium. See this link:
    http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/american/bosbpk.htm
    The difference was that the Bostonians had public officials who didn’t buy the hokum that Sox CEO Harrington was selling.
    It didn’t help that in 1999 that the Sox had no recent rings to bribe anyone with.
    Note: I am not defending the Yanks. I opposed the bid to build that new Yankee stadium like I opposed the bid to bring the Olympics to New York (which would have moved Yankee Stadium to Manhattan).
    I am merely pointing out that any corporation has a fiduciary responsiblity to abuse the public trust as long as it maximizes profits.

    johnmeister May 16, 2007, 6:53 pm
  • Since when do the Yankees own and control the city’s money? Saying they swindled anyone out of anything is silly, the government of New York controls policy and cash flow. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if the government of Boston, or any city, were so loose with their money the Sox, or any other team, wouldn’t be happy to take it.

    Andrew May 16, 2007, 6:54 pm
  • The striking thing about Giuliani taking the Yankee rings is his hypocrisy:
    “When a buildings department deputy commissioner was indicted in 2000 for taking Mets and Rangers tickets, as well as a family trip to Florida, from a vendor, an outraged Giuliani denounced his conduct as “reprehensible,” particularly “at high levels in city agencies,” and said that such officials had to be “singled out” and “used as examples.” ”
    Disclosure: I don’t like Giuliani and I have lived in NYC since 1989 and a Yankee fan for longer. I think Giuliani is the most likely candidate sell our Constitution for the perception of security.

    johnmeister May 16, 2007, 7:25 pm
  • Andrew:
    This isn’t a Boston vs. New York item. I live in New York, so this is something I actually have an interest in personally. I didn’t post this because it made Boston or the Red Sox look any better, I posted it because it was news, it involved the Yankees (partly the subject of this site), and because it cut to some issues we’ve discussed here.
    I wish everyone would stop making assumptions that everything we post is zero-sum, if I post about New York that it is subtextually supposed to about how great Boston, or vice versa with our YF posters. That is simply not the case.
    This item is newsworthy, NYC and baseball-related. That’s it. Boston is irrelevant here.

    SF May 16, 2007, 7:47 pm
  • I am merely pointing out that any corporation has a fiduciary responsiblity to abuse the public trust as long as it maximizes profits.
    Talk about damaging and cynical! This is not only an incorrect generalization, it’s outright ridiculous. Do some corporations abuse the public trust because it will make them more money? Yes, sometimes catastrophically so (see, Enron). But these are far and away the minority of businesses, even if they are highly publicized. Part of making money for most businesses includes keeping your customers’ trust, not abusing it as you so perplexingly allege.

    Paul SF May 16, 2007, 8:27 pm
  • “Most states are purple”
    Jerry Fallwell is most certainly turning in his recent grave.

    attackgerbil May 16, 2007, 8:36 pm
  • Fallwell..Falwell.. meh. I golfed (horribly) today and have nothing intelligent to add to this thread. Why concern myself with spelleng?

    attackgerbil May 16, 2007, 8:38 pm
  • It’s worth noting that Randy Levine, a Giuliani deputy mayor, is now the Yankee team president. The relationships between many MLB teams and the city governments in which they operate are often disturbingly cozy, and complex. I’m not sure this article is particularly revelatory, though, true to VV tradition, it’s rather sensationalist. The relationship between Rudy and the Yanks was hardly a secret during his administration, when the team was lobbying him for new digs.

    YF May 16, 2007, 9:45 pm
  • The best scamming of a ring by a politician has to be the time Putin stole Kraft\’s ring right in front of him. Just dropped it right in his pocket – no pretense or anything. A bitch slap and a theft all rolled into one. And even better: Kraft had to release a statement saying it was gift.
    Hilarity.

    Brad May 17, 2007, 6:32 am
  • certainly if any of the allegations of wrongdoing are substantiated and properly evidenced, then the matter will be vigorously prosecuted…until then, it’s of little interest…must’ve been a slow news day at the v v…rumors of political corruption are hardly news anymore, nor are the allegations of miscellaneous yankee indiscretions…another opportunity to take a swipe at america’s most hated sports franchise….zzzzzzz

    dc May 17, 2007, 8:23 am
  • “Do some corporations abuse the public trust because it will make them more money? Yes, sometimes catastrophically so (see, Enron). But these are far and away the minority of businesses”
    Sorry buddy, but that completely utopian view is just not true at all. The public trust in corporations is based on the product they deliver, how good its quality and how reliable the company is in delivering it. I could name off several companies off the top of my head that abuse loopholes in the system but still people come flocking to it because the product is still good. Microsoft (antitrust), Intel (antitrust), every oil company in the world (price gouging, collusion), every company that has outsourced jobs to save a bit of cash (taking away jobs from Americans…aka the public).
    Every single company in the world serves itself and its stockholders first. The only thing the public cares about is the product it delivers. Needless to say, the Yankees have delivered enough to keep people flocking back, no matter how the New York government chooses to spend its money.

    Andrew May 17, 2007, 9:14 am
  • < "Most states are purple">
    “Jerry Fallwell is most certainly turning in his recent grave.”
    LOL!
    “It’s worth noting that Randy Levine, a Giuliani deputy mayor, is now the Yankee team president.”
    Ok, I take back my ealier comment. This story has obvious relevence.
    “Yankees are a business. They abuse the public trust like any other corporation.”
    “Every single company in the world serves itself and its stockholders first.”
    Speaking as the owner of a business, this is crap. Pure and unadulterated.

    Tom sf May 17, 2007, 10:35 am
  • I could name off several companies off the top of my head that abuse loopholes in the system but still people come flocking to it because the product is still good. Microsoft (antitrust), Intel (antitrust), every oil company in the world (price gouging, collusion), every company that has outsourced jobs to save a bit of cash (taking away jobs from Americans…aka the public).
    So you say you can name companies off the top of your head, then name companies and industries that hold effective monopolies in their respective field. Monopolies have no need to hold their customers’ trust, and again, finding the three or four most egregious examples is in no way any kind of proof that all are like that. Otherwise, I can go by the three or four biggest d*ckbag Yankee fans I’ve known in my life and say, “All Yankee fans are d*ickbags.” Generalizations based on a handful of extreme examples are rife in today’s society, but it doesn’t make them any more correct to engage in.
    I am in no way a utopian idealist with grand rosy visions about the perfection of capitalism and the free-market system. But to smear all businesses with the greed brush because of the actions of a few is ridiculous on its face, and frankly more properly in the domain of conspiracy theory.

    Paul SF May 17, 2007, 10:53 am
  • I am with Tom and Paul, I am also a business owner. The blanket generalization about abuses of power and trust is absurd.
    As for the charge of “sensationalism”, this story is not that. It is fact-based, it discloses the gray areas as well as where certain facts are not known. Dismissing stories like this under the auspices of “hey, corruption exists, deal with it” is, to me, cynical beyond belief. Of course corruption exists, and it always will. But that doesn’t mean we should just chalk things up to human nature and let things slide.
    I also find it pretty surprising and disappointing that YF is so dismissive of these stories and, in my opinion, insubstantially so, considering he’s already on the record here strenuously objecting to the new Yankee Stadium. Just playing it off as “typical Voice sensationalism” is thin criticism, at best. It would seem that thess abuses of the public trust were all part of the grander machinations that led to the Yankees making the move to destroy the existing field that he loves so much and start their new building endeavor, and I can’t believe this seems to matter not a whit to YF.

    SF May 17, 2007, 11:18 am
  • It mattered many whits, SF, but that ship has sailed, the horse has left the barn….choose your metaphor. I don’t take the malfeasance lightly. But, again, the fact that Rudy was a bit too close to the Yanks was no secret, and widely reported at the time.
    I’m not a huge fan of Rudy, but his legacy as a mayor is certainly mixed. The cozy dealings with the Yankees is not one of the more appealing parts of that story.
    The Yankee run after the attack on NY was a big boost to the city, and of course Rudy was a hero at that time. It felt right for him to be there, then. But his willingness to exploit that attack for his political benefit now is disturbing.

    YF May 17, 2007, 11:43 am
  • “But to smear all businesses with the greed brush because of the actions of a few is ridiculous on its face, and frankly more properly in the domain of conspiracy theory.”
    So I must name and document 50% of all publicly-owned businesses’ ‘public trust violations’ in order to appease you? Nearly every company that manufactures goods has sent its jobs overseas because poor-as-shit Indians and kids in factories are cheaper than hiring unionized Americans. Nike is another good example. Haven’t you read the stories of all these companies sending their business overseas to save a bit of cash? Doesn’t that hurt public trust, that a company would take jobs away from Americans simply because it’s cheaper? The bottom line for any corporation is profit. As long as they don’t break laws, and continue to provide a good and reliable service or product, the ‘public trust’ will be there.
    I’m a bit skeptical about all these Sox fans moral qualms about the Yankees, being so willing to discredit them based on a schmuck of a mayor. The most you could say about them is that they found loopholes in the tax system and wrote off certain expenses as refundable. Unfortunately for everyone’s point, the city decided to sign off on it. I’ve said it before – the Yankees absolutely do not control or own the city’s money. The government does, and the people of the city who elect them. Rudy decided to take the free tickets the Yankees offered him, and the rings, and everything else. Bloomburg decided it was ethically correct to pay for the seats the Yankees set aside for him. Certainly other government officials have been offered free things by every major league team, it’s on the government official to decide if it breaks ethical codes. The Yankees are not elected officials, those ethics laws don’t apply to them. The article even stresses that the onus is on Rudy, and barely focuses on the Yankees’ own faults. To try and spin it around and say the Yankees are at fault and should be ashamed of taking money and advantages that were given to them (What should they say? ‘Oh, look, the Mets aren’t being given the same treatment as us, you should take care of them before giving us anymore money.’ Yeah right.) is intellectually irresponsible.

    Andrew May 17, 2007, 11:49 am
  • I’m a bit skeptical about all these Sox fans moral qualms about the Yankees, being so willing to discredit them based on a schmuck of a mayor.
    Seriously, please give up this “us vs. them” thing. If the Sox or Tom Menino engage in similar practices and there are news stories about it, you can be DAMN sure we’ll post about it. This has nothing to do with anything resembling a SF’s sense of moral superiority, so stop creating a straw man.
    And I am completely sick of the “everyone does it” excuse. It’s a meaningless explanation.
    To wit: I worked with the GSA on a project several years ago as their Architect. While on a business trip, we went out to lunch. I offered to buy lunch, not knowing this was against their rules. It was like $75 for the entire lunch. The GSA employees refused to accept this in any way, disclosing the conflict. It’s not very hard to do this. For someone like Giuliani to take advantage of gray areas (or to break the rules entirely, if that’s what he did), is unconscionable. For the Yankees to exploit this is capitalistic but also a violation of the public trust. That’s not to say this is unexpected or not commonplace amongst certain types of companies, but that’s still no excuse.

    SF May 17, 2007, 12:21 pm
  • Nearly every company that manufactures goods has sent its jobs overseas because poor-as-shit Indians and kids in factories are cheaper than hiring unionized Americans. Nike is another good example. Haven’t you read the stories of all these companies sending their business overseas to save a bit of cash?
    Again, you’re generalizing based on the actions of the few, then extrapolating that to say: “nearly every company” and “all these companies.” The threat of outsourcing, though not a welcome development in the global economy, has been overstated largely because of the same phenomenon you’re exhibiting here — looking at the actions of the largest companies and drawing conclusions to the rest of the business world that are not accurate.

    Paul SF May 17, 2007, 12:50 pm
  • “Nearly every company that manufactures goods has sent its jobs overseas because poor-as-shit Indians and kids in factories are cheaper than hiring unionized Americans. Nike is another good example. Haven’t you read the stories of all these companies sending their business overseas to save a bit of cash?”
    Not only is this another gross generalization, it also displays ignorance of basic economics. Many (not all) companies shift production to other countries because thay must compete in the global marketplace, and to manufacture or buy everything domestically would render them non-competitive. In other words, they would go bankrupt.
    A small scale example: I was looking for a plastics company to manufacture a product to my specs. I tried 5 different US companies – not a single one could produce what I needed correctly. I found a plant in Taiwan that will manufacture according to my specs for a lower cost than any of the US companies. Regretfully, I must use the Taiwan manufacturer or not sell this product.
    But enough of this – there is a game on!!

    Tom sf May 17, 2007, 1:52 pm

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