NEW YORK -- Yankees president Randy Levine has fired back at Texas Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg, calling him "delusional."
The message was direct: Mind your business and keep your team off "welfare."
Levine made his comments in response to Greenberg's opinion that the Rangers kept the chase for Cliff Lee going long enough for the Phillies to sneak in and take Lee from the clutches of New York to the National League.
"I think Chuck is delusional," Levine told ESPNewYork.com. "He has been running the Rangers for a few minutes and seems to believe he's mastered what everyone else is thinking. I think he should let Cliff Lee speak for himself. I'll be impressed when he demonstrates he can keep the Rangers off welfare. What I mean is make them not be a revenue-sharing recipient for three years in a row, without taking financing from baseball or advance money from television networks. Then I'll be impressed."
The Yankees and Rangers have been going at it in the board room and in the media ever since the Rangers beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees were chapped that Greenberg said Lee might not want to play in New York because of how the fans acted toward Lee's wife.
The Yankees, including part-owner Hal Steinbrenner, went to the airwaves and responded, calling out Greenberg. Now, Levine is taking on Greenberg again because the Rangers' owner said he was glad that Lee ended up in the NL and not with the Yankees.
"We didn't know specifically that Philadelphia was in on Cliff until the day he agreed to terms with Philadelphia," Greenberg said Sunday at Rangers Fan Fest. "But all along we thought if a mystery team would come forward that there was a pretty good chance that it would be Philadelphia.
"We had three different meetings with Cliff and his wife and his agent in Little Rock. At the very first meeting he spoke very highly of the experience he had pitching for the Phillies. And it was clear that pitching here and in Philadelphia were the two most enjoyable experiences of his career. Even though Philadelphia was probably not in, they were always in the back of our mind.
"I think if we wouldn't have gone to Arkansas that last time, I think he was going to sign with the Yankees. We pried the door open a little bit to give ourselves another opportunity. And ultimately the Phillies were able to take advantage of that opportunity that we created. While we would have preferred that he would have chosen to go with us, we're real pleased that he's going to the other league."
Greenberg, along with Nolan Ryan, completed the purchase of the Rangers this year, but the transaction was held up for quite some time, leading to Major League Baseball coming in to help the franchise pay its bills.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews contributed to this report.