NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees president Randy Levine defended Yankee Stadium as a proper home for the Pinstripe Bowl as he rattled off the list of great college football moments at both versions of the venue. Knute Rockne coached in the old one. Notre Dame played in the new one.
"This bowl is a part of the holiday season now in New York,'' Levine said.
So are temperatures in the low 20s at kickoff.
But even with the field chalked with hash marks instead of foul lines as Boston College and Iowa played Wednesday night, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was in his office working on 2018. The offseason haul so far has been pretty good: the NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton and a new manager in Aaron Boone.
"I think Cash and the baseball people did a great job,'' Levine said Wednesday. ``I know he's upstairs working. He's not finished. We're hopeful there's more stuff to be done before spring training and opening day.''
The Yankees acquired Stanton from the payroll-shedding Marlins and new CEO Derek Jeter. He led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs last season, numbers dwarfed by the $295 million he's owed over the final decade of his record $325 million, 13-year contract.
"I think he's been a huge addition. He's the MVP of the National League,'' Levine said. "He's a great player and our fan base is excited. We're doing very well, selling a lot of tickets.''
The Yankees could be a long ball and box-office smash: Stanton should form a potent 1-2 punch with AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge in the middle of the lineup. The retooled Yankees went 91-71 this season, their best record since 2012, and reached the ALCS before losing to Houston in seven games.
"This team has a lot of personality,'' Levine said. "There's a lot of great, great young players that really came together. We've got a great manager. I think Giancarlo Stanton will fit in really well with everybody.''
The Stanton deal had some in baseball ready to resuscitate the "Evil Empire'' moniker that was slapped on them in 2002. Levine laughed off the idea that it's fun to hate the Yankees again.
"As long as we're relevant and people are thinking about us, that's the best part,'' he said.
The Yankees are already planning for 2019.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner repeatedly has said New York intends to get under next year's tax threshold of $197 million, which would reset the team's base tax rate from 50 percent to 20 percent in 2019, the first season after Bryce Harper and Manny Machado potentially become free agents.
"We're the Yankees,'' Levine said. "We always want to get better.''