by Mickey Charles
CEO, The Sports Network
The fact of the matter is that I was never a fan of Phil Jackson either. Give me Michael, Scottie and the supporting cast they had, not to mention Kobe and Shaq plus some pretty fair players around them and I will provide you with rings, bangles, baubles and beads overflowing.
Which brings us to Joe Torre. Having been born in the Bronx, pinstripes, as with green blood in Philadelphia and sky blue eyes in Los Angeles, are a way of life. One becomes accustomed to titles and world championships with unerring regularity. It comes with the territory, while the rest of the sports world berates, envies and criticizes it, using the tired and worn-out refrain of ?the best team[s] that money can buy.? Funny, those of us that are Yankee fans always thought that the American way, from school to corporate existence, was to achieve the highest standards possible, win awards, earn lots of money and be at the top of your game, whatever that might be, without doing anything illegal.
Joe Torre's clubs have made the playoffs 11 straight years, but that streak might by in jeopardy this year.
Chevy, apple pie, mother and capitalism.
Torre?s Yankees won their share of titles but not because of him; rather, in spite of him. That is not, as someone will hasten to say, hindsight. It is fact. The man?s management skills have always been in question and the spotlight on that was dimmed for years by the accomplishments of the team. That 40 watt bulb has just become a beacon that punctuates all the failings of the man.
When the Democrats took control of Congress, the Thursday, November 9, 2006 edition Of The Independent in Dublin, Ireland, displayed a head shot of George W. Bush with the following headline ? ?It?s the War, Stupid.? In the case of the Yankees and Torre, coupled with some erroneous decisions by Brian Cashman, General Manager, it is the pitching - plain, pure and simple.
In the first 15 losses suffered by the Bronx Bombers this year, they were ahead in 13 of them. They have used more starting pitchers than any other team in recent memory up to this point. The decision to bring back Roger Clemens is fraught with pot holes until he takes the mound, at which time ? under the pro rated salary agreement in place ? he will be earning approximately $7,500 for each pitch thrown. In the 40's and 50's, that figure was a signing bonus for many and the starting salary for others.
Desperation has turned into impetuous. Reckless is now coupled with imprudent. Frenzy may have led to madness. Urgent pressure translates to defeatism and despair.
The truth here is that the Romans had nothing on the fans of today?s sport. As you know, one of the most famous buildings in Rome was the Colosseum, where over 50,000 people watched Christians being forced to engage in losing battles with lions and other assorted animals. They had nothing on the folks in the stands these days when their heroes are losing. That is as true of New York as it is of Boston and Philadelphia, although the Eagles? faithful, in the City of Brotherly Love, would probably like to see some lions out there from time to time.
As for Boston, where they are looking at their first success in 86 years as an annual rite of Fall and have created a totally baseless and apocryphal ?Red Sox Nation,? please!! Comparing their bandbox ballpark to anything professional in Major League Baseball is akin to equating a quill pen to one of today?s computers, a model-T to a Ferrari or the Kitty Hawk to landing on the moon. It is a schoolyard stadium that protects the ineptitudes and fielding failings of folks like Manny Ramirez.
Boston's Fenway Park is one of the oldest ballparks in baseball.
What does that have to do with the Yankees? Perception. The Red Sox, despite their lead in the AL East as this is being written, are not the finest ball club in baseball, or even the division. It is just that the others ? New York, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay ? are playing below .500 and at Little League level.
Athletes today are better conditioned than ever before and phrases such as ?complete game? have gone the way of the phonograph and silent movies. Someone decided that 100 pitches was the breaking point beyond which a starter could not go regardless of the score, being on the verge of a no-hitter or perfect game, or feeling as though he could pitch the second half of a doubleheader. When did it become part of baseball tenets and standards, hand-fed by Joe Torre, that you must have a 7th-inning pitcher, followed by an 8th and, finally, the 9th inning savior or closer?
Why are there still Spring training tryouts at this time of the year for the Yankees? Hasn?t anyone informed the manager that the season is well underway and their ship is beginning to look like the Titanic after the lifeboats have been lowered into the water?
Will Nieves is batting anywhere from .025-.037 and Torre starts him now and then? Does the back-up catcher have negatives of the manager on the farm? Miguel Cairo is at .125 or so and is still suiting up instead of spending his time on the golf course.
Who concocted the nightmare that is Carl Pavano, a man that belongs on Grey?s Anatomy instead of the NY roster? Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth are as predictable as Kansas weather and could not do set-ups for a wedding or bar-mitzvah. Luis Vizcaino, who can?t find home plate with a mine detector, is a nightmare come to life on the pitching mound, likely the basis for a new horror film revolving around sports, and Mike Myers is a one batter pitcher in the eyes of Torre. By the way, the lefty to lefty and right-handed pitcher to right-handed batter has as much credibility as the current Attorney General of the United States. Statistics will bear that out if you ever want to check on it.
Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Matt DeSalvo, Clemens maybe, with Brian Bruney and Mariano Rivera bringing up the rear, might work. Put the rest in the stands pitching bags of peanuts with the other vendors.
Torre is a myth and only George Steinbrenner can make the managerial change. Before the end of the season, which is almost here for his ballclub? You gotta be kidding!