"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
When Joe Torre, former manager of the New York
Yankees (as if you had to be told, right?) opted to walk away from the job,
prestige, money, future and all else after George Steinbrenner made him an
offer he could refuse, the skipper crafted himself as the victim. Really?
Every time the Bronx Bombers won the World Series was it really Torre that was
responsible for the team's proficient hitting, fielding, pitching, running,
catching, and its showing up with a "we are the Yankees and we do not come to
lose" attitude? It is interesting that the media has portrayed Torre, as they
do with others in similar positions elsewhere - e.g., Phil Jackson, Pat Riley,
Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Casey Stengel, Vince Lombardi, etc - as the
reason(s) for the championships and not the players. Did they really make the
moves that won games, or was it the athletes?
If Joe Torre truly leaves the Yankees as "one of the most successful managers
in team history," and is slated for a spot in the Hall of Fame one day, then
whom do we hold accountable for post-season losses in seven consecutive years,
the players? Wasn't it Torre and general manager Brian Cashman that started
the season with a pitching staff of Little League caliber, for the most part,
and continued to have tryouts during the first few months of "play for real?"
Wasn't it Torre, during this season and the preceding ones, who clung to the
old-school methods that once worked, while displaying a lack of imagination
and aggressive attitude that the game necessitated in this era?
Joe Torre managed the Yankees for 12 seasons and won four World Series titles.
As I recall, it was also Torre, clinging to and clutching that black dugout
bat of his, that refused to recognize that Alex Rodriguez was a playoff
disaster and steadfastly refused to either sit him for a few games or, even
more simply, move him in the batting order? Wasn't it Torre that blew a 3-0
lead to the Red Sox or was that the team? Wasn't it Torre that bested
Cleveland 6-0 during the season and then let them shove him out the door like
so much excess baggage on the playoff plane?
Objectively speaking, my recall is that it was Torre who was unflinching and
resolute in keeping starting pitchers in while there was more blood on the
mound than rosin...until the game was beyond saving. It was also the
pinstripe power behind the players that bought into the outrageous concept
that pitchers began to wilt once they had thrown 100 pitches and/or that
there had to be a 7th, 8th, 9th inning pitcher and closer on the staff. What
happened to bunting the guy on first to put him into scoring position when
there were no outs, double steals, more hit-and-runs, creative guidance? Not
in Torre's playbook.
The one-year contract he was offered should have been fine. The Yankees had
invested millions and millions in the manager during his tenure at the helm,
they provided him with the team he and Cashman hand-picked, and money was
never the object. When Torre tossed Bernie Williams overboard - and could
have used him in those first few months of the season - he did so without
looking back and no recall of what Williams had done for the team over the
The "hefty pay cut" that was portrayed by Torre and the media was an illusion.
If Torre was going to be able to replicate what he had done in years past,
with emphasis on what "he had done," and still little, or no credit, to the
players, he would have earned more in 2008 than he had this past season. And,
there was no satisfaction of late with his performance. Twelve years with New
York adds up to a lot of money but, again, the past seven did not have the
results that the money was buying. Fact of life...objectively speaking.
No one else will pay Torre the kind of dollars he was earning and nowhere else
will he experience the ambience, atmosphere, excitement, exposure and fan base
that he has enjoyed at the Stadium. From this vantage point that is worth a
ton of dinero...and more. Has everyone lost sight of the fact that his team
did not make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a
row? But, objectively speaking, it looks like the Dodgers are about to offer
him close to the same atmosphere and money, while managing the Cubs in
a great city like Chicago, with multiple appearances on Oprah, is not enough
to lure him away from the glitz and glamour that Tommy Lasorda once absorbed
like a sponge. The Mayflower van will be arriving at his home some time soon
with "LA or bust" emblazoned on its tarpaulin-covered sides.
Now the focus in the Big Apple is on Joe Girardi, who has accepted the position along with a three-year contract, an act that did not take a great deal of discussion with family,
friends or agent. Torre burned the bridge, not Steinbrenner, his sons Hank
and Al, son-in-law Felix Lopez, team president Randy Levine or Cashman.
Don Mattingly leaves, since he does not get the job, and has a choice of
waiting around until Torre makes a decision so he can join him, or sends his
resume to the gaggle of teams that are in need of a new man at the helm. Tony
Pena stays and Larry Bowa is fine as third base coach with that windmill
motion of his encouraging all to run home regardless of where the ball might
be at a given moment.
Expectations will be running high for Girardi, who will get three years to return the Yankees to the promised land.
Alex Rodriguez, the most misguided player of the age, as well as one of the
most talented, adheres to the Rasputin advice of his parasitic agent, the
ever-greedy Scott Boras. They set sail in search of more money (why?) and a
World Series ring, despite Rodriguez's very unproductive stint during recent
playoffs and contributing little to garner that bit of jewelry. It is now a
matter of which team does he leave next? And, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera
would be equally foolish to consider any other options...all for the same
reason(s) that I doubt have to be explained or spelled out to them. The
Yankees have a great young nucleus of pitchers, have to unload the
unproductive from the pitching staff and dugout and simply move forward with
their combined youth/veteran aggregation that is in place, under the direction
of a new manager.
All of that was overlooked by the overbearing and self-absorbed Boras who, it
seems, is running against Drew Rosenhaus as the poster boy of what sports can,
and should, live without.
Objectively speaking, Joe Torre did not produce for a great many years and his
approach to the game had cobwebs on it to match the tattered and yellowed
pages of his playbook. The game was passing him by and he never noticed. If
he had, there would have been a few more World Series flags and plaques
adorning Yankee Stadium right now.
Is there going to be a lot of pressure on the new guy?
You gotta be kidding!