I'll Add One More Reason...
Shortly after the Yankees ended their 2006 season like Elvis' last days - bloated, overweight, underperforming, filthy rich, taking a dump on themselves, and dead - the New York Daily News quickly reported that George M. Steinbrenner III was ready to dump skipper Joe Torre.
Well, yesterday proved that report as "false." At least, that's what Kevin Kennedy was trying to diatribe about on the Fox pregame show. (on an aside, I like Jeanne Zelasko, but what is her real job? Does she do anything else other than work on Saturdays and in the postseason?)
Not so fast. I'm not sure it was false. Maybe it was proved to be inaccurate, but there are no doubts that Torre was finished.
Bill Madden, the highly respected NYDN baseball scribe, penned a column today
with his three reasons why Torre was spared the Steinbrenner axe.
All three reasons are good, solid, and I'd surmise about 99% accurate.
But the main reason all this Torre hubbub kicked into play, I believe, has less to do with the baseball team off the Grand Concourse and more to do with the baseball team off the Grand Central Pkwy.
It takes away from the New York Mets.
The Yankees got eliminated in the afternoon, prior to the Mets winning their series. Mets, back page. Yanks, front page.
Now, I have no doubt that Steinbrenner was fuming after the loss. And I'm sure, after he was done accusing his bowl of tapioca pudding of stealing his red hankerchief, he was shouting for Billy Martin's number. But I also believe that Yankee brass "floated" the story in order to take away from the Amazin's positive press.
There are three teams that GMSIII hates to see get one-up on his pinstripers: the Mets, the Red Sox, and the (Devil) Rays. In that order.
In the eyes of many New Yorkers, Yankee fans, and other baseball fans, you don't fire Joe Torre. You convene both chambers of Congress, and if they vote 2/3's majority in favor of dismissal, then Torre is impeached. That's the "aura and mystique" of St. Joe Torre.
So to dare, gasp, to fire the manager of the team with the best record in baseball (best payroll in baseball be damned...), then that's going to take the lead in the race for the lede.
(no truth to the rumor, Law & Order was going to use it as a "ripped from the headlines" episode)
And it was a shrewd move. The Yanks were eliminated on Saturday, floated the firing story on Sat. night while the Mets were playing, and it took center stage (no, not Eraserhead's
show on YES). And then it took on life of its own for the next three days or so until Torre would hold his own presser.
Three days of coverage for the Yanks, all of which overshadowed the fact that the Mets are four wins from the World Series and eight from Ring Day at the 2007 home opener at Shea.
Kinda crappy, but it's par for the course.
As for my feelings on the whole thing, I dunno. The Yankees are a different animal.
They spend the most money, leaps and bounds more than the Red Sox who rank second in payroll. They have an All-Star at every position. The right side of their infield has a combined salary close to the annual operating budget of NASA.
They pay their manager $7 million, more than any other skipper in MLB. They have four other former major league managers as their coaches (Tony Pena, Larry Bowa, Lee Mazzilli, Joe Kerrigan).
For all those riches and excess to exist, they have equally as rich and excessive goals. Or should I simply say "goal." To win the World Series. Every year.
No win? No goal. No success. And potentially, no job.
That's the goal. Every year. If you don't like the goal, or don't think you can achieve it, then don't sign with the Yankees as a free agent, or don't take a job as a coach or front office executive.
As you all well know, I am not a Yankee fan. But I am a fan of a professional sports franchise that, while the rules and the leagues are different, have the same goal and expectations of excellence: the New England Patriots.
No, Bob Kraft can't buy the AFC Pro Bowl team. No, Bill Belichick doesn't have a roster of first-ballot inductees to Canton. But they put together the best roster with the best players and the best coaches, all tuned into winning the Super Bowl. That's the goal of everything they do, from training table meals to training camp to week 12.
I can appreciate the expectations, and the approach to reach those expectations. They're lofty. And no, Bob Kraft doesn't have to be talked out of nuking Rt. 1 after a Patriots loss like the senile old guy in the turtleneck in Tampa might be wont to do with a Yankee playoff exit (which is becoming quite a regularity for the "business-like" Yankees these days).
So whose fault does the demise of the Yankees lie at the feet of? (apologies for ending a sentence with a preposition, Grammar polizia)
Torre? He's the manager. He makes up the lineup. The same lineup that had two-time American League Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez batting 6th, 6th, 4th, and then 8th.
Cashman? He's the one who makes up the 25-man All-Star roster. So when Joe Torre is forced to start Sidney shampooing Ponson in a key August series with the Red Sox, there's something rotten in Aruba.
A-Rod? One man does not make a team. One man, however, can break one. Some of the criticism he receives is justified. Most of the rest of it is crap. He is an outsider in the Yankee clubhouse and I don't care how talented the lot of them are, you need cohesion.
Which brings me to the Captain. Is it Jeter's fault? Is it his fault because he's not the vocal type of leader? I seem to think that Paul O'Neill would have stabbed anyone who stood in his way of winning. And if he had to hold A-Rod, Giambi, or Mussina by their necks over a boiling caulderon of oil to shape them up, he would have. Jeter would not. And I don't think it helps that he kinda sorta loathes A-Rod.
The core of the "true Yankees? I don't think the Yankee clubhouse is 25 men, 25 cabs. Because I think Jeter, Bernie Williams, Posada, and Mo Rivera probably share one. So it's 25 men, 20 or 21 cabs...depending on whether or not Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth are heading to karoake night at the Beechmont Tavern. But the players that were there for the halcyon days of Chad Curtis, Luis Sojo, Charlie Hays, and Scott Brosius, they have a beef with the other folks. No doubt. I do recall in 2003, when a clearly dismayed and disgusted Jorge Posada referred to the rest of the Yankee clubhouse as those "who weren't here when we were winning rings." (quote is paraphrased, but you get the point).
Or is it the rest of the Yankee clubhouse? You can't fault a Robinson Cano/Melky Cabrera or Hideki Matsui/Chien-Ming-Kevin-Brown Wang for any of it. Cano's a rook. Matsui and Wang have language barriers. I also don't think you can fault Johnny Damon. While in a different and less homicidal way than Paul O'Neill, Damon would kill for a win. (wow, I'm defending Johnny shampooing Damon...) But the Sheffield's, Giambi's, Mussina's, and Johnson's...they're at fault. They make the money. Rather, they took the money. They need to take the responsibility and put their personal and insignificant ways behind them. Sheffield is the type of player who admitted to making errors on purpose in Milwaukee in order to get traded. Giambi cheats. Mussina is widely regarded as a miserable human being. And Johnson is Mussina, except 6-10 and left-handed.
So that's that. Now that the resolution of L'Affaire Torre is done, maybe we can get on with the business of covering the Mets' run toward baseball history. That is, until reports fly about A-Rod being traded. I wonder if that will coincide with a potential trip down the Canyon of Heroes for Willie, Omar, Pedro, David and Jose...
On an aside...
The White Sox
are set to start their games at 7:11, in a promotion with 7-11 convenience stores. How long before NORML sponsors a team, so that they start all their games at 4:20?
Saw "The Departed" yesterday. (when you're on a self-imposed personal work stoppage such as I, going to the movies is a viable option)
Thought it was pretty good, not great. 3.5/3.75 stars outta five. Matt Damon was great. Leonardo DiCaprio very good. And Marky-Mark very above average. Even Alec Baldwin was good.
It's worth the 10 bucks, or whatever it costs to go to a movie these days (I dunno, because I go to the matinees with the old folks.)
The Queen Mary 2 is in town. Literally. It's docked across Newport Harbor. I might go downtown to see it pull out.
(there is also some other random cruise ship docked in Newport. The QM2 makes it look like a dinghy.)
Which made me think: I never noticed the QM2 in Milwaukee this past year...