So now that the New York Yankees are gone from the postseason, the word is that owner George Steinbrenner is finally going to pull the trigger and fire manager Joe Torre.
Listening to Torre’s news conference following the Yankees’ 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the ALDS on Monday night, it sure sounded like he was ready to move on, even discussing the possibility of managing elsewhere. That elsewhere could potentially include St. Louis, where Torre managed the Cardinals to a couple of second-place finishes and where current manager, self-proposed baseball genius Tony La Russa, may be on the way out now that GM Walt Jocketty has been let go.
Whatever happens in the future, the fact that the Yankees want to run Torre out on a rail is ridiculous. All he’s done during one of baseball’s longest stretches of parity — since the Yanks’ last won it all in 2000, there have been six different World Series champions, and there could be a seventh this year — is lead the team in the toughest media market to 12 postseasons and 10 division titles. He’s won almost 1,200 games as the Yankees manager, and while the huge payroll certainly helps a team get to the playoffs and pick up regular season wins, Torre’s calm demeanor has carefully and successfully navigated the Yanks through the unyielding minefield that is the New York media.
Still, Steinbrenner would probably call an end to the Torre era and promote either Don Mattingly (full disclosure: Donnie Baseball was my baseball hero growing up) or Joe Girardi, who, between them, have one year of managing experience. Girardi did a masterful job in leading a bad Florida Marlins team to meaningful games in September in 2006 while clashing with ownership in Miami, where most people would rather do anything than attend Marlins’ games.
But losing Torre could mean losing many of the Yankees. Derek Jeter sees Torre as a father figure, Andy Petttitte has said he might retire if Torre doesn’t return, and free agents Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera are also close to their manager.
Be careful what you wish for, Yankees fans. Torre might be gone soon, and while he was the toast of the town in winning four championships in six years, few are keeping that in mind when they look over Torre’s tenure.
Just remember, Yankees fans, to ask yourselves one question when thinking about Torre: how have the Mets fared in the same city over the same period of time?