The most recognizable professional team in American sports made a bush-league move on Thursday.
The New York Yankees will try to tell us the next few weeks that they were the victims here, that they were the ones who lost Joe Torre. After all, wasn’t Torre the one who was willing to walk away from a guaranteed $5 million and a possible $8 million should the Yankees win the World Series?
It may look that way on the surface, but that’s not what happened when Torre declined the Yanks’ offer to remain as the highest paid manager in baseball.
Keep in mind that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, no matter how much the Yankees will spin that this decision was made primarily by the Boss’ sons Hank and Hal, said before Game 3 of the ALDS that should New York lose in the first round, that Torre would take the fall.
Realizing after the fact the public relations hit that the organization was risking by running Torre off, the Yankees deftly — in their minds, at least — left the decision up to Torre. If he leaves the offer on the table, then Torre left the Yankees. Poor, poor pitiful Yanks. Woe is we.
Even though it’s insane for any rational person to feel sorry for a man who turned his back on $5 million, how many of us would slink back to our jobs with the only guarantee being that it would last just a year longer and comes with a 30 percent pay cut? This after being nothing short of near-perfect in performance. Principles are principles.
Bottom line, this was a shameful way for the Yankees to treat a manager who has meant more to the franchise than any field boss since Casey Stengel.
Say all you want about the Yankees failing to make it past the first round of the playoffs the last three years. That they even had a chance to contend for a world championship in each of the last 12 years while handling the media crush with the elegant stroke of a orchestra conductor should be more than enough.
And somehow, after giving Roger Clemens a prorated salary of $28 million and running up a $200 million payroll, the Yankees tried to make a personnel move out of money. As if money means anything to them. And what happens should Torre’s successor not make the playoffs, or Heaven forbid, lose in the first round again? Does he get lowballed, too?
Apparently, some people believe reaching the World Series is an easy thing to do, especially for the Yankees.
But the Boston Red Sox make the Series every year, and the Yankees just can’t live with that.
What? Huh? You mean they don’t?
Somebody better remind Steinbrenner and his boys that this is the big leagues.