The completely rational (and possibly even living and breathing) George Steinbrenner (above) issued the following statement earlier today through his spokesperson, Howard Rubenstein.

“I am deeply disappointed at our being eliminated so early in the playoffs. The result is not acceptable to me. It is absolutely not acceptable to me nor to all our great and loyal fans. I want to congratulate the Detroit Tigers organization and wish them well. Rest assured we will go back to work immediately and try to right this sad failure and provide a championship for the Yankees, as is our goal every year.”

The Journal News’ Peter Abraham was at Yankee Stadium today, where little light was shed on Torre’s status.

As for the skipper, a few papers (mine included) had reporters outside his home in Westchester. He emerged about two hours ago, said nothing and drove off. One of the tabloid reporters tried to chase him. But apparently Joe did a little Starsky and Hutch and lost him. Another high-water mark for journalism.

More could happen tonight. But the read I get is that George Steinbrenner got upset and decided to fire Torre on Saturday. He also contacted Lou Piniella, who was more than happy to spread the word because he wants the job badly.

But the longer it goes without Joe getting canned, the greater the odds are of him returning. The question is whether the reactionary or restrained elements of Yankeeland get the old man’s ear. Torre has a lot of enemies in Tampa, people who think he gets too much credit.

A lot of those people are getting paid for doing nothing and are worried about their freeloading ways coming to an end if Brian Cashman stays in power. Getting Torre out weakens Cashman.

At this exact moment, I think Joe is out and Piniella is in. There is too much smoke for there not to be a fire. Congratulations, Torre haters. But this could be one of those deals where you should be careful what you wish for.

A-Rod will stay because Piniella will convince the Yankees he knows how to get the best out of him. Now, instead of just being the guy who can’t get it done in a big spot, A-Rod will become the guy who can’t get it done in a big spot and helped drive kindly Joe Torre out of town. Let’s see him survive that if the Yankees don’t win the Series next season.