Along with noting the Yankees this week fired longtime club employee David Szen for stiffing the IRS to the tune of $10K (less than George Steinbrenner ’74 fine for illegal contributions to the Nixon campaign), the New York Times’ Murray Chass reminds us that while Joe Torre escaped mention in The Mitchell Report, “the report raises a question about Torre indirectly, as it does directly about Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and their chances for election to the Hall of Fame.”

It may be far-fetched to question whether Torre could be tainted by the steroids fallout, but there are critics who say baseball should do something about records possibly enhanced by steroids use, so why should a team be any different from a player? If you want to question many of Bonds™s 762 home runs and Clemens™s 354 victories, look at teams™ achievements, too.

According to the Mitchell report, Clemens used steroids in the latter half of the 2000 season. Denny Neagle played for the Yankees in the latter half of that season and, according to Mitchell, used human growth hormone.

Neagle won four successive starts from Aug. 27 through Sept. 12. Clemens, following Neagle in the rotation, won three of four starts. Three times they won consecutive games. Their efforts helped the Yankees increase their division lead from three games to nine.

The Yankees, who lost 13 of their last 15 games, won the division by 2 ½ games over the Red Sox. Without the performances of Neagle and Clemens, who knows what would have happened? The wild card wasn™t available to the Yankees because the second-place teams in the other divisions had better records.

If the Yankees hadn™t played in the postseason that year and had not been in position to win their third straight World Series, Torre would not have received the acclaim he enjoyed. It would also have made for an earlier start to the streak of seasons without a World Series championship and might have resulted in an earlier departure for Torre.

Torre did not return telephone calls to address the role steroids might have played in his success with the Yankees, but General Manager Brian Cashman said he didn™t think Torre would have suffered from any fallout.

œOnly if there was knowledge that the manager had of what was taking place and he refused to act, Cashman added. œPeople who have knowledge of this and refuse to act would bother me, but I have no reason to think that happened in Joe™s case.

I’m sure Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker would vouch for Joe having no idea as many as 10 members of the 2000 Yankees might’ve been using performancing enhancing substances. Who amongst us hasn’t found a dirty syringe in the toilets at Yankee Stadium and just thought Joe Pepitone was in town nothing of it?