Bronx Banter’s Cliff Corcoran covered Joe Torre’s Friday press conference, and raises the unpleasant possibilty the suddenly-deposed Yankee skipper won’t even turn up when the Yankees open their
glittering momument to avarice and greed beautiful new stadium in April, 2009.
One of the more telling moments in Torre’s press conference was when he indicated that he believed that George Steinbrenner’s statement during the ALDS and the fact that The Record’s Ian O’Connor was able to reach him by phone was orchestrated by the organization. WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Chris Russo pointed their fingers squarely at team president Randy Levine as the man who orchestrated the Steinbrenner statement. Francesa, an unapologetic Yankee fan, was particularly virulent, painting Levine as an interloper from the business side of the organization who is attempting to thrust himself into the power vacuum in the Yankees’ front office. It was Levine who announced the offer and Torre’s decision in the conference call yesterday, and it is believed that it was Levine who led the movement to get rid of Torre. Francesa called for Levine to be fired, saying that Levine, who joined the team in 2000 after Torre had already won three World Series and was on his way to a fourth, is exploiting his role in the plans for the new stadium to insert himself into the baseball side of the organization despite a lack of knowledge about the game.
Finally, though Torre handled the himself with his usual class, dignity, honestly, emotional openness, and humor today, but it’s telling that he refused to say that he’d be willing to come back for any ceremonial purposes. Pressed on that point by Francesa and Russo he said, “all of a sudden you just have the feeling that they don’t want you around, and the way it was done, it’s going to take some time.”
I suddenly had a chilling thought that perhaps Art Howe might not be invited to throw at the ceremonial first pitch when Citi Field hosts its first game.
Not everyone is sobbing over Torre’s departure ; sneering at Buster Olney’s eulogy (“you know more about Joe Torre the person than everyone reading this blog except for Don Mattingly (hi, Don!). But you can honor Joey T-Bones without resorting to this kind of run of the mill, knee-jerk, Baseball Tonight Bold Prediction-type sports-writing/-commentary hyperbole”) Fire Joe Morgan’s Junior considers Joe to be somewhat replaceable (link swiped from Soft Hands) :
We’re all sad. Torre is leaving. Stand-up guy. Might be a bad decision for the club. But we’re talking about a situation where you’re feeling misty-eyed for a guy who’s turning down a five million dollar base salary because it is a fucking insult to him. Five million dollars. And he’s not hitting 97-mph Josh Beckett fastballs or spearing Curtis Granderson laser beams. He’s not doing something that only a select few hundred human beings have the physical and mental capacity to do. He’s choosing what order to write down names in a lineup (sometimes poorly). He’s deciding when to put a relief pitcher in a game (often incorrectly).
Managing is easier than playing.
Joe Torre managed supertalented teams for a super long time in a super overexposed media market. For that he is a saint in the eyes of many. But he is a human man, a man who was an okay to pretty good baseball manager doing a job that probably a fair number of other people might have been fine doing as well. Baseball managers do not play the game. They do not have as much influence on the outcome of the game as say, football coaches or Ramiro Mendozas.