So is Torre gone or not? Now they're (by they I mean "reports") claiming that Torre will actually be back next year. So which is it? We know how one man feels.
On 10/9, The Daily News ran a column by Mike Lupica endorsing the hiring of Lou Piniella. Except the column doesn't really make much sense. I know taking columns from sportswriters and dissecting them is the thing other blogs are made of, but I couldn't resist this. Let's examine what the self-proclaimed God of sportswriters has to say, and try and make some sense out of it.
George Steinbrenner does not make his pitching any younger, or better, by firing Joe Torre. He does not turn Alex Rodriguez into Mr. October, instead of the guy who just puts the O's in October. He can't buy a new heart for the most expensive team in baseball. This is still the right time for Steinbrenner to make a change. Nobody gets to be Yankee manager forever, not even Torre.
So what exactly does Steinbrenner have to gain if the above is true? Wouldn't it be more sensible to get younger, better pitching? Or to get rid of A-Rod? Or to infuse the team with some character? If firing Torre doesn't fix these things, why fire him? By the way, this is the first paragraph under a headline that reads The Boss must show Joe the door & hire Piniella.
The best one out there, by far, a voice you can't ever ignore, belongs to an old Yankee line-drive hitter named Lou Piniella. He is not a perfect choice to manage the Yankees. The only perfect choice turned out to be the man he would be replacing.
OK, so Lupica again reminds us that Torre is the perfect person to manage the Yankees, but still thinks Piniella should replace him. I don't understand the logic, unless Lupica is trying to destruct the Yankee franchise through his renowned "influence." If that's the case, well, I actually have gained a little respect for him. But I doubt that's the case.
If Steinbrenner has his way - and he was described by those who know him yesterday as having his "finger on the button" - then Torre goes. He goes out with his head high, but he goes.
I'm not sure this can qualify as a situation in which one goes out "with his head high." Although the prospects of retirement and never having to deal with Steinbrenner again are probably pretty sweet.
Even Casey Stengel was asked to leave after taking his team to 10 World Series in 12 years and winning seven of them. Red Holzman, who coached the classiest basketball team anybody ever saw, was asked to leave by the Knicks. Steinbrenner has this right. And is right to do it now, instead of next season, the first time another $200 million Yankee team loses three to the Devil Rays.
Hey, just because it happened to those guys doesn't make it right for them, either. Seems like firing a guy after winning 7 World Series' in 12 years is a pretty stupid decision. By the way, it's interesting that Lupica qualifies the Yankees by their payroll, and not with adjectives like "poorly-managed." The $200M Yankee team was Cashman and Steinbrenner's doing, not Torre's.
In the old days, Torre had players who motivated themselves, especially in the biggest moments. It doesn't happen that way anymore. It wasn't just A-Rod who shrunk to the size of a jockey this past weekend. A lot of them did, on a weekend when the Tigers looked willing to charge a machine gun nest for their manager, Jim Leyland.
Again, a problem with the players, not the manager. Also, surely Lupica could have come up with something better than "shrunk to the size of a jockey." That's just bad writing.
All of a sudden the manager of the biggest baddest team, the coolest guy going, looked as if he had panicked. In the end, he sat there in the dugout and looked as beaten, as beat-up, as any of them.
I'd be panicking too if I had a bunch of All Stars who played like bitches. I'm sure Torre's spent the last few days praying for Paul O'Neill to come out of retirement. Maybe Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius too.
Piniella should be the guy, and fast, maybe with the understanding that Don Mattingly succeeds him in three years.
Why not keep Torre for three more years and let Mattingly succeed him? Surely, setting a time limit on Piniella's tenure from the beginning isn't the smart path to success.
And that's about it. Lupica is basically endorsing a brash, nonsensical decision that even he says, in a veiled manner, is nonsensical. Isn't that kind of itchy trigger finger the reason the Yankees are in this trouble in the first place?