And so the Joe Torre era comes to an end. What a sad way in which to write finis.
No matter what spin is put on it, this was the result of Steinbrenner’s colossal ego. He has always seen himself as the prime reason the Yankees won all those championships and it galled him to see the high esteem with which Joe Torre was regarded by both players and fans. In a way, this was very similar to the way in which William Bratton , the N.Y.P.D. chief was eased out by then Mayor Rudy Guiliani in the late 90’s. Guiliani was jealous of Bratton because the latter was receiving all those accolades for reducing crime in N.Y.C.
In recent months, there had been a groundswell of criticism about some of Torre’s managerial decisions. Over reliance on veterans . Using some middle relievers too much while not giving others a chance. Letting talented youngsters ride the bench even as the veterans failed to produce. Some of these criticisms might be true but the fact remains that he did manage to get them into the playoffs inspite of a horrible 14-28 start. And it wasn’t his fault that he was saddled with an aging, unreliable pitching rotation typified by the outrageously expensive Roger Clemens and an over-the-hill Mike Mussina.
I think the handwriting was on the wall once Ol’ George made that remark about Torre’s future even as the Yankees were battling the Indians. The manner in which Torre was presented with a take-it-or-leave-it offer, without any room for negotiation left him no choice but to resign. And I’m glad he did. He doesn’t need the constant backstabbing and criticism and interference that was his lot as the Yankee manager. I hope he gets another post with the Dodgers or elsewhere and guides that team to the World Series.
Unfortunately, Steinbrenner has this strange notion that anything less than a World Series triumph this year and every year is a failure. Perhaps, those four titles early in the Torre era spoiled him. Whatever. This attitude aided by the New York press seems to have rubbed off on some New York fans. As a result, not even winning seemed to bring much joy.
Prior to Joe Torre’s arrival in New York, the Yankees were not a likeable entity. His persona was what transformed the team and made it into one that fans could root for. It remains to be seen how the Yankees will fare under Joe Girardi. Definitely , the Yankees will be active in the free agent market and they will be competetive but I don’t see how they will be able to unseat the Red Sox any time soon. I am not particularly unhappy with the departure of Alex Rodriguez and perhaps of Jorge Posada.Time to trade or give away Giambi and Mussina. Mariano Rivera leaving would be a real loss but he’s nearing the end of his stellar career and the Yankees would have to think in terms of his successor sooner or later. Whatever happens, I hope that Ol’ George stays out of it and that GM Brian Cashman is given free rein to implement the youth movement that made the Yankees fun to watch this year as they battled their way into the playoffs after that disastrous start.