Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time to Go, Joe

As my few loyal readers know, I'm not only a Mets fan, I'm a Yankees hater. In recent years, I've hated less, actually. This is partly because Boston is doing better and the Yanks are failing at what they used to do best, which is get into the playoffs and win championships.

But there's trouble in Yankeeville these days as word came out today that Joe Torre rejected management's offer of a one-year deal to continue on as the Yankees skipper. Initial reports have Torre looking like a heel for turning down an offer almost nobody thought he would receive after The Boss said publicly during their playoff series against Cleveland that it was win or go home, permanently.

While the Yanks won the first elimination game to avoid a three-game sweep, they couldn't close the deal in game four and Cleveland moved on to face Boston (as of this writing they are up 3-2 going to Game 6 Saturday night in Boston).

But Steinbrenner and his braintrust didn't move right away, leaving Torre hanging over the last week. Then came today's bombshell - the Yanks apparently do an about face and offer Torre a one-year deal worth five very large and another three million in bonuses. What does Torre do?

Well, he says 'no.'

Whoa, Nelly Fox.

It looks like Yanks management caved into the pressure from fans and many of the Yanks veterans who came out publicly to support the popular skipper. But a closer look reveals something else entirely.

The more I look at this situation, the more apparent it is that the Yankees made this offer to Torre to try to save face for the franchise. Period. I don't think they thought for a nanosecond that he would accept it (and why would he take another one-year deal just to sit on the hot seat again?) The Yankees move is bush league because it's clear they wanted to put the onus on Torre for fear of angering his supporters, both on the field and in the stands.

I think it was time for Torre to go. Whatever you say about him as a manager, he wasn't getting it done and as my friend, sportswriter Allen Berra has said, he seemed to be managing from Cooperstown. Seven years without a title in Yankeeland is an eternity and if it means saying good-bye to an icon, then so be it. Won't be the first or the last legend to depart the House that Ruth Built.

I hope Yankees management gets called on this, though. It's underhanded ball. Even if you agree with me that Torre's time is up, doesn't mean you gotta kick him when he's down. Show him the door, yes, but at least show him the respect he earned by guiding your club to all those titles.

I'm just saying.

Meanwhile on the field, Josh Beckett breathed new life into Boston's fading chances with a masterful performance in Game 5, helping the Sox stave off elimination. Two games to go, both in Boston and Curt Schilling on the mound. You gotta like the Sox chances to force a Game 7 and you have to wonder if the Indians, so young and inexperienced in these pressure situations, have what it takes to close the deal.

If the Red Sox pull this out and that's a huge if still, you might look at the tense at-bat by Kenny Lofton against Beckett, who is convinced Lofton showed him up a few years back when they were both in the National League (Kenny in Philly and Josh in Florida). I thought Lofton handled the situation badly this time, adding fuel to a fire that was best left to burn out. The Sox are an emotional team and you don't want to give Schilling another reason to pitch like his old Yankee-killer self.

If you're a baseball fan, you do not want to miss Saturday night's game.

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