The New York papers are abuzz with rumors of Joe Torre’s imminent firing. I hope the reports of his coaching death are greatly exaggerated, because Torre was far from the one to blame for the Yankees’ post-season demise. He was handed a pitching staff that might have been young (as opposed to the Padres’ Chris Young, who looked spectacular) a decade ago, sporting Carl Pavano (who didn’t throw a single pitch in pinstripes this year) as its poster child. Matsui and Sheffield got hurt, and along comes Melky Cabrera. Who knew? Joe knew. Joe managed, and played the hand he was dealt, and played it well. If Steinbrenner is going to give him the equivalent of 7-2 offsuit hole cards in a game of hold’em, Joe knows how to play it.
On my way to the airport this morning, the sports talk radio was filled with “Ditch A-rod” and “Take Jeter’s captaincy” complaints. The engineers were hitting the dump button more than for the Howard Stern show, deleting invective laced with expletive. Everyone seems to think it’s Jeter’s problem that A-rod doesn’t feel loved, and if A-rod isn’t loved then he can’t play well.
Excuse me? A-rod gets paid in a year what most people make in ten careers. That’s love. That’s the fans love of the game translated into insane ticket prices and $7 beers and $9 sausages and $25 t-shirts to pay for Mr. “I want to be liked”. You want to be liked? Start with the fans, and the community, and your teammates. Don’t wait for people to come to you, go to the people. Do the work. Joe Torre is in front of the press, win or lose, every day, doing the work even when his team isn’t.
Young, exciting prospects sell tickets and jerseys too. And they are eager to build up some street cred, on the street, so they’ll engage with the community. Veterans who want to win with every fiber of their (able) bodies sell tickets. Ray Borque, anyone? Pudge Rodriguez?
The Yankees will retool, and there will be a long winter of discontent when everyone is a manager, coach, third baseman, and negotiator, and then it starts again in 22 weeks. For once, it would be nice if the Yankees opened up with a clear gap between the average age of the players and that of the year-round residents around training camp. I just hope Joe’s still there to point out the players.