Monday, Oct. 2, 2023 |
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When I was in high school I wrote on my hands, on my book covers, on my folders and on my shoes. I would draw the typical flowers and happy faces and the logos of my favorite sports teams.
On my black Converse Chuck Taylors, right on the white borders of my shoes I would write “Go Yankees!” “NY” and “I love Andy Pettite.” I had never actually gone to New York to watch them play, but I watched them play on TV all the time.
This was right along the time they were on their World Series run when they won four titles in six appearances: 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. So I have to admit that, yes, I jumped on that bandwagon, but I was a teenager and I don’t think I was the only one to do it. The Yankees were, and most would argue, are still America’s team.
They were on a roll, they had great players and a nice, humble manager named Joe Torre.
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner handed over the manager position to Torre in 1995 and since then, the Yankees made 12 postseason appearances and 10 American League East titles. By the end of this season, Torre surpassed former Yankee manager Casey Stengel to rank second for all-time wins for the ball club with 1,173.
That’s a pretty successful run for Torre by my standards, but not by Steinbrenner’s.
For week’s now, Torre’s job had been in jeopardy for not winning or even making the World Series and apparently doing so is in the Yankees’ mission statement. It’s considered a failure when they’re not in the World Series. How realistic is that?
Steinbrenner and his sons Hank and Hal deliberated on whether or not to bring Torre back. They finally came down with an offer: $5 million as a base salary, $1 million if they make the postseason, $1 million if they reach the AL conference series and $1 million if they make the World Series.
Torre thought that was an insult and flew down to Tampa where the Steinbrenners were having the meeting to talk with them face-to-face. Let’s face it, these are the types of contracts that should be handled in person, I think.
Torre said there were no negotiations offered and therefore, Torre turned it down.
I had been glued to my television set and computer following the story and got up early to watch his live press conference Friday to hear what he had to say.
He said it was an offer he just couldn’t take.
“It’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s about commitment. It’s the trust that he knows what he’s doing.”
He also went on to say that it was about trust and commitment and that you couldn’t have one without the other. Torre had already been there for so many seasons, he knew what his job is. He didn’t need those extra incentives. He knows the goal is to make the World Series. There’s no need to offer him a one-year contract, with a pay cut, and then give him some kind of “motivation” to make the World Series.
He was the highest paid manager at $7.5 million. Lou Piniella of the Chicago Cubs was the next with $3.5, followed by Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves.
But he insists it’s not about the money and I believe him. If the Steinbrenners wanted him back, they would’ve given him a better offer or at least negotiated with him.
“I offered a concept we may talk about,” he said. “More a concept that would work for the both of us. It was a term and how to go about it. But that was it. Money was not involved in the suggestion.”
He said it just wasn’t right for him and the players to accept that offer. And speaking of players, there are seven who might leave because of this decision. One being my Andy Pettite. He has a player option he might exercise. Catcher Jorge Posada has one too. Mariano Rivera, Doug Mientkiewicz and Roger Clemens are up as free agents. Bobby Abreu has a team option he can use. And let’s not forget about Alex Rodriguez. He can opt out of his contract if he want to.
Woody Paige of ESPN’s “Around the Horn” cracked me up when he said last week that Steinbrenner had been watching too much of “The Bronx is Burning” is starting to get fired up again.
(”He works for me and I tell him what to do!” Remember that Steinbrenner scene?)
Either way, it’s sad that Torre will no longer don those pin stripes. At least in my eyes, he seemed like a fine manager. He wasn’t a winning manager before coming to the Yankees and immediately turned his record around.
It would also be hard to picture the Yankees if all those players leave. Pettite, Clemens, Posada and Rivera. Those are the people I think of when someone mentions the Yankees.
Torre said it best when he said: “Even if you’re not a sports person, everyone knows who the Yankees are.”
Well, you know, Mr. Torre, I think even if you’re not a sports person, everyone knows who you are.
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.
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