Regular readers of this blog are well aware of my dislike for the Yankees in general, and for their owner George Steinbrenner in particular. Don’t even get me started on the Yankee groupies, who pretend to be real fans only when the team is winning. I know very well this doesn’t apply to all Yankee fans, but I must say that there are enough around to reflect poorly on everyone else. As fans of other baseball teams can also admit, I am happy when the Yankees lose. Maybe it’s a little jealousy that my favorite teams haven’t won as many playoff games or World Series rings. It’s a credit to their organization that the rest of baseball is trying to duplicate the incredible success they have had over the years. It is also a credit to manager Joe Torre, even though –like Bill Belichick in his Cleveland days — he was never considered as a can’t miss manager until he got the talent level Steinbrenner’s money could buy for him.
Even though I am skeptical of the genius label when applied to any coach or manager, it would be a mistake to attribute Torre’s success in NY just as a result of simply being in the right place at the right time. He took what he was given and he had an amazing run of success with those players. He took all of Steinbrenner’s criticism and constant second-guessing in stride most of the time, and not many other managers could survive and thrive in that environment.
Has he made mistakes in previous postseasons? Yes. Has he made a few questionable moves in the series against the Indians? Probably. But some of the blame should also go to Steinbrenner and Cashman for trying to take shortcuts to postseason success. I don’t think there’s a manager out there right now who can match Torre’s record in NY, but there may be no other option except firing Torre once Steinbrenner gave his ultimatum — unless, like in previous years, he’s just blowing smoke again.
I don’t think Torre should be fired. I think he should walk away from the Yanks and not look back. He’s got nothing left to prove in NY, and I’m sure he won’t stay unemployed long if he wants to manage somewhere else. That said, it may not be up to him to choose what happens next.