End of a dynasty (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday October 9, 2007 1:56AM; Updated: Tuesday October 9, 2007 1:56AM
Torre has never been known as a brilliant game tactician -- his decision to bring Jose Veras into Game 4 tonight is an example of what his critics have moaned about for years. Rather, his strength has been in handling the pressures of working for Steinbrenner, of being the manager of the Yankees.
"It is important not to underestimate how well Torre's own exceptional human qualities have served him," wrote the late David Halberstam, "his honesty and sense of humor, and his instinct, despite all the media pressures on him, to be exceptionally straight in his dealings." Halberstam did not know Torre well when he interviewed him for October '64, his book about the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. Torre was not on that team, but later became teammates, and close friends with Bob Gibson.
"Torre went out of his way to be generous," Halberstam continues, "not because he cared that much who I was, or wanted to ingratiate himself with me, for there was no way I could help his career or get him back into baseball at that time, but because he thought I was serious, and -- most of all -- because he loved Bob Gibson and he wanted to be sure I got him right. Torre's generosity was about something very old-fashioned, loyalty to a magnificent teammate, years after they had played their last game together."
There are some who would love for Torre, who was once called "the original godfather, talking out of a cloud of cigar smoke," to take this opportunity to rip Steinbrenner. But that is not his style.
"The only thing I've ever tried to do here is be loyal to the organization," Torre said before the game, "and put in a day's work. I've been very lucky."
For now, Torre will wait.
"This ball club, they have a great future," said Torre. "The young kids who came down the pike here, it's something different for the Yankees."
When the Yankees clinched a playoff spot this year, it was the youngsters, led by Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Joba Chamberlain, who doused their manager with beer and champagne. Torre was overcome with emotion. But it is the veterans who will miss Torre most.
"Joe Torre is the best manager in baseball," said a teary-eyed Jorge Posada, a longtime Torre loyalist, who will be a free agent this fall. If Torre is gone, there is no telling if Posada, closer Mariano Rivera (also a free agent) or Andy Pettitte will return.
"Obviously, I hope Joe stays here as the manager forever," said Pettitte, "but I also realize that the Boss has spent a lot of money on players and he expects us to perform."
Torre and his players understand how demanding their owner can be. While he may be a shell of his former self, you get the sense that the Boss has been waiting for this moment for years. Still, with Steinbrenner in declining health and a new Yankee Stadium set to open in 2009, the winds of change are upon the Yankee organization. But the end of this Yankee Dynasty begins the moment when Joe Torre is no longer the manager.
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