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A matter of respect (cont.)

Posted: Thursday October 18, 2007 9:03PM; Updated: Thursday October 18, 2007 9:01PM
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Some will claim now that it's an offer the Yankees knew he would refuse. But I don't believe that to be the case. One Yankees person quantified Torre's chances to return as "50-50'' on Wednesday, and Thursday morning, a few Yankees underlings appeared to think he would take it.

Torre wasn't uninterested in money. But he wanted the respect, and he surely felt he wasn't getting it. He wanted the respect of a two-year deal. People close to the situation say Torre suggested to some friends that he would have felt more comfortable with two years instead of one, and he can't be blamed for that.

Torre was under the gun this year, and he didn't wanted to come back with the gun trained on him again. He could probably get a managing job elsewhere for multiple years, if not immediately, then sometime soon. And maybe he will take it.

Yet, it's hard to blame him if he tired of working in an organization for an owner who didn't love him, and who was occasionally threatening to fire him. And even if the owner wasn't completely in charge anymore, it was the owner's sons who were taking over without any great allegiance to Torre.

Steinbrenner's outburst to the Bergen Record two days into the Division Series loss to the Indians, couldn't have made him feel wanted. But even before that, he knew Steinbrenner didn't love him. Right or wrong, Steinbrenner thought Torre got too much pay, and too much credit.

Torre knew that Steinbrenner and other Yankees people have been questioning whether the reality of Torre was as perfect as the legend of Torre. Yankees people questioned whether Torre was great strategically in recent years -- and not just Steinbrenner but real baseball people. Even general manager Brian Cashman, who admired and respected Torre like few others, and who saved Torre last October when Steinbrenner was itching to fire him, privately started to doubt some of Torre's bullpen strategies. And some of the moves were regrettable from a strategic standoint.

But despite a misstep here or three over the past seven seasons, it was a great run by Torre, who's earned every bit of the Hall of Fame plaque he'll be getting.

He calmed the clubhouse, put out the fires and defined the word "leader." But he was done in New York. Deep down, they knew it. And he knew it, too.

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