I got a lot of grief in the Subway Squawkers comments section for saying that Joe Torre ought to stay away from tonight's George Steinbrenner monument dedication at Yankee Stadium. I appreciate the feedback, but I'm not changing my opinion.
Uncle Mike chastises me, saying, "Lisa, this has to stop. While it's true that, without George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre would be a ballplayer just short of the Hall of Fame and a manager just short of greatness (he did, after all, manage the Braves to a Division title well before that became common), without Torre, Steinbrenner would have lived the last 32 years of his life without winning another World Series."
Oh, come on. The nucleus of the late '90s dynasty was created by Gene Michael and Buck Showalter. Yes, Torre came in, and led that team to four rings to five years, and he deserves a ton of credit for doing so. But to suggest that the Yankees would never have won a World Series without Torre is a bit much.
And no, Torre was not "a manager just short of greatness" until the Yankees. Here are his winning percentages with the teams he managed prior to the Bronx: Mets: .405, Atlanta Braves: .529, St. Louis Cardinals: .498. He made it to the playoffs ONCE in 14 years prior to the Yanks. That's mediocrity, at best.
Mike says "tonight's ceremony is a way for Yankee Fans to say "Thank you" -- to both men." No, tonight was supposed to be about honoring George Steinbrenner, until the Torre PR machine tipped off Bill Madden and made sure everybody knew he'd be there. (It sure wasn't the Yankees who told the papers -- John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman said the team told them not to reveal the guest list.)
Reader RockN'RollStreetRat wrote: "Tomorrow's ceremony should be about Steinbrenner's baseball legacy with the Yankees, not about any personal squabbles anyone had with Geroge, or that George had with anyone. And when it comes to Torre, he's one of he most important figures in the Boss's Yankee legacy, and one of the team's best ever managers."
I get that point that he and Uncle Mike are making, but here's the thing with that argument. I remember what happened with Sonny Bono's funeral. Sonny's widow Mary asked Bono's ex-wife Cher to give the eulogy. But thanks to Cher's star power and emotional speech, the funeral became all about Cher, and little about Sonny.
Yes, Cher was a huge part of Sonny's legacy, but to hear her weep after she had trashed her ex-husband's reputation for the previous two decades was a bit much. And by the end of her speech, you would have thought she were the widow, and not Mary Bono! Although I think Cher's grief was sincere, I just wish she had shown such appreciation for Sonny Bono when he was still alive to hear it.
Tonight is supposed to be about George Steinbrenner getting his place at Monument Park, not about Torre getting face time shedding crocodile tears. Reader JonMouk71 wondered, "the more cynical might say he is cultivating the media to pressure Wilpon to meet his high price to manage the Mets." Count me in that cynical category.
Anyhow, I'll watch the event tonight, but don't expect me to clap at my TV screen about seeing Joe Torre take over what should be George Steinbrenner's tribute.
What do you think? Tell us about it!