Monday, June 27, 2011

Too Soon: Why the Yankees Should Have Waited to Have Joe Torre Back at Old Timers' Day

I was looking forward to seeing a former Yankee manager, who also was a very good player, return to Yankee Stadium for the first time for Old Timers' Day. Unfortunately, Lou Piniella's first appearance at the even was completely overshadowed by the return of Joe Torre.

I'm sorry, but I just think it was way too soon to bring back Torre for the event. Especially since he has never apologized for anything he did towards the end, like the way he trashed the organization after he deemed a one-year contract that guaranteed him $5 million (with another $3 million in incentives) an "insult."

And I am not going to forget about "The Yankee Years," and the way Torre, who based his whole Yankee career on being classy, settled scores with anybody who didn't genuflect to him in his time with the Yankees. I haven't forgotten the way he talked about George Steinbrenner's health issue. The way he revealed personal information about Johnny Damon. The way he told the world that A-Rod's nickname on the team was "A-Fraud." The way he got facts wrong, and accused David Wells of being a bad influence on Sidney Ponson when they were never teammates. Torre was so nasty and vindictive in the book, he made me feel sorry for Kevin Brown (!) afterwards.

And the thing of it is, he had a lot to answer for with "The Yankee Years," but thanks to the very same media members who gave him a standing ovation at his Yankee farewell press conference, Torre was able to deflect the bile of his book, as if it was all co-author Tom Verducci's fault. (Which begs the question, how did Verducci find out that information, if not for the guy whose picture was on the cover?)

I'm not saying that Torre should have been kept away from Old Timers' Day forever, but geez, is it too much to expect him to apologize for being a twit, before being welcomed back as Saint Joe of the Bronx again? Or for Joe to acknowledge that he bit the hand that fed him for 12 years, by first walking out in a snit fit slamming the organization, and then writing such a vile book like "The Yankee Years"? And for Joe to apologize for what he said and wrote, before honoring him in Yankeeland?

But instead of having to admit he was ever wrong, Torre got treated like a conquering hero yesterday, not just with the fans, but with the press, where it doesn't look like he got a single tough question at his press conference. I'm not going to be a phony like Torre and pretend that everything he did was okay. It wasn't, and he still needs to answer for it (but unfortunately, he likely will never have to.)

Torre said yesterday:
"I knew this day would come," said Torre, who received a rousing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd after his introduction.
Really, Joe? I seem to remember in your farewell press conference that you said you would never return to Yankee Stadium again.

He also said:
“I think they probably wanted to do something else,” Torre said. “I think it became uncomfortable on both sides on how to separate. Unfortunately it wasn’t pretty.”
Heaven forbid St. Joe take responsibility for his immature actions and say something like, "You know, I should have acted more grateful for the opportunity George Steinbrenner gave me. Thanks to him taking a chance on me, I went from being a .500 manager to a Hall of Famer. I should have handled my departure better, and not taken the cheap shots I did on the way out."

But, of course, that didn't happen. Instead Torre said about wearing pinstripes again:
"Putting it back on felt good," said Torre, who managed the Yankees to four World Series championships (1996, '98, '99, 2000) during his 12 years as their skipper. "Taking it off was quite emotional back in '07 because when I was doing it, I knew I wasn't going to be here anymore.
Really, Joe? I seem to remember the Yankees giving you another contract deal, and you turned it down because it was a pay cut. Now you say that you knew it was the last time you would wear the pinstripes as a manager? Which story is it?

Here's the kicker:
I just don't like to dwell on stuff, but I certainly did feel different when I put it on (Sunday morning), because it was something I hadn't done it in a long time, and it's obviously the uniform that has meant the most to my career."
Oh, good grief. Doesn't like to dwell on stuff? That's exactly what he did with "The Yankee Years" -- dwell on every real or perceived slight, settle every score, get back at anybody who didn't treat St. Joe with the deference he deserved.

If you cheered for Joe's return, knock yourself out. Just don't expect me to have joined you.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Mark the Spark said...

I didn't like the way Joe Torre left either. The book he wrote was cleary vindictive.

But at the end of the day, he's a Yankee. He'll always be a Yankee. And I'll always accept him as such.

George Steinbrenner did some things I didn't like, too. Back in the early 90's, like most Yankee fans at the time, I wanted him to sell the team and was relieved, even joyous when he was suspended by MLB.

But when he came back, and we started to win again, all was forgiven. By the end he was beloved by Yankee fans. Time heals wounds (as does WS rings).

So, I was glad to see Torre back. And I hope to see him every year on old timers day in the future.

When the crowd cheered for him, I had tears in my eyes. The way he left made yesterday's comeback even sweeter in a way.

Bottomline, Joe Torre's a Yankee and he always will be.

Jerome Rose said...

Even though one cannot unring the bell, some sort of statement on Joe Torre's part was/is in order.His "tell all" book had too many things in it that only hurt the team's image. Some of these "nuggets" should never have gone any further than the clubhouse.

Jerome Rose said...

Although one cannot unring the bell, a statement of regret for things printed in his book is/was in order!Some of his comments went far beyond his feelings about the Yankee hierarchy and reflect on his former players. These things should never have left the confines of the clubhouse!

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