The nausea has returned. Oh yes, after twelve years, it has reasserted itself, and with a vengeance.
The pettiness and the effrontery. The insolence and the vindictiveness. The cowardice and the malice. The insanity and the embarassment. Yankeeland has resurrected the age-old revulsion.
The organization that repelled you by hiring and firing Billy Martin 5 times in 13 years. The brass that outraged you by dismissing Dick Hower after he won the AL East. The Boss that disgusted you when he canned Yogi Berra 16 games into a season, and with his son, no less, in the locker room. The leadership that appalled you by dispatching Buck Showalter and Gene Michael after they'd led the Yankees through a fourteen year wildnerness into the post-season. The front-office that disgusted you when it wasted its time courting Gary Sheffield and in the meantime, drove Andy Pettitte away.
Well, yesterday revived the legacy of nausea to connect the Yankees' shameful present with their ignominous past.
Sure, the years may pass. The names and faces may change. The Steinbrenner serfs may supplant the Steinbrenner Lord; and The Boss' courtiers may inherit his Kingdom. But the self-destructive arrogance, the irrational scapegoating, the contempt for their fans' intelligence and the defiance of common sense-- that never ceases. It only goes into remission.
The Yankees never deserved Joe Torre. The last two weeks only proved it.
First came the ingratitude of the Boss' ALDS Ulitmatum after a season in which their manager had resurrected his team from the brink of extinction, despite a pitching staff featuring the likes of Kei Igawa, Chase Wright, Matt DeSalvo, Tyler Clippard, Darryl Rasner, Carl Pavano and a 10-week DL stint for Jason Giambi, the hitter who led them last year in Home Runs.
Then followed the high-handed callousness in which the organization who let a man, who had toiled for them for 12-years and won throughout, a man of of consummate tact, grace and integrity; a man who following his team's elimination shed tears of anguish and devastation; a man they let wallow in misery and dangle in anticipation for ten full days before deciding his fate.
In the meantime, they staged a cyncial and contemptible charade, with all the pomp and circumstance Little Men crave to make themselves feel important. For two days, they convened behind closed doors and locked gates in their Tampa Manse. For two days, they pretended to deliberate, to weigh and to consider. When actually, for two days, they schemed and contrived; they plotted and maneuvered. How do we rid ourselves of this beloved man, these Little Men pondered? How do we dispose of this Mensch who has robbed us of the credit and the praise, the affection and the respect, to which our money entitles us. How do we dispatch him and yet preempt the outrage from our fans and our players that we know ourselves too cowardly to face by simply firing him? So the Little Men combined their collective smallness and this is what they wrought: an offer so insulting they calculated he would refuse. An offer that in ostensibly saving their faces, slapped his harder than if they'd had the decency just to fire him in the first place.
So on the third day, they invited the manager who had led them for twelve years who had won them four championships and reflected upon them only glory and grandeur in the process -- they invited this man to Tampa to dictate to him irrevocable terms for surrender. And with all the duplicity and unctuous innocence that Little Men can contrive this is what they had the gall and the indecency to offer--
- "For reaching the post-season for an unprecedented twelve consecutive years, for attaining 10 AL East division titles, for earning 6 AL pennants, for winning in 6 years as many World Championships as we had in the previous 35, we offer you one lame duck year at a 30% decrease in salary.
- "And because the mission statement of this franchise is to win a World Series every year and while we all share responsibility for our failure to do so the past seven years, we wish to hold you, Joe Torre, to a standard we would never impose on ourselves. No, because you, Joe Torre, alone haven't made it past the ALDS in 3 years; because you lost 4 straight games to the Red Sox in the '04 ALCS; because you haven't won a World Championship with the legions of great starting pitchers we've furished you-- from Jeff Weaver, Javier Vasquez, Kevin Brown, Jose Contreras, Carl Pavano, Jared Wright, Hideki Irabu to Kei Igawa: because of all this failure you, alone, Joe Torre have caused the Yankees franchise the past seven years, you, alone, must accept what we like to call a 'performance-based model.' Never mind the effect it may have on your players. No, to reinforce that you, alone, Joe Torre, cost us the Division Series the past three years and to motivate you for the future, you must accept a $1 million incentive for each playoff round you win-- performance-based stipulations, to which we, of course, don't consider ourselves beholden.
- And finally to reaffirm, that we only welcome managers who win World Series here-- albeit from our President and our GM we, evidently, accept far less- we will only guarantee you, Joe Torre, a second-year only if you reach the World Series. (Note how generous we are because we don't even demand that you win it.)"
And of course, what ensued was the ending the Little Men had spent ten days scripting.
The Manager who loved his job and in turn, inspired the love and loyalty of his players and his fans, demonstrated in vivid fashion why the ungrateful and devious Little Men and the organization they lead never really deserved him.
And in doing so, he exposed the Little Men for who they are.
Joe Torre forsook the job he coveted because he has too much pride and self-respect to accept the humiliating and degrading terms in which the Little Men couched it. Joe Torre declined the offer because he would not play their scapegoat. Joe Torre spurned the opportunity because he would not accept sole responsibility for the success the Little Men portray as failure. Joe Torre rejected them because he could not abide the abject insult their incentive clauses implied.
No, predictably, Joe Torre would not debase himself for $5 million; not for the prestige of his title; not for the roar of the crowd; not for proximity to dignitaries and celebrities; not to prolong his moment in the limelight. Joe Torre would not grovel and scrape and dive for the Blood Money the Little Men threw on the floor.
No, Joe Torre thanked them and he walked away without protest or rancor. And never more did his class, his dignity, his magnanimity throw the pettiness, the baseness, the cowardice of the Yankees' Little Men into lower relief.
One marvels at the smugness and the self-delusion of these Little Men. So worried were they of enraging and alienating their customer, they compounded their insolence and their dishonesty by professing surprise-- Renaultian shock, even-- that Joe Torre would decline their degrading offer-- and in staging their charade did nothing but insult our intelligence. Do they really think so little of their fans that they think we would buy the transparent chicanery they purveyed?
More worrisome, do these Little Men so devoid of courage and honesty really believe that the free agents players they were loath to antagonize by firing their manager outright will not see right through their duplicity?
Four years after the tepid, disingenuous, eleventh-hour offer to Andy Pettitte that drove him to Houston; one year after refusing to extend the contract of their indispensable catcher, after declining to renew the contract of their immortal closer, after waiting until Spring Training to vouchsafe their still productive 16-year center-fielder a demeaning, non-guaranteed minor-league contract: Do these Little Men, after their affront to the manager Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte consider a father figure, really believe their free agents will re-sign after the way they treated him-- will re-sign simply because the Little Men are prepared to offer them prodigious sums of money. No, even after Andy Pettitte himself fled to Houston in 2003 for much less because the Yankees' disrespected him, the Little Men upstairs, evidently, still haven't learned their lesson.
They don't understand why the $300 million they spend annually has bought neither the players' loyalty nor the fans' love only their manager could inspire. How stubbornly obtuse, how self-satsified these Little Men reveal themselves to be. Such is the entitlement of sons who inherit money and think they earned it. Such is the vice of opportunists who usurp power and think they merited it.
So, for now, the Little Men have gotten what they for long contrived. They can have their ordinary and pliable manager whose celebrity and stature will not overshadow them. They can obtain all the credit and plaudits Joe Torre's prestige denied them. They can have their opportunity to demonstrate that anyone can manage a team with a $230 million payroll and deliver it to the post-season. They can prove their cyncial belief in the power of the all-mighty dollar. And they can show their fans that their free agents who threatened to follow their beloved father-confessor out the door, unlike their manager, possess a loyalty that extends no farther than money.
So concludes the Golden Torre interregnum in the sordid, everlasting reign of the Bronx's Little Men.
Let them know however, if they prove wrong and all their money can't save them from their pettiness and insolence, their self-destructive malice and unreason, and Posada and Rivera and Pettite, for the second time, leave and A-Rod, seeing only adversity ahead, follows, and the Yankees return to a third-rate, mediocrity behind Toronto and Boston: let them know their prodigious attendance records, their prolific network revenues, the reservoir of affection and respect and loyalty Joe Torre's class brought and the well of rancor, and duplicity and effrontery his nobility shielded -- all will desert them.
And then, may the Little Men see themselves for who they are.
And may they suffer the Peoples' Wrath.
POST-SCRIPT: THE PETTINESS OF PRINCE HENRY
"Oh, how wretched is the poor man that hangs on prince's favor"-- Henry VIII
If their squalid purge of Joe Torre hadn't already revealed King George's Court for all its imperial condescension, its abject pettiness, and consummate obtuseness (See above), then Prince Hank's comments on Sunday flaunted it for us all to see.
The vindictive little Prince poked his head out of the royal bunker to kick his fallen manager once more. http://www.nypost.com/seven/10212007/news/nationalnews/boss_jr__fires_a_spitball_at_i.htm
Joe Torre is an ingrate, Prince Henry declared, "Where was Joe's career in '95 when my dad... [gave] him that opportunity-- and the great team he was handed."
"Handed?" What a mordant irony! The entitled Prince rebukes the man who rose from a violent, working-class home through talent, intelligence, and self-deprecating charm for not genuflecting in appreciation for the status and success allegedly "handed" him on a silver platter.
"Handed"! Handed, as though the Yankees managerial job were some sinecure, an act of patronage King George, in his infinite generosity, vouchsafes on some select, undeserving peon. Is their any more piquant illustration of how little regard the Steinbrenner clan has for their managers' work, in general, and Joe Torre's contribution, in particular?
Yes, in 1996, they “handed” Joe Torre a closer John Wetteland whose confidence his predecessor had decimated. They “handed” Joe Torre a middle-reliever, Mariano Rivera, whose talent and promise no one else in the organization seemed to have noticed. They “handed” Joe Torre a pitching staff devoid of an ace because a 146-pitch game in the '05 ALDS sidelined David Cone all-season with an aneurysm. They “handed” Joe Torre a first-baseman whose slow start incited a jeering crowd. They “handed” Joe Torre a hole at second-base that he plugged with a utility man who responded with a career best season. They “handed” Joe Torre a Texan pitcher the pressure of New York so unnerved he would vomit before his starts. They “handed” Joe Torre the first World Series the franchise had won in 18 years. Yes, they handed it all to him, says the King's entitled heir. Joe Torre, in his own right, evidently, made no contribution worth mentioning.
What's remarkable, however, is that in the same breath Prince Hal cannot fathom why Torre would construe the Prince's patronage-- a one-year irrevocable offer at 30% pay-cut, with "motivation"-based performance incentives besides-- as a reproach, an insult, a symbolic expression of just how expendable they viewed their manager. A perceived dispensability that Prince Hank's own comments, now, explicitly affirm.
Perhaps, then, we should take Prince Hank at his word, then, when expresses shock at the universal opprobrium the King's Court has since received. Perhaps, we should believe him too when he says, "[he] sincerely wanted Joe to accept that offer." Perhaps, the offer he and the rest of King George's Court devised was not the ruthless, Machiavellian ploy with which their critics have credited them. No, the King's Court, evidently, is too arrogant to resort to low cunning. And what's more, their too obtuse to comprehend why a 12-year employee tendered an irrevocable, non-negotiable pay cut and “bonuses” that would task him alone with recent failures would signal to him disapproval of his work and contempt for his record.
No, the King's Court subjected Joe Torre to far worse than a ploy. They proffered him a mea culpa to sign, an offer tantamount to terms of surrender. For to accept them, Joe Torre would have had to admit to their implication that he alone is to blame for the Yankees’ last three ALDS defeats; that he alone bear responsibility for an entire organization’s failures and to forces beyond his control. And more odious still, the King’s Court is so smug and arrogant they profess incomprehension that Joe Torre was neither so contrite nor so desperate as to submit to their terms.
Alas, here in all its unabashed sordidness stands the smallness of All King George's Men.
Pity them their blind insolence. And pity us Yankee fans for loving the Kingdom they rule.