Yanks do right by Torre

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

NEW YORK -- If the year was 1986 rather than 2006, Joe Torre would be gone, sent over the Triborough Bridge without toll money, his EZ Pass revoked.

But yesterday, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner told Torre he would be back next season, this after letting his manager swing in the wind for almost 21/2 days. The Daily News reported Sunday that Torre would be fired and replaced with Lou Piniella, who managed the Yankees previously from 1986 to 1988.

And what a storm that set off after the Yanks had been eliminated Saturday by the Detroit Tigers in the first round.

The New York Mets are on the back-burner, although they open their best-of-seven National League Championship Series tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Two-day totals from Monday and Tuesday -- no less than 31 pages of coverage on Torre and the Yanks in the News and the Post, to just 15 on the Mets.

This is a Yankee town, even when they are eliminated. Could Steinbrenner have been playing for the back pages? Next to the Boston Red Sox, the Mets are next on his dislike list, as they compete with the Yanks for corporate dollars.

Two decades ago, Piniella was the manager of the Yanks, one of 14 different managers -- not counting repeat skippers -- Steinbrenner hired in an 18 seasons.

With Torre staying, look for Alex Rodriguez, his eighth-place hitter on Saturday, to go, even though Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said yesterday he "fully expects (Rodriguez)to be here" next year. Had Piniella been hired A-Rod would have been golden since the two were together with the Seattle Mariners.

Cashman and others in the organization insisted Torre was not to blame for three consecutive losses.

After Sunday's news broke, Torre's wife was interviewed while jogging, he and his wife were tracked down entering church and camera crews staked out his Weschester house.

Usually Torre shows up the day after the Yankees are eliminated to discuss the season. Torre didn't show Sunday or Monday, but he was at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

"Just got off the phone with George a few minutes ago and he informed I will be back as manager," a somewhat angry looking Torre said after he sat down to address reporters.

"This has been the best job I've ever had. The year ended very abruptly, but the season itself was very gratifying. All those (reporters) hanging around my house, I thought they figured I'd discovered a cure for cancer."

Torre was praised for managing the Yanks despite lengthy injuries to Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield and some said this was his best managing job in 11 seasons.

The Yankees won the opener against Detroit, lost three straight and ... POOF!

It was gone.

It was more than three bad games. After winning 14 of 16 post-season series (a 56-22 won-loss record) and four World Series from 1996 to 2001, Torre's Yanks are 19-22 in October. They've lost five of their past eight series, including blowing a 3-0 lead over the Red Sox in 2004, getting bounced by Anaheim in 2005 and now Detroit this season.

"Losing is not something I'm crazy about," said Torre when asked about the previous two days. "It's like falling off a cliff -- you're going along, doing what you're doing and all of a sudden it stops. I can't say I'm stunned, I know what the organization expects, especially from its manager. It goes with the territory."

Torre, who has managed the Yanks to 11 consecutive post-season appearances, explained how when the Yanks arrive in Tampa each spring they don't talk about "having a good year," they talk about going to the World Series.

"I got a lot of credit when things finished well. Each time I credited George -- I wouldn't have been in a position without his support and money," Torre said. "You can't pick and choose the parts you like about working for George Steinbrenner.

"You have to understand the whole package and the whole package has been pretty damn good."

Even if that includes paragraph 11, subsection 14: "Manager may be forced to swing in the wind for two days."

In the end, though, Steinbrenner made the right decision.


Videos

Photos