Monday, October 09, 2006

Torre, the Lion Tamer, out in The Bronx Zoo?

I used to cover the New York Yankees in the bad, old days, when the Bronx Zoo was open for business and Geore Steinbrenner more resembled the Mad Hatter than Daddy Warbucks.

During my first year on the beat, in 1982, Steinbrenner, full of fury after having lost the '81 World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, employed three managers and six pitching coaches. More aptly, some would say tortured.

More incredible, still, the zoo keeper put 54 different players in pinstripes that season, astounding considering the 25-man roster capacity usually has a limiting effect on just how many bodies you can jettison at one time.

All that nonsense continued for the better part of a decade - in which the insanity always trumped the endless investment of millions. The Yankees did not win because they could not get out of their own way, or check the turbulence at the clubhouse door.

Joe Torre ended all of that. During his reign, Steinbrenner's reach was shortened. The Boss couldn't secure through bullying became routine because baseball people started to rule the day.

Now Torre is in trouble because a hot Detroit pitching staff ended the Yankees' October run. The Bombers may have won four World Series titles under Torre, but none since 2001 - and that is simply not acceptable to GMS III.

So expect Steinbrenner to waive the most successful manager employed by the Yankees in the last half century.

The Yankees are about to fall down the rabbit hole, where the Mad Hatter - and chaos surely await.

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