Amidst the relative sanity that is on-the-field baseball – at least when Kenny Lofton isn’t charging the mound from first base – King Georgie rears his petulant head and makes his serf (did I say “serf”? I meant “manager”) an offer to come back. This is a privilege, you understand, because just a week ago His Petulance decreed that if the Yankees didn’t come back to beat the Indians in the ALDS, He probably wouldn’t take Joe Torre back. “Take him back,” mind you, not offer him a new contract. The Yankees did not win the series, yet He – out of the goodness of His (whatever sits where most people keep a heart) – decided to “take Torre back” anyway.
Of course unlike a fly ball to Cust, there was a catch. Torre was only offered a contract with incentives that were “based on how far the Yankees advanced in the playoffs.” Which, of course, Torre can control through his managing. For example, with Jeter up and a runner at first, a poor manager might put on the “strike out” play, while a more savvy manager might put on the “double in a run”. In the 6th inning of a tight game, your more naïve skippers will call for Ron Villone, whereas the wily veteran manager will have the good sense to put in Sandy Koufax.
Yes, it wasn’t enough to humiliate Torre right in the middle of the ALDS by threatening to hold his job hostage to the players’ performances, and it wasn’t bad enough to refer to future negotiations as merely whether or not He would “take Torre back”. King Georgie (whom you may have gathered is not quite “my cup of tea”) had to offer a one year “let’s just see how it goes” contract – to his 12 year veteran manager – with incentives based on the performances of whoever He provided for his serf (there I go again, I really meant to say manager) to oversee.
And then comes the beautiful part: Torre said “No thanks.” Because you can take away someone’s freedom, his possessions, his money, his job, the clothes off his back. But not even George Steinbrenner can take away a man’s dignity just because He wants to. Not this man, not this time. Attaboy, Joe.