Frantz: The Yankee way is a cowardly way

There’s a right way to do things and there’s a wrong way to do things. The New York Yankees appear to have a company policy mandating that they choose the wrong way.

It’s the wrong way to do things when you abandon your club’s farm system after winning four titles in six years, in the hopes of keeping the string going by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into your free-agent payroll, then coming up empty for seven straight seasons.

And it’s the wrong way to do things when you’re too cowardly to fire the manager who has guided your collection of misfits for 12 long years, enduring the incessant sniping of his meddlesome owner with dignity and class, by forcing him to fire himself.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner went out of his way to issue an ultimatum to Joe Torre during New York’s AL Division Series with Cleveland. He told a newspaper reporter — not Torre himself, but a newspaper reporter — that if the Yankees didn’t win that series, he was not going to invite Torre back. Then, after losing the series in four games, The Boss, along with general manager Brian Cashman, club president Randy Levine and Steinbrenner’s two sons, left Torre to twist in the wind for a few days while they tried to find a way to get rid of him without drawing the wrath of the Yankee faithful.

You see, unlike the Yankee brass, New York fans had a deep appreciation for everything their skipper had done in his 12 years in the dugout. They respected his ability to keep a clubhouse full of volatile personalities focused on one unified goal, year in and year out, and they desperately wanted him to return. Knowing full well that firing Torre for failing to win a world championship for the seventh straight season would alienate the base, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, who have begun to take control of the club as their father’s health concerns rise, used an insulting, incentive-laden contract offer to absolve themselves of any responsibility.

The offer of a one-year deal for $5 million, with a $3 million bonus to reach the World Series, was flatly rejected by the proud Torre, allowing the Yankees’ execs to claim that it was Torre who wanted out.

“I sincerely wanted Joe to accept that offer,” Hank Steinbrenner said over the weekend. “We all wanted him to accept it.”

That’s some cowardly lyin’.

If they truly wanted Torre back, then why would they slap him in the face with a drastic paycut and the type of incentive package usually reserved for, let’s say … a 45-year-old starting pitcher who may have only fumes left in the tank? Oh wait — Roger Clemens earned his pro-rated $28 million dollar salary this year without incentives. My mistake.

“Where was Joe’s career in ’95 when my dad hired him?” Hank asked the New York Post. “Let’s not forget what my dad did in giving him that opportunity — and the great team he was handed.”

So in the very same interview in which he claims to have wanted Torre to return, the young Steinbrenner is planting the “anybody could have managed our roster of all-stars” knife in his back.

An old adage in coaching and managing says that coaches are hired to be fired. It happens all the time. Sometimes it’s performance, sometimes it’s a clash of personalities, sometimes it’s the whim of a megalomaniacal owner who answers to no one but the man he sees in the mirror each day. But to disrespect a man of great dignity and pride the way the Yankees did, because they were too afraid to anger their paying customers, is despicable.

Can you imagine Giants owner Peter Magowan or general manager Brian Sabean throwing a public lowball at Dusty Baker or Felipe Alou when it was time to part ways, just so he could say, “Dusty left us, we didn’t leave him”?

Neither can I.

Yes, there is a right way to do things. And then there’s the Yankee way.

Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to TheExaminer. E-mail him at bfrantz@examiner.com.

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

New protected bicycle lanes stretch from the city's Portola District to Bernal Heights. (Courtesy Bay City News)
City leaders celebrate protected bike lanes in city’s Portola, Bernal Heights neighborhoods

San Francisco city leaders on Thursday announced the completion of new protected… Continue reading

A short walk leads to the base of Yosemite Falls, requiring no snow gear except in heavy winter conditions. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Snowy destinations abound in Yosemite winter

Those who journey to the mountains discover grand scenery, solitude .

Most Read