October 22, 2007

How Many Yankee Executives Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?

So it's the end of the Joe Torre Era and, essentially, the end of the George Steinbrenner Era... and the new Yankee brain trust just took 10 days to massively botch their first major decision. Not a good sign, people.

I should've jumped into this fray earlier, because by now you're sick of reading about it, but in short: I can understand the desire to bring in a new manager; my only real issue with it, sentimentality aside, is that I'm not sure there's a better candidate than Joe Torre available right now. But like most Yankee fans, I think, I'll hear you out if you want to argue that it's time for a change. The way they went about it, however, could hardly have been more inept -- "they" here referring to a vague oligarchy that includes the two Steinbrenner sons, one son-in-law, Brian Cashman, COO Lonn Trost (great name), and last but not least Randy Levine, who managed the tricky feat of going from virtually unknown among average Yankee fans to universally despised in the span of just 48 hours.

The only bright thing to come out of this mess is that it led to a flock of reporters racing around Tampa in search of the Yankee meetings, and then settling in for a completely fruitless stakeout, which led to a number of amusing articles and an absolutely classic hour-by-hour live blog on NJ.com:

2 p.m.: Meetings and smoke breaks

The meetings continue. Every 40 to 60 minutes, Hank Steinbrenner (the older son and the one more involved in baseball decisions) takes a smoke break on the concrete open-air stairwell outside George Steinbrenner's office on the south end of the fourth floor of Legends Field.

For his last break, at about 1:40 p.m., Hank was accompanied by brother-in-law Felix Lopez.

3 p.m.: Grounds gets attention

As the meeting continue (as far as I can tell) in the Legends Field offices, a grounds crew attends to the half-field just outside the stadium.

The field is used for pickoff drills, pitchers' fielding practice and perhaps bunt work. So there seems no way it will be used until mid-February. But the workers are cutting the grass and watering the dirt as if a game will be played there tonight.

4 p.m.: Meetings may be over

There is some activity here that leads one to believe the meeting is breaking up soon...

Sports writing is a glamorous business, and never let anyone tell you different! Anyway, live updates aside, the situation was a total mess, leaving Torre and the fans ticked off and the Yankee ownership-by-committee looking self-serving, indecisive, two-faced, and scared.

As usual, it's not the underhanded shenanigans that bother me, but their clumsiness in executing same -- I enjoy a good Machiavellian power play as much as anyone, it just pisses me off when people don't take the time to disguise it intelligently. Randy Levine: "We were all stunned and remain stunned that he turned the deal down." Literally, and I am not making this up, my superintendent's 12-year-old grandson immediately knew that this was bullshit. Now granted he's a bright kid, but come on -- if you can't lie any better than that, how the hell did you ever manage to climb the corporate ladder in the first place?

I can already feel the nostalgia coming on, yet I've never been a George Steinbrenner fan -- the yelling and irrational firings, the compulsive trades, the illegal contributions to the Nixon campaign... he put money into the team and he wanted to win as badly as any fan, and I admire that, but didn't like a lot of what came with it. Still, he was his own guy: he did what he wanted, and he didn't give a rat's ass if anyone else liked it, which they usually didn't. I don't want to romanticize him too much, because he's hardly a hero, but at least his particular brand of sinister wasn't bland or sneaky or bureaucratic. These new guys will slowly bleed you dry with a thousand tiny paper cuts; Steinbrenner ripped out your spine with his bare hands and beat you to death with it. In retrospect, I have to respect that.

I'll have more soon on Sox/Rox. And by the way, has anyone heard from the Mets recently? It's awfully quiet over there.... think we should we send someone over to check on them?


LOK said...

The way the oligarchy dealt with Joe Torre is exactly the way a guy acts when he wants to break up with you without taking responsibility for it: he treats you shabbily until you call things off, and then says, "I didn't end it, it was HER decision." Yankees' senior management = the ultimate bad boyfriend.

JL25and3 said...

Emma, you should check out the interview with Dave LaRoche over at BP. He talks about his eephus pitch. (OK, LaLob, but that name came a little later.)

K-Fed said...

Lok, women do the same thing.

perhaps not as much for various reason, but they do.

but there's no such thing as the fairer sex (ie Barbara Bush)

Lok said...

K-fed, of course you're right!--I should have taken the time to phrase my observation in gender-neutral terms. (Guess I couldn't resist the alliteration of "bad boyfriend.")

But the point still stands, yes?--Levine and the Steinbrenner spawn tried to use that passive-aggressive tactic to deflect responsibility for their shameful actions onto Torre. And as Emma commented, even a twelve-year-old kid could see through that.

sue p said...

Joe go home count your money,rake the leaves and consider yourself
well rid of the stripes.

Al said...

Holy Cow!!

way to go, Papa Eephus!!

Rest in peace, Orson

Polidoor said...

Dear Emma, where are you? Torre to the Dodgers, the Yankees have a new manager, A-rod opting out, Andy unsure about coming back, ... the Eephus Pitch must have something smart to say about all that and more. I miss your original pitch on all yhe news in yankeeland and metsnation.