Friday, September 24, 2010

Forgiveness for Joe Torre only goes so far

For a guy retiring in two weeks, Joe Torre can't seem to get out of the limelight.

After two years of virtually ignoring his existence, the New York Yankees finally invited Torre back into the family, inviting the soon-to-be-ex Dodgers manager to attend the ceremony honoring George Steinbrenner and receive the loudest ovation from fans who still love him. Brian Cashman, obviously deeply hurt by the things said about him in Torre's book the Yankee Years, was willing to let bygones be bygones.

But does that mean they are willing to finally give Torre his rightful place in Monument Park? Not anytime soon. The Yankees can't be sure Torre means it when he says he is ready to walk away from baseball. They can't be sure Torre won't completely embarrass them by managing their cross-town rival Mets, despite Torre supposedly closing the door on that opportunity. And if he was somehow able to turn things around in Queens, a plaque in Monument Park would be a constant reminder of that. I don't think Torre is going to get the Yankee Stadium recognition he deserves until he is retired for a few years and it becomes clear he is not coming back to baseball.

One person not willing to forgive and forget is David Wells, who called Torre a terrible manager and a coward because he had Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre tell Wells he would be passed over for a postseason start. I don't buy that particular criticism because Torre isn't the only manager to leave dealing with pitchers' fragile egos to the coach closest to them. But Wells made a legitimate point about Torre not treating all his players the same. By Torre's own admission, he played favorites with guys such as Derek Jeter over Alex Rodriguez.

I can also understand why Wells is still upset about Torre's book. I was very surprised by the manager's infamous quote: "The difference between Kevin Brown and David Wells is that both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to.” Boomer may be responsible for some of Torre's hair loss, but he also played a big role in getting one of those four World Series rings that will take Torre to the Hall of Fame. Brown, on the other hand, contributed to Torre's biggest professional failure as a manager, losing the American League Championship Series to the hated Red Sox after being up three games to none.

Forgiveness only goes so far.

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