"You never complain about pressure because you understand it goes with what you do," Torre said yesterday at a news conference at Yankee Stadium. "With the danger of failing is the elation of winning. You can't get elated unless there's a danger."
Joe Torre was sharply dressed yesterday as he addressed the media at Yankee Stadium. His wife, Ali, was with him. After talking to several people about the situation, and then reading the papers this morning, it occurs to me that Torre needs the job as Yankee manager as much as they need him. Perhaps even more so. With two ex-wives, four kids, and more than a few houses to maintain, Torre was simply not going to walk away from $7 million. But it is more than that, of course. Torre will be paid handsomely (if not quite as handsomely) as a TV analyst and a regular on the lecture circut when he finally hangs up the spikes, but he'll never have the prestige and glamour that he currently enjoys as the manager of the Yankees.
That is a lot to give up and Torre is obviously willing to allow himself to be left hung-out-to-dry for several days by the owner as the local media speculated wildly about his future. In the past he has put-up with being second-guessed by his owner, and allowed Steinbrenner to trash his coaches, stuff Buck Showalter would not put up with (you can see Lou Piniella telling George to take-this-job-and-shove-it if he had been in the same situation as Torre was this week). Of course, the Boss at 76 is different from the man who ran the team by fear and intimidation in the 70s and 80s, and Torre has achieved far more success than any manager George had before him. Still, I can't help but feel how much the job matters to Torre, and am struck by how much he'll deal with in order to keep the position.
"The interesting part is, when you say it's been six years, if I'm not mistaken, it was 18 years when I got here," Torre said. "And then in '98, it was: 'Hey, it's been two years since you won. What happened?' There's a lot of luck involved.
"I don't want you to think I'm backing off any accountability. I'm in charge here, it's my responsibility to make sure we get the job done, and we didn't get the job done. But there's a lot of luck."
For all the talk of the character and guts and will that the '96-'01 Yankees had when compared with the '02-'06 teams, some observers believe that the critical difference between the two is nothing more than pure luck. And here is Torre saying as much himself. He should know. Torre's monumentally bad luck for most of his career as a player and as a manager has been well-documented. Then he enjoyed one of the most improbable runs of luck, good fortune, whatever you want to call it, that any manager in baseball has ever been blessed with (certainly in the free agent era). Now, he returns to the hot seat once again, hoping to roll a lucky seven one more time before the ride is finally over.