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Here Comes Success, Over My Hill
2007-09-26 22:16
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

I realized tonight: it’s a little strange that I have, literally, dozens of happy memories associated with watching a 60-something year old man weep openly on national television. That man, of course, is Joe Torre, and the occasion tonight was the Yankees’ 12-4 win and newly clinched playoff spot – in a year where, as you may have heard, they were at one point just a teensy bit back in the standings. You may hate Joe Torre’s managing style, you may think he should be fired at the end of the season, but it’s still hard to be unmoved by such a great example of a classic American type: the crusty, tough old outer-borough New Yorker with a sentimental streak a mile wide. Nobody in sports cries like Joe Torre.

Under the circumstances, you couldn’t ask for a much better hand of cards than Chien-Ming Wang vs. J.P. Howell at the Trop. In the days since they’ve dropped the “Devil” from their logo and uniforms, the Rays have attracted an enormous and enthusiastic crowd of devoted Christian fans, who -- … okay, not really. The place was maybe half full, and by the sound of it, the crowd was at least 80% pro-Yankee.

Wang wasn’t at his best tonight, and struggled a bit with his control, but he kept the damage to a minimum. Despite allowing seven hits and three walks in six innings, he only allowed two runs. Meanwhile, the Yankees couldn’t do much against Howell their first time through the order (if they lost I was going to say the offense was a “Howelling abyss”, so be grateful they pulled this one out), but in the fourth inning they took a 2-1 lead on a Jeter solo shot and an error, walk, and series of groundouts. In the fifth, Howell lost it completely, and his bullpen relief didn’t do much better: the Yankees batted around and scored seven runs, with the big blows a bases-loaded Jorge Posada single, and Robinson Cano’s subsequent three-run home run.

For all intents and purposes the game was over, though New York did tack on three more in the next inning against Jeff Ridgway, proud owner of a 189.00 ERA. (But did I mention that they’ve removed the “Devil” from their uniforms? Come on down!). I don’t think anyone was paying much attention to the last four innings, including, judging by their defense, the Rays. And Jorge Posada was apparently so surprised to see Jay Witasick still alive and pitching in the majors that he did a violent double-take, and appeared to tweak his neck (that’s my theory, anyway), but stayed in the game. Joba Chamberlain got through a scoreless inning with help from an excellent Melky Cabrera catch; Jose Vizcaino ran into trouble in the eighth and gave up two runs; Mariano Rivera came on for the ninth, not because he was needed, but because Torre wanted his stalwarts in the game when they clinched.

Which they did, finally, when Greg Norton popped out to Robinson Cano. Torre, as he has so many times before under similar circumstances, had already begun to tear up when the ball hit the mitt. It was a relatively subdued celebration on the mound – lots of smiles and warm hugs, a little jumping around, but not too much craziness. That didn't last once the team reached the clubhouse, however: most of the bullpen ganged up on Roger Clemens, who was at the receiving end of at least five spraying bottles at once, and was so blinded Jorge Posada had to lead him to safety. Mariano Rivera got it just as bad. Derek Jeter, on the other hand, stayed mostly dry – “I know where to hide,” he explained later, when it was safe (I don’t think Jeter really starts celebrating until the ALCS).

A sopping wet Joba Chamberlain was asked by Kim Jones if he even feels nervous on the mound anymore: “I play it off pretty good, don’t I?” he asked with a grin. "With the playoffs coming we’ve got a chance to do some special things and THAT’S REALLY COLD,” he added, as Edwar Ramirez doused him in beer. (You’ve gotta love the part of the celebration where they run out of champagne and just switch to Bud). Later, a tag team of Ramirez, Cano and Chamberlain succeeded in completely and utterly distracting Abreu from his YES interview, leaving him laughing helplessly in the middle of a lost thought, as Ramirez gently toweled him off.

The emotional highlight, though, was as always Joe Torre. He was already looking dangerously sniffly when the interview began; when Cano and Cabrera dumped two entire bottles of champagne on his head, he choked up. “You love them,” he said. “I mean, I can’t help it.” When Kim Jones told him the vets had been praising his leadership and resilience, the real waterworks began.

Torre's status for next year is up in the air, and if the Yankees go down in the Division Series again, this could very well be his last emotional, booze-soaked moment of triumph with the Yankees. He took a lot of criticism this year, some of it very valid, but there's no doubt he'll be missed when he's gone; maybe he can manage a bullpen better or maybe not, but will Joe Girardi ever be as moved by a couple of giddy kids bouncing around with champagne?

Comments
2007-09-27 06:11:02
1.   williamnyy23
0 Would you really describe Joe as crusty and tough? I have aways thought of him as friendly and sensitive....Granpa Joe.

It's fun watching Torre get emotional, and he is hard to not like, but win or lose, I think it is still time to make a change, assuming the Yankees can indentify the right candidate.

2007-09-27 06:15:15
2.   williamnyy23
If you have access to MLB Audio, Sterling's 9th inning recap is a must listen. Nothing beats Jam Master J reciting the words to the Best of Times Is Now.
2007-09-27 06:19:51
3.   RIYank
Awesome, thank you, Emma.

En-er-GY! En-er-GY! En-er-GY! En-er-GY! En-er-GY!

2007-09-27 06:22:04
4.   Sliced Bread
I haven't checked No Maas yet but I'm guessing they're chalking up last night's victory as a Torre Loss as Vizcaino was forced to pitch.

I'm not the type to slap political statements on my bumper, but I'd proudly rock a "Torre In '08" sticker.

For the record, I drive a trusty, rusty 4-Runner, not a 4-Ringer.

2007-09-27 06:22:49
5.   vockins
This will be the last time I am a self serving jackass, but if anyone applied for the PS ticket purchase password but isn't going to use it, please drop me a line at vockins at yahoo.

and go yankees

2007-09-27 06:23:47
6.   RIYank
I kind of wish Andy Phillips had been in the clubhouse for the celebration.
2007-09-27 06:24:38
7.   Alex Belth
I will never get tired of watching Joe cry. As a matter of fact, I will likely romanticize that aspect of him forever. Love it.
2007-09-27 06:27:31
8.   Sliced Bread
Oh, and if the Yanks do decide to replace Joe I nominate Ali Larter.
2007-09-27 06:38:13
9.   Knuckles
Howzabout co-managers?
Ali Larter and Al Leiter? Kim Jones can put the microphone in Ali's face, and Al can talk from off-camera.
2007-09-27 06:47:46
10.   Sliced Bread
0 'Jorge Posada was apparently so surprised to see Jay Witasick still alive and pitching in the majors that he did a violent double-take, and appeared to tweak his neck (that's my theory, anyway), but stayed in the game.'

You rock, E-Span!

2007-09-27 06:49:28
11.   Shaun P
pistolpete - man, if we ever meet, I owe you about ten drinks. The clips are awesome, thank you for letting us transplanted NYers live the celebration!

Torre better keep himself in shape, so that he's around to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he does retire. I'll be there, and I bet many of you will be too.

2007-09-27 06:52:43
12.   konstantinekid
Hey, just wanted to say that I love your blog. And the fact that you used words from an IGGY POP song as the title to this last post just pretty much made me understand why. Keep it up.

Joe crying, Doug M. seemed close to doing so to, the joy in everyones faces, kim jones absolutely drenched, made me choke up too. I love this team with all my heart. Go Yankees.

2007-09-27 07:09:01
13.   williamnyy23
Don't look now, but Doug Mientkiewicz has his OPS+ up to 110.
2007-09-27 07:14:45
14.   pistolpete
Since it probably got buried in last night's post, here's the link to ALL the postgame stuff last night, not just the 3 interviews that YES threw up on their YT account:

http://tinyurl.com/238wnt

In case you didn't see it live, that is. :)

2007-09-27 07:16:46
15.   wsporter
4 Slice, you still have my proxy. Let's get those bumper stickers printed! I don't put em on my cars either although for this one I might make an exception. If not, maybe we can use them to cover the 'Petulant Puppy's' big mouth.
2007-09-27 07:18:00
16.   pistolpete
11 Yer welcome - I was panicking last night around 1am when YES started posting their own set of videos, but luckily they stopped with about 3 or 4.

Plus, you have the added bonus of seeing me fidle with my DVR settings while they make the final out! :P

2007-09-27 07:24:14
17.   pistolpete
0 Sorry about the repost - didn't realize it was linked up in today's article. Very subtle! :)
2007-09-27 07:25:26
18.   Bob B
The celebration was great but the highlight for me was watching Mike Mussina jump on the back of Shelley Duncan, then running away when he saw that Duncan was going to celebrate on him(and likely put him out of the Post season).
2007-09-27 07:32:57
19.   Bama Yankee
The YES cameras caught this scene early this morning:
http://tinyurl.com/3yce3w
2007-09-27 07:39:59
20.   Just fair
Couldn't get enough of last night's festivities.
3 things that made me laugh
1) Jeter to Kim Jones before she ased her first question, he deadpanned, "Nice Look." She definitely looked like a drowned rat by the end.
2) Cano dropping a spanish F-bomb after one of the other young'ns doused him. My wife had to clue me in to this one.
3) Michael Kay said the other night he would be worried about Shelly Duncan in the clubhouse "just smashing champagne bottles around,"
Classic. Bring on the Tribe.
2007-09-27 07:50:22
21.   Dimelo
4 Count me in too. Where do I get the "Torre In '08" bumper sticker? Win or lose, I do NOT think it is time for a change.

I will say this too, there isn't a manager in history who hasn't been critiqued for his bullpen usage, at some point in their career it bites them in their ass. Torre isn't above this, but what bugs me is when people start saying stuff like:
"I hate Torre"
"Fire Torre"
"Clueless Joe"
"Mr.Green Tea"
"Torre kills bullpen arms"

I just think his teams have given me so many great memories that if I start complaining about the bad times, then it makes the good times meaningless. You stick with someone through the good and bad, if you believe in them. I always believed in Torre.

I take the attitude of my team's leader, in 1995 I was more jittery because I'd see Buck look nervous and anxious.

Even when things were bad, I did get nervous and angry during some brief moments, but then I'd see Torre and he managed to give me comfort that things will be alright. Since 1996, I've been using that logic and it hasn't failed me and this year has been no different. Sometimes you have to ride the wave.....and it's been a Tsunami type of wave this year.

Joe, thanks for the memories.....I never stopped believing in you.

Play today, win today. Let's go Yanks!!!

2007-09-27 07:52:01
22.   Dimelo
BTW, seeing Torre crying also made me miss those hugs Torre would share with Bernie. Yesterday made me a bit melancholy because Bernie wasn't there too.
2007-09-27 08:04:21
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
6 I don't know if you caught it, RI, but Mientkiewicz got emotional talking about Phillips last night. He said he felt crushed for the guy when he went down because of all he'd contributed and because of how it feels to suddenly be unable to play.

He's a good guy, that Dougie.

2007-09-27 08:06:47
24.   weeping for brunnhilde
22 I know. I thought of Bernie too.
2007-09-27 08:10:34
25.   VinceMig
What is with Kim Jones with Jeter? "Are you going to have a few days to rest your body that hurts a lot more than you will ever admit?"

Uh, do you really have to add in that last little part? I'm sure Jeter was getting annoyed.

2007-09-27 08:17:38
26.   bp1
22 I'm with ya on that one.

23 Yeah - that was some interview. I was like "wow - who is this humble guy". Didn't seem at all like the guy who would arguing with the Sox about who owned that baseball. Maybe he just hated the Sox. Maybe he's not such a bad guy afterall, lol.

Funny, I sorta thought Jeter was a wet blanket during the whole thing. Shouldn't the captain of the team be in the middle of the mess, instead of off to the side saying things like "It feels good and we're in the playoffs, but we have a lot of work left. This is a starting point. We haven't accomplished anything yet." Yeah yeah yeah - we know that, Derek. We get it, but geez for one night couldn't you just keep that in and celebrate? The team did accomplish something - a thing most sports pundits said was all but impossible just a few months ago. Give the "world series or failure" a rest for just one night, would ya?

Joe was great, as usual. Kim Jones - God bless her - gets blasted every year. I wonder if she volunteers for that duty or draws the short straw. She was a mess, but looked like she was having a great time just the same.

Great night. I was choked up right along with Joe. Can't help it. I was proud, too.

2007-09-27 08:25:24
27.   SF Yanks
Torre for '08! Count me in. Ehhhh... throw me in for '09 and '10 too while yer at it :)
2007-09-27 08:29:58
28.   yankz
14 Thanks again.
2007-09-27 08:33:32
29.   thelarmis
27 i'm down, too! : )

i hope hughes pitches a solid game tonight. i have a feeling he'll have to come up big in the PS and it would be nice to go in on a high note...

2007-09-27 08:33:50
30.   ChrisS
This will probably seem harsh, but for the record I think Joe Torre is a great guy and a super human being.

However, I can't let that change my opinion that he's horrible with bullpens, makes downright strange strategic moves, and is over reliant on vets, unless his hand is forced.

That Joe Torre is a good guy with a special relationship with his players doesn't my perception of his baseball acumen.

2007-09-27 08:36:28
31.   Shaun P
24 And Jim Dean. Props to whoever did the moment of silence for him last night.

4 Torre in '08? Sure thing, as long as the only 'veterans' available for the bullpen are Mo and Viz (goodbye Villone, Farns, and Bruney), and Joba starts no matter what, and Betemit is the BUMI. =)

2007-09-27 08:42:07
32.   Jersey
14 PistolPete: You are the bomb.

No, no, wait...you are the bomb DIGGITY.

2007-09-27 08:49:54
33.   williamnyy23
30 Needless to say, I agree with you. Clearly, after an emotional night like yesterday, the warm feelings for Joe will override the more rational assessment of his management skill. Hopefully, Joe can avoid the many playoff gaffes of the past few seasons, and we all get to watch him sob three more times. Regardless, when all is said and done, Cashman will have to make a big decision. Hopefully, he doesn't let emotion cloud his judgment.
2007-09-27 08:55:20
34.   C2Coke
14 You da man! Thanks a lot!
2007-09-27 08:56:26
35.   NJYankee41
24 I feel guilty for not thinking of Bernie more often this year. And I have to admit that he didn't even cross my mind last night either. I guess its because all of the young player have grabbed my attention, but when I do think of Bernie it makes for good memories.
2007-09-27 09:03:05
36.   Schteeve
25 I have a theory about Kim Jones and Jeter.
2007-09-27 09:03:57
37.   yankz
Jeter probably had a date with Scarlett Johansson or something.

"Later on, a playful A-Rod begged Jeter -- by now dried and dressed -- for "one last hug" in the champagne-soaked room.

As Jeter protested, A-Rod lifted him into the air." - Pete Caldera

2007-09-27 09:03:57
38.   thelarmis
31 and hopefully molina is back as the BUC
2007-09-27 09:04:54
39.   yankz
36 He probably has, but when you have his kind of possibilities, you don't stick around.
2007-09-27 10:00:34
40.   cult of basebaal
may have just been the emotion of the moment talking, but this was a nice quote to see from a-rod:

"This feels like home. It's hard to believe that I played for another two organizations. So much has happened to me here, adversity, some success, that I feel like anything but New York feels weird for me now."

2007-09-27 10:24:19
41.   ny2ca2dc
40 Roger that, Arod hopefully the last holdouts will consider him a true yankee now.
2007-09-27 10:27:38
42.   weeping for brunnhilde
25 Oh, I loved when Kim said that!

Cracked me up.

Besides which, it's the truth.

I like the little rapport the two of them have.

Earlier in the season when Derek was hit by a pitch, Kim asked whether it hurt.

Derek responded with a hint of petulance something like, "Well, Kim why don't you go stand over there and I'll throw the ball at you...of course it hurt, but it doesn't matter."

Those two should be boyfriend/girlfriend.

2007-09-27 10:31:26
43.   weeping for brunnhilde
36 Well...?

Don't leave us on tenterhooks, Miss Scarlett!

2007-09-27 10:38:49
44.   weeping for brunnhilde
10 And yes, Sliced, E-Span does indeed rock.
2007-09-27 10:39:26
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
40 Beautiful.
2007-09-27 11:28:27
46.   Bama Yankee
14 Thanks for taking the time to post those clips, pistolpete.
2007-09-27 11:42:00
47.   weeping for brunnhilde
46 Indeed, Bama. Thanks, pete!
2007-09-27 12:20:14
48.   Schteeve
36 I think they are secretly married.
2007-09-27 16:12:26
49.   weeping for brunnhilde
48 :)

Maybe they got married in Gibraltar near Spain.

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