- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Yogi Berra did not set foot inside Yankee Stadium for 14 years because of how George Steinbrenner fired him in 1985. Eventually, the words of his grandchildren -- many of whom had never been inside Yankee Stadium with him -- and an arrangement with the Yankees that helped the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey, led to a reconciliation between the Hall of Famer and the team. And Berra was in the Yankees' clubhouse last Saturday, as he is on a lot of days, chatting with Chad Gaudin and other players.
Joe Torre's relationship with the Yankees also ended in an ugly fashion, with Torre reacting angrily to the team's suggestion that he take a pay cut. But unless Torre picks up the phone and calls Hal Steinbrenner directly and asks for a reconciliation -- without any financial strings attached -- it seems very unlikely that there will be the same kind of happy ending as there has been for Yogi.
It was apparent in Torre's book that he remains upset because of those last hours with the team. But whatever he feels, the anger within the Yankees' organization toward Torre goes far deeper than he knows; in the eyes of many, he will never be viewed the same way, and never be fully forgiven.
As the Yankees' manager, Torre spoke at the beginning of each spring training to the players about keeping their disputes in-house, about respecting one another even where there were differences. He sometimes chastised reporters when he felt that probing questions went too far and were too salacious for his sensibilities. Folks within the organization didn't always agree with Torre's managerial decisions -- no team has a complete consensus -- but they always felt that he kept his dignity.
So when Torre took aim at others in his book, selling memories of in-house disagreements that he had always talked about hiding from public view, the collective opinion of him changed forever within the Yankees' organization. They found his portrayal of particular events to be fiction. They thought he unnecessarily demonized the Steinbrenner sons. They were stunned by how he torpedoed general manager Brian Cashman, who had shielded him through the years from the wrath of George Steinbrenner and been his strongest advocate. And they were appalled by what they viewed as cheap shots at the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano; in Pavano's case, Torre was in a unique position to know that all of his injuries were legitimate. In short, they came to view him as a hypocrite.
Torre has sometimes hid behind his co-author on the book, Tom Verducci, saying that Verducci learned a lot of the details contained within the book. But the people he left behind in the Bronx will never accept that excuse; Torre's name is on the cover, and it was his choice whether to include the passages that painted A-Rod, Pavano, Cashman and others in a negative light.
His leadership during the dynasty of 1996-2001 will always be regarded as crucial, and whenever Torre is handed his Hall of Fame plaque, it will bear the cap of the team with which he has had the most success during his long career, the Yankees. But the feelings about him from those he left behind will never be the same as they once were.
When Berra left the Yankees' organization in 1985, his rift was with George Steinbrenner, and Steinbrenner alone. For Torre, the anger and fury goes far beyond just one person, which will complicate any attempt at reconciliation. Even if one of the Steinbrenner sons and daughters ever thought about reaching out to Torre -- and to this point, there is no sign of that happening -- they would also know that those around them would not want to have anything to do with Torre if he came back, and they would probably refuse to welcome him back, or shake his hand.
Torre has mixed feelings about the Yankees, writes Dylan Hernandez. For many within the Yankees' organization, there is no such uncertainty. Torre is sorry that Alex Rodriguez is still mad at him. The core four spoke highly of Torre, writes Pete Caldera. Torre is the greatest manager the Yankees have ever had, writes Mike Lupica.
Don't buy the propaganda about the ugly divorce, writes Mike Vaccaro, who says Torre's departure shouldn't obscure what he accomplished with the team.
It's time for the Yankees-Torre cold war to end, writes Bob Klapisch.
• The Dodgers stopped their losing streak.
Around the league
• Bobby Cox had strong words about Jeffrey Loria after the firing of Fredi Gonzalez.
• There are only 36 days remaining before the trade deadline, and the Braves appear to be in an excellent position -- they have no glaring needs and are one of the few teams that aren't scrambling for pitching, given that the return of Jair Jurrjens is now imminent. Matt Diaz will be back soon, and in the weeks thereafter, the Braves will determine what kind of role the surprising Eric Hinske will play down the stretch. Hinske was brought in primarily to be a weapon off the bench for Bobby Cox, and if Hinske figures to play at least semi-regularly, the Braves will probably look for another hitter to come off the bench.
• By the way: The Braves are well aware that if they hire Fredi Gonzalez in a support role during the season, they'd set up an expectation that Gonzalez is the heir apparent to Cox without having gone through the process of exploring their managerial options. So there would seem to be a good chance that the Braves won't hire Gonzalez during the season.
• The Blue Jays are said by sources to be among the teams doing some early reconnaissance on the managerial field.
• And the hits just keep on coming for the Orioles: Rival evaluators say that the fastball velocity of the organization's crown-jewel pitcher, Brian Matusz, is down 2 to 3 mph from where it was in spring training. "He looks completely beaten down," one evaluator said.
The Orioles had a nice win against the Marlins on Thursday.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Reds don't have a glaring need, and they don't have a lot of money to spend, writes John Fay.
4. The Indians added a second baseman and a pitcher.
5. The Pirates promoted a pitching prospect to Triple-A.
7. Bobby Valentine will get a four-year offer today.
9. The Padres need to get another bat, writes Bill Center.
10. The A's may not be as active on the trade market as in recent seasons, writes Susan Slusser.
Dings and dents
The cold, hard numbers on Papelbon: In 2007, his ratio of strikeouts per nine innings was 12.96; this year, it's 7.67. Opponents in 2007 had an OPS of .463 against Papelbon; this year, .736. Scouts say he doesn't throw as hard or throw his split-fingered fastball as much as he used to. But in the grand scheme of things, it still is the best thing for the Red Sox to leave him at closer and Daniel Bard as the setup man. Until next year.
3. Brandon Morrow's overall numbers don't really show how well he has thrown at times, and he shut down the Cardinals on Thursday. Why Morrow beat the Cardinals, from John Fisher of ESPN Stats & Information: He battled. Morrow had 2-0, 2-1 or 3-ball counts to 12 batters and retired 10 of them (83 percent; MLB average: 54 percent). He had relatively good control. Morrow only went to 3-ball counts on three of his 29 batters faced (10 percent; MLB average: 19 percent). He used his slider and curve. The Cards combined to go 1-9 against Morrow's top two pitches. For the season, opposing hitters are 19-103 (.184) against the slider and curve combined. This was his fifth straight quality start. He threw his most pitches and most strikes of season (112, 71).
4. Yovani Gallardo was The Man for the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt writes. I watched a lot of this game, and Gallardo got a standing ovation when he came up for his last at-bat. The Brewers' pitching is in much, much better condition than it was six weeks ago. Why Gallardo was so dominant: He threw 80 percent strikes when behind in the count (most in a start since April 24, 2009), which meant he wasn't behind for long. He did well, again, when he was ahead in the count -- hitters went 1-for-18 (.056) when he was ahead in the count (.168 entering Thursday). He threw 66.4 percent fastballs, his most in a start since Aug. 14, 2009. He threw 65.6 percent fastballs with 2 strikes (51.3 percent entering Thursday). He got nine strikeouts with his fastball (most in his career).
8. The Indians may have hit rock bottom, or maybe not, writes Paul Hoynes, as they got hammered in Philly.
12. The Pirates had their guts ripped out, Dejan Kovacevic writes.
13. The Braves got swept by a freight train known as the White Sox.
15. Joe Maddon did something very sly, and got tossed, John Romano writes.
16. Jason Castro hit a home run for the first time.
17. The Mariners' winning streak came to an end, Mason Kelley writes.
18. The Giants are about to start a really tough stretch of games, John Shea writes.
19. The Rockies just missed a sweep.
The Patience Index
• The Royals and Cardinals just aren't rivals, writes Sam Mellinger.
<!--• Tonight will see the meeting of a couple of young sluggers who are both competing for Rookie of the Year awards.-->
• The Nationals have a slugging trio, writes Jorge Castillo.
• The Upton brothers will go head to head.
• The D-backs are retiring Luis Gonzalez's number.
• The son of the Astros' manager was charged with assault.
• Larry Stone has the story of some foul-ball follies.
And today will be better than yesterday.
There will surely be some awkwardness when Joe Torre faces the Yankees. That's because Torre has left a trail of tattered relationships within the Yankees organization. It's just not the same.