If anyone in Major League Baseball seemed to stand in stark contradiction to the corporate fat cat owners, and their armies of accountants and attorneys, it was always Joe Torre. Yup, good ole Joe who, despite the fact that he’s a millionaire many times over, possessed what can best be described as that ‘common touch’ we in America love so much. While the standard M.O. of the Steinbrenners and others of their gizzillionaire ilk is to operate on the profit uber alles mentality, Joe appeared to stand for principles, for leadership, and above all for loyalty.
Yet to many, including not only baseball fans, but sportscasters and even players, Torre’s previous populist persona has been besmirched by the revelations he recently made in his new book. True, and while the entire bio isn’t all that kiss and tell, Torre does take a good number of swipes at not only the Yankee management, but at some players as well. Probably everyone can either agree with, or at least understand, Torre’s taking on management. They, after all, have almost made a fetish out of screwing the fans with their absurd prices, corporate suites and general arrogance.
If you recall, Torre was, after an exceptional 11-season career at the Yankee helm, for all practical purposes, fired. The Yankee organization is nothing if not very slick, so what they did was to deliberately offer him an insulting renewal contract. Not only was his salary cut, but he was offered financial incentives only if the team did well. As if he were some salesman…working on commission. And they knew damned well that he would reject their offer. So, they got rid of Torre without appearing as if they actually fired him.
Everyone understood that Torre would, sooner or later, want to express his bitterness at being cast off by the Front Office. And no one would ever have begrudged him that indulgence. The fact is, though, that Torre went way beyond critisizing the Yankee organization. Instead, he violated his own oft-proclaimed principles of loyalty, discretion and always honoring a confidence, by taking cheap shots at the very players he frequently described (with pride and a tear or two) as his ‘family’. Hey, gossipping about A-Rod has proven to sell some more books.
Yet, if we think about it, neither Torre nor the Yankee organization are no better or worse than anyone else. Once we work for any entity, any company, any team or whatever, we’ve entered into a symbiotic relationship. And that frankly means that we, both workers and management, no matter our rank or level, agree to use each other to the max. While we still like to think that our corporate loyalty will be reciprocated, the real question will always be ‘what have you done for me lately?’ And in this sense, Torre and the Yankee Front Office really share a less than admirable selfishness.
‘Bye, Joe. You were a great icon, while you lasted. Now you’re just another example of corporate Darwinism.