Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, there has been no change in the status of Joe Torre as Yankee manager today, but before I finally say what I have to say about that, I have some belated good news to relay. In case you missed it, Jimmy Kimmel has been banned from the Monday Night Football booth because of his conduct this week. I say belated, because we all would have been better off had ESPN banned him from the booth before he came on the air and acted like a jackass, and not after the fact.

I hate to be the one to break this to America, but Jimmy Kimmel isn't funny. He had a few moments on the Man Show, but the strength of that show was that little fat kid who was such a d bag. Unfortunately for Kimmel, kids can get away with that sort of behavior and old people can get away with it, but not average, every day people, they just end up looking like douches.

I don't know who told him it was a good idea to go on MNF and crack jokes about Joe Theisman, but he probably shouldn't have listened. First off, Theisman had the good grace to retire quietly and not cause a scene to remind every fan that, as bad as Theisman was, he was 1,000,000 times better than Tony Kornheiser. Second, it gave ESPN a convenient pretext for banning him when the real reason the World Wide Leader is upset at Kimmel has nothing to do with Theisman. The network is in a dither because Kimmel kept making mocking references to the size of the crowd and the theoretical size of the viewing audience for a game that wasn't tremedously compelling.

I suppose I shouldn't complain about the underlying hypocrisy, as it did punish Kimmel for a 15 minute appearance that felt like five years. He was dreadful. His timing was off, he had nothing worth saying and he acted like a little kid talking trash to someone who can't respond. Perhaps he is lashing out and feeling inadequate because Sarah Silverman is dazzling the world with the success of her dreadful show on Comedy Central, but his behavior was still uncalled for and will not be missed. I'm sure Comedy Central is lining up more bottom rung celebrities for roasts, so he won't have to waste his A material on small cable audiences for disappointing football games.

But back to Joe Torre. This extended seminar on his future in Tampa worries me. I want him fired. I must admit that I am not a Yankee fan, so I have no sentimental attachment to Torre from the championship years. I just want the Yankees to win as many games as possible because every good thing for the Bron Bombers is a bad thing for Red Sox Nation.

Torre has been in his current capacity for 12 years. That's a long time for any one to stay anywhere, especially in professional sports where constant change is the only constant. He has done some great things, never missing the playoffs and winning 6 pennants and 4 championships, but the Yankees haven't escaped from the first round of the playoffs since John Kerry liked what he saw in his polling numbers. That's ancient history in professional sports. By the way, I say escape the first round, because teams like the Yankees don't aspire to advance, they leave that to lesser mortals with 8 digit payrolls.

Since the Yankees last won the World Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins, Whatever We Feel Like Calling Ourselves Today Angels and some other disgraceful blight on the landscape team have all walked away with the trophy and beaten the Yanks while doing it. That's not exactly a who's who of baseball tradition there. Things have gotten stale in the Bronx.

It's gone from the Bronx Zoo to the damn Museum of Natural History before our eyes. Jeter, Rivera, Posada and even guys like Matsui have a lot more mileage on them than one would think based simply on their ages because of the number of playoff games they've played. It's more than an additional regular season because of the stress involved. Every at bat, every pitch, every ground ball is magnified because it could mean victory or elimination. It has to take a toll.

So the question then becomes: who replaces Torre? It's not an easy question because of all the factors involved. First, there's the fact that he's been there so long. Then there's the fact that it's the single most visible coaching job in pro sports. Then there's the fact that New York is full of savage and ignorant people. And on top of everything, there are 2 former managers with half decent resumes currently employed as coaches (Tony Pena and Larry Bowa). It's anybody's guess who takes the reins now should Torre get the gate.

I'm just guessing, but Bowa and Pena are probably out of the running. Bowa didn't do enough in Philly to make any one forget that his team turned on him as though he were Cpatain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty. Pena brought Kansas City as much success as it's had since George Brett and Saberhagen were there, but that's not good enough to appease New Yorkers or the media.

Don Mattingly is an intriguing candidate, but he has no credentials which would indicate that he can manage a professional baseball team. If I need a guy to play his heart out on an underachieving team, hit .340 with 20 HR and 100 RBI and it's 1987, Don Mattingly is definitely at the top of my list, but I'm not sure Donny Baseball is ready for this job.

Ron Guidry hasn't shown me enough as Yankee pitching coach to tell me he warrants a shot at managing in New York. Perhaps he may have been hamstrung by Torre's desire to see how many consecutive homers a rookie pitcher can allow in a national TV game before his confidence is irrevocably shattered, but I'm not sure Louisiana Lightning doesn't need to manage a second-tier team before he's ready for prime time.

There are a lot of candidates outside the organization who might be considered. There's always Lou Pinella, who might have to flee Chicago before Jay Mariotti runs him out of town as though he were Marshall Dillon from Gunsmoke. Or more likely before Mariotti challenges him to a fistfight, then threatens to sue when Pinella shows that even at age 68 he's more than up to kicking Mariotti's ass. Then again, if Mark Cuban buys the Cubs, perhaps Sweet Lou will want out of dodge before the Cubs become more of a national joke.

There are ex-managers hanging around all manner of broadcast booths who might be considered. Thankfully, the Reds snatched up Dusty Baker. I'm sure Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain must be thanking all sorts of divine beings that Baker and his determination to pitch every prospect he can get his hands on as though they could handle a workload to tire Cy Young and Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown to death won't be on the Yankees radar this offseason.

There's always Bob Brenley, and Brenley does have a ring. But is it just me, or does it seem like his Diamondbacks won the series a million years ago? Perhaps it's because the team was blown up and rebuilt to the point where none of his players was on this team that just lost the NLCS. And if the Yankees bring him in how will Cubs fans know what the wind is doing at each and every stadium during each and every inning?

I think that if Torre goes, and they can get him away from the booth, the logical choice as successor is Joe Girardi. He nearly won the NL wildcard in Florida last season before he was released from his contract due to a conflict with team owner Jeffery Laurie. He has a Yankee pedigree as a backup on the team that won it all in 1996 and bench coach for the team that lost it all in 2003. And God knows, he isn't a very good broadcaster. It could be win-win, if he does well managing and I don't have to see him calling games next summer.

And before I go, I just want to ask who at FOX sat down and said "I know what let's do. Let's get Jeanne Zelasko, Kevin Kennedy, Eric Karros and Joe Girardi and have them host a pregame show." It looks more and more like a very fortunate turn of events that the FOX NFL Sunday crew work well, know the game and entertain an audience. Karros has no business on TV, he's dreadful. And the four of them sit there and look like they don't want to spend a nanosecond longer than necessary together and have no desire to talk to one another. Now, if the job didn't seem to call for friendly banter, then they might have something there. Too bad for us a little chemistry goes a long way in a gig like that. Thanks FOX.

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