The Yankees’ failure to reach the World Series for the fourth straight season means that there will be significant changes in the Bronx next year. Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi is interviewing for various managerial positions and is sure to land one. Mel Stottlemyre, Joe Torre’s pitching coach for the last decade, resigned last week citing disgust with George Steinbrenner’s congratulatory statement to the Angels.
What raised eyebrows was the fact that in a media press release, “The Boss” not only congratulated the Anaheim players but also their manager, which Stottlemyre and others saw as a slap in the face to Torre. I did not see it that way, but what caught my attention was the fact that Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia was not addressed by name. One would assume that Steinbrenner knew who Scioscia was.
There have been rumors all season long around the Yankee Stadium press box that Steinbrenner’s health is far from robust and that he is not as sharp as he once was. I can’t remember the last time he addressed the media directly and not merely through his spokesman, PR legend Howard Rubenstein. Rubenstein is a wizard at what he does but he is not a baseball maven, which leads me to believe that he, not Steinbrenner, crafted the controversial statement.
If Steinbrenner is really just a figurehead these days, then the Yankee empire is facing a civil war between its New York office, which is run by Randy Levine and Lonn Trost and its Tampa operations, which are headed by Steinbrenner’s son-in-law Steve Swindal and general manager-in-waiting Damon Oppenheimer.
Look for both general manager Brian Cashman and manager Torre to jump ship if Steinbrenner is not really running things. While Steinbrenner has taken potshots at both in the past to get a headline on the backpages of the tabloids, there has always been underlying respect between those three individuals. Cashman is not held in high esteem by the Swindal faction nor is he deemed indispensable by Levine and Trost. Torre has 2 years and $13 million left on his contract but he is tired of the in-fighting and would be amenable to a buyout offer.
No one was more upset at the Yankees loss to the Angels than Fox Sports President David Hill. The Yankees always generate high Nielsen ratings and the fact that they would be playing the Chicago White Sox, a team which has not won a World Series since 1917 and who play in the nation’s third biggest television market, for the American League pennant would have been a bonanza for Fox. Yes, the Angels play in very populated Southern California but they do not have anywhere the fan base which the nearby Dodgers have. Think of the Knicks versus the Nets.
Congratulations to new Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who at age 28 has become the youngest person to ever achieve that position in the majors. Daniels grew up in Fresh Meadows and attended PS 26, Hunter College High School and graduated from Cornell University. Coincidentally, another Queens favorite son, Mets GM Omar Minaya, got his start with the Rangers as well. He was its director of scouting from 1990-1995.
The struggles of Christ the King alum Omar Cook to gain employment in the National Basketball Association continue. Three years ago Omar left St. John’s after his freshman year with dreams of becoming a first-round draft choice. That did not happen. He was released by the Chicago Bulls last week.