Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fire Torre at your own risk

A quick note that's partially about the Yankees but just as much about media relations in New York. If the Yankees fire Joe Torre, they'd better replace him with someone who's as much a PR director as a baseball manager.

That was former GM Bob Watson's genius 12 years ago. While everyone else was saying "Joe Loser," Watson identified that he needed someone who could handle the press (and George Steinbrenner) as well as he could write out a batting order. When he wasn't managing bad baseball teams, Torre was a very poised broadcaster. He knew the game, but better still he knew how to talk it.

That's why he was a perfect fit for the Yankees. That job, more than any coaching job in New York, is about representing the team to the fans via the media. Torre is a genius at this. I've written it before: his weekly stints with "Mike & the Mad Dog" are a master's class at handling interviews. I prescribe them to Ted Nolan a couple of times a year.

Should the Yankees feel the need to replace Torre, they'd better learn from Watson's wisdom. A lot of fans and commentators - including Yankees TV play-by-play man Michael Kay, who you'd think would understand this - seem to believe they'll be better off without him. I agree that when it comes to strategy, Torre is average at best. I also understand Torre can't do this forever.

But the first time things get rocky and the new manager says the wrong thing in the post-game presser and all heck breaks loose, they'll realize what they had in Joe Torre.

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