MIAMI -- "It doesn't bother me," New York Yankees manager Buck Showalter said when asked about George Steinbrenner's possible reinstatement as Boss. "Why would that bother me?"
Oh, Buck. Buck. Buckbuckbuckbuckbuck.
"Why would that bother me?"
That's what the Romans said at the report of approaching Huns.
That's what the buffalo said when William Cody rode out onto the plains for a look-see.
That's what the buggy manufacturers said when the first primitive automobile chugged by.
That's what the silent screen star with the lisp said when he heard about talkies.
On page 3 of the Yankees media guide is a list of all-time Yankees managers. The average tenure during Mindbender's reign must be measured in months, not years. Insects have longer life spans.
Be afraid, Buck. Be very afraid.
Showalter isn't stupid or naive. This is his 16th year in the Yankees organization, so he knows well the perils of Life with George. He's also aware that a consensus believes Steinbrenner's eventual reinstatement is all but certain. (With his son-in-law nominally in charge of the Yankees now, is he really away?) Therefore, throwing up when asked about it wouldn't be prudent on the Buckster's part.
But Yankees fans, including me, are under no such constraint. We are hurling at the thought of Steinbrenner unleashed and the Bronx Zoo revisited -- the suicidal impatience, maddening meddling, grossly unfair second-guessing and weaselly, gutless blame shifting.
We shudder at the prospect of a return to the managerial merry-go-round, the Columbus shuttle, the rape of the farm system in a never-ending search for the quick fix, the turmoil, the divisiveness, the instability, the insecurity, the insanity.
Once the Yankees symbolized tradition and class, not only in baseball but in all of sports. Once players aspired to wear the pinstripes. Steinbrenner managed to turn the team into a laughingstock, one players have actively tried to avoid.
Steinbrenner is an opinionated ignoramus, a devastatingly destructive combination. I've often wondered what Steinbrenner the shipbuilder would say if shown the resume of a CEO with the same bizarre track record of hiring and firing key personnel he compiled with the Yankees. He'd probably say that CEO was incompetent, a joke, and he'd be right.
The Hartford (Conn.) Courant recently polled its readers on their feelings about Steinbrenner's return. Ninety-three percent were against it. I wonder what that other 7 percent were thinking.
The Yankees are young and doing better than anyone expected; their farm system is loaded with terrific young arms. If they're allowed to mature, if the patience shown in the two years since The Boss cleverly plea bargained himself into a lifetime ban was to continue, the future looks bright.
If Steinbrenner comes back, no chance. Be afraid, Yankees fans. Be very afraid.