If the Yankees dismiss Torre, they'll be even easier to hate

October 09, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

What a strange baseball world we live in, when the Yankees can ponder major management changes after their 12th straight appearance in the playoffs, and the owner of the Orioles is convinced that he is making all the right moves after nine straight losing seasons.

Well, at least our ticket prices are lower.

The first whispers in the aftermath of the Detroit Tigers' uplifting American League Division Series victory over the Yankees on Saturday night were about Lou Piniella, a favorite of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner who has been recharging his batteries after a frustrating attempt to inject life into the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Never mind that the Yankees have reached the playoffs in every season that Joe Torre has managed the team and finished in first place in the American League East in 10 of his 11 seasons. He'll soon be headed to the Hall of Fame based on his performance over the past decade or so, but a fifth Yankees World Series title has eluded him too long.

It's one of those strange dichotomies of sports that I can love Torre and hate the Yankees, but that's going to get a lot easier soon.

$200 million bust

I realize it's petty to revel in the postseason downfall of the Yankees, especially since baseball fans around here would kill for the chance to lose a Division Series, but there's something about watching about $200 million worth of pinstriped players hanging their heads that brings a certain peace to the soul.

A-Rod: Come on down

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez didn't distinguish himself in the Division Series by going 1-for-14 with no RBIs, but don't misunderstand.

I'd take A-Rod in a minute, especially at the discounted salary the Yankees are paying after acquiring him from the Texas Rangers. He made a big mistake going to the Yankees, where he is diminished by the daily comparison to baseball's ultimate clutch player, Derek Jeter.

Is he available?

Induct O'Neil

If you didn't get a chance to read David Steele's column yesterday on the passing of Negro leagues great Buck O'Neil, go back and take a look. O'Neil, who overcame racial segregation in both baseball and life with love instead of bitterness, became the face of the Negro leagues era for a generation that didn't remember that part of our history or long chose to ignore it.

What a kind, gentle, dignified face it was, and I only wish O'Neil had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July with the final class of Negro leaguers. Hopefully, that injustice will be rectified soon.

Perfect memory

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, a feat made more impressive by the fact that no one has pitched even a plain old postseason no-hitter in the era of the three-tiered playoff system.

That game was one of baseball's great anomalies, because Larsen was only two years removed from a 3-21 performance for the Orioles in their debut season in Baltimore. He never won more than 11 games in a season and finished his career 10 games under .500 (81-91), but he was 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 World Series appearances.

Flaming passion

Eagles fans spared no expense expressing their revulsion for Terrell Owens before yesterday's 38-24 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field, setting fire to Eagles jerseys bearing Owens' name and number.

I considered firing up mine on the driveway in a symbolic show of solidarity, but realized it could become a valuable collector's item if everybody else incinerates theirs.

Invisible man

There was so much TV-driven hype attached to T.O.'s return to Philadelphia that there was little chance that anything Owens did would live up to it. The Eagles clearly were not going to let him get loose, and his frustration was evident on the sideline.

He did not catch a pass in the first half and did not affect the game, unless you count his impact on the defensive strategy of the Eagles.

Cruising on rep

Guess I shouldn't complain that my USC Trojans remain in the No. 2 position in the USA Today coaches poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press rankings, but I don't believe they should be any higher than fifth in either poll.

Unbeaten Florida (No. 2 in the AP poll), West Virginia and Michigan have played more impressively than USC, which has struggled to beat Washington State and Washington the past two weeks. But I'm guessing USC would eventually get back to No. 2 anyway, because the Trojans play most of their tough remaining opponents at home.

Headline humor

This week's funny headline comes from The Onion, the funny news site on the Web: Miguel Tejada Claims He's Never Heard of Jason Grimsley, Steroids, Orioles.peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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