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The Bronx is burnt: Is Torre now toast?

The Bronx is burnt: Is Torre now toast?
NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Torre sat quietly in his favorite spot on the bench, stomach churning, eyes fixed low under that navy blue New York Yankees cap.

He’s probably headed to the Hall of Fame, Monument Park, every baseball pantheon there is.

Today, though, Torre might be a man without a job.

After 12 playoff appearances in 12 seasons, Torre may have managed his final game for the Yankees when they were knocked out of the playoffs in a 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

“The 12 years just felt like they were 10 minutes long, to be honest with you,” Torre said afterward.

Reverting to his blustering ways, demanding owner George Steinbrenner said he probably wouldn’t bring Torre back unless New York rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the best-of-five series.

“His job is on the line,” Steinbrenner was quoted in Sunday’s editions of The Record of New Jersey. “I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.”

The Yankees saved their season — and perhaps Torre’s job — by overcoming a three-run deficit Sunday to win Game 3.

They couldn’t do it again in Game 4, eliminated in the first round for the third straight year despite a $215 million payroll.

Now, it feels like the end of an era in New York.

“This has been a great 12 years, whatever the hell happens from here on out,” Torre said. “I’ll look back on these 12 years with great, great pleasure based on the fact I’m a kid who had never been to the World Series other than watching my brother play in the ’50s.

“To have been in six World Series and going to postseason, I can tell you one thing, it never gets old,” he added.

With Steinbrenner in attendance, a cheering crowd chanted “Joe Torre! Joe Torre!” as the manager went to the mound twice in the eighth inning.

New York’s three consecutive first-round exits from the playoffs followed an unprecedented collapse in the 2004 AL championship series against rival Boston.
Still, would dismissing Torre after such success be fair? Or even wise?

Debatable, certainly.

Why bother? High expectations come with the territory in the Bronx, and nobody knows that better than Torre, who led the Yankees to four World Series titles from 1996-2000 in his first five years as manager.

After Steinbrenner’s comments were reported, Torre matter-of-factly said he was used to the scrutiny. He said focusing on the game at hand was most important.

“He’s always been good at dealing with people. He keeps in mind the big picture and communicates it,” Derek Jeter said. “I know we’ve made it look easy, but it’s not easy to accomplish.”

The Yankees were the only first-round playoff loser that wasn’t swept. Think that’s any consolation to Steinbrenner?

Don’t bet on it.

“It’s not Joe’s fault,” Alex Rodriguez said. “We’ve got the most prepared coaching staff and the best manager in the game. It’s on us, the players.”

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