People of the Year — 3. Joe Torre

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After the Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs, new top dogs Hank and Hal Steinbrenner (sons of George) made the decision to offer Torre an “incentive-based salary package�—more wins, more bonuses. That’s a nice way of putting it. A 33 percent pay cut is another. Sure, Torre would have still been making a base of $2.5 mil, but as Journal News beat reporter (and author of the wildly popular LoHud Yankees Blog) Pete Abraham pointed out, “In the culture of the clubhouse, having a manager on a one-year contract who just took a cut would be emasculating.� In a press conference at the Hilton Rye Town, near his home in Harrison, Torre put it more bluntly: “I took [it] as an insult.� And so—after 12 seasons, 1,173 wins, and four World Series championships—Torre bolted.

Prediction for 2008: At press time, he had just agreed to manage the Dodgers. Say it ain’t so, Joe! We hope he’ll reconsider. After the Mets spectacular end-of-season collapse, we wouldn’t mind seeing him take over Willie Randolf’s job. What better way for us New Yorkers to keep the best mind in baseball all to ourselves?

Adapted from “People of the Year,� InTown Westchester, December 2007

(Nick Wass / AP Photo)