Good day for a comparison between the last two people in New York Sports who have won four championships for their respective franchises with Joe Torre turning down an incentive laden contract with a pay cut yesterday.
Especially with Al Arbour briefly returning to coach the Islanders for a game against Pittsburgh in a few weeks.
In terms of class and dealing with players and people it's about as even as it gets between Arbour and Torre and the only real comparison that can be made between both of them and why it's a topic here today.
Of course Torre had it much tougher daily in baseball intensive NYC but back when Arbour was coaching and winning championships there was far more media pressure for hockey in New York City then there is today and baseball had an off-season. Before Al Arbour won a Stanley Cup in New York he got his share of abuse from the hockey media (especially Ranger media) for the teams failings and even John Pickett admitted after the cup win if a coaching change had to be made a few times.
Of course that is where any comparisons end.
Torre is very important to the enormous baseball media sports business in New York.
Win or lose those sports editors and writers want him in that managers office because he helps make their jobs easier selling themselves and their newspapers and in moments like this they do overlook the playoff record for a team that mostly plays a glorified 162 game preseason most years.
Don't think for a second the media's defense of him is not partly about losing a popular interview they work well with who helps them sell newspapers.
And let's not for one second pretend Joe Torre got smarter as a baseball manager in New York. He inherited some great prospects and the highest payroll in baseball history and took the field with a four to one advantage in payroll over many teams in this league. If Arbour had these things and someone like Bill Torrey still running things upstairs he might have coached another ten years and won a few more Stanley Cups too.
Of course if Steinbrenner had a Bill Torrey like president/gm who had full control Torre would still be manager today.
I don't want to give the idea I don't like Joe Torre because I do. I used to go to Met games when three thousand people were in the park and banners hung from the upper deck demanding his dismissal. He started winning when he got a financial advantage and that's why he won at least two championships.
Last few years Joe Torre had a two hundred million dollar payroll to slaughter the Devil Ray's, Blue Jays, Orioles, Texas and Kansas City Royals, that's why he made the playoffs most seasons where Arbour had no such luxury as coach during a regular season. Arbour in his second tenure came back and coached some terrible Islander teams that had no spending advantage.
Still the way both men conducted themselves with their players and the media are comparable.
That all written it's Al Arbour and it's not even close. The balance and working relationship between Al Arbour and Bill Torrey is unique and special like none in New York sports history and neither one had any ego.
It's something money cannot buy.