The timeframe for thawing in Yankee family cold wars is getting faster.
It took Jim Bouton 28 years and the untimely death of a daughter to make it back to the team's good graces after he ran afoul of the team for writing "Ball Four."
Yogi Berra spent 14 years away from the Bronx in protest of the way George Steinbrenner treated him as manager and it seemed like the contentious end of the Joe Torre era would bring about another lengthy split.
The times they are a-changing. Torre, starting his first season out of uniform since taking the Yankee job in 1996, will return to the Bronx and slip on the familiar number 6 for an appearance at Old-Timer's Day this summer. And so ends once and for all a fairly ugly chapter in Yankee history.
Torre's end came after he reacted badly to a contract offer that featured incentives for playoff success and the Yankees dishonored his service to the team by leaving him completely out of the celebrations that marked the close of one stadium and opening of the new one. Torre wrote some nasty stuff about the team in "The Yankee Years" and last year's trip to Dodger Stadium featured a lot of talk about how little goodwill there was between the team and the former manager.
But when George Steinbrenner died, Torre was part of the unveiling of a monument to him at Yankee Stadium last year. That seemed to signal a change in feelings, one that was confirmed on Wednesday when Torre announced he'll be returning to the Bronx during the 2011 season.
"It does feel strange, but it feels good," Torre said. "That's water under the bridge, I guess. I never would have changed anything. You wish at the time I left that it could have ended differently, but I don't know if it could have. I don't know if either one of us knew how to say goodbye at that point in time."
That's certainly true and it's easy to understand the feelings on each side. Endings are never easy, as Bernie Williams would surely agree, and no one can really be blamed for airing some grievances after such a painful divorce. These things can linger needlessly, so it's nice to see everyone agree to put their best foot forward now that Torre is in the league office.
The teams of the Torre era figure to be celebrated a lot in the years to come. Those celebrations would always feel incomplete without the manager there as part of the honors. Now we just need to work on getting Don Zimmer back to the Stadium.