NEW YORK -- After all he had accomplished -- four World Series titles, 12 consecutive years in the playoffs, almost certain entry into the Hall of Fame -- and after all the indignities, this was one Joe Torre wasn't going to stand for.
He wasn't going to take a pay cut from the New York Yankees, no matter that he still would have been the highest-paid manager in baseball, and he certainly wasn't going to prove himself all over again.
Torre walked away Thursday, turning down a $5 million, one-year contract -- $2.5 million less than he made this season, when the Yankees failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
"A difficult day," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He will always be a Yankee."
Bench coach Don Mattingly is the leading contender to replace Torre. Yankees broadcaster Joe Girardi, the NL Manager of the Year with Florida in 2006, is another top contender. Tony La Russa and Bobby Valentine also could be considered.
Most Yankees fans could see this day coming.
After losing the first two playoff games to Cleveland, owner George Steinbrenner said he didn't think Torre would be asked back if the Yankees didn't advance. New York hasn't won it all since 2000.
Torre took a morning flight to Tampa, Fla., to meet for an hour with Steinbrenner, his sons and team management. Torre listened to the offer and said it wasn't acceptable. They shook hands and Torre headed home.
Torre declined to speak to a group of reporters gathered outside his house in suburban Harrison. His wife, Ali, arrived a few minutes later and said their time in New York had been fun.
"It's always difficult to say goodbye," she said, "but there's always hello."
Torre, 67, who made the playoffs in every year with the Yankees, scheduled a news conference for today. He indicated last week that he might be interested in managing elsewhere.
New York's offer included $3 million in bonuses if the Yankees reached next year's World Series and an $8 million option for 2009 that would have become guaranteed if New York won the AL pennant.
It appeared to be an offer designed to be rejected. Scott Boras, the agent for Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, said players would have interpreted an acceptance by Torre as weakness.
"It is difficult, near impossible, to accept a salary cut," Boras said. "Successful people can afford their principles. They understand if they accept the position, there is a great risk the message to all under him is dissatisfaction."
WHO INVITED HER? -- The Indians might have inadvertently created a new art form for trying to get inside the opponent's head. The pre-game anthem singer for Game 5 of the ALCS on Thursday was Danielle Peck, a country singer who once dated Boston starting pitcher Josh Beckett. Indians spokesman Bob DiBiasio called it "an incredible coincidence. Honestly. She's from Ohio. Her entire family are Indians fans. We did not know anything about her connections to Beckett. The next day, we find out the rest of the story. How are we supposed to know who Josh Beckett dates?"