We interrupt the assorted bickerings and back stabbings, hug-ins and walk-offs, to bring you this brief message from major league baseball: the Yankees won the World Series tonight.
For a change, Reggie Jackson let his bat do the talking, and it screamed. Three times, he swung at the first pitch and three times he sent the ball over the fences, and each homer was hit harder than the one before.
Jackson was the most valuable player by the sort of margin he covets - and with the sort of flair that makes him worth so much on the open market, although the proud arm of Mike Torrez also was important in the 8-4 victory over the Dodgers.
Even though they held a one-game lead, this sixth game was vital for the Yanks because they would be going either with relievers or the lightly rested Ron Guidry against the Dodger ace, Tommy John, in a seventh game.
All that became moot, however, by the time Jackson finished his second home-run trot of the night, the one after the lowest of line drivers just cleared the right-field wall and the Yanks jumped into a 7-3 lead.
Eventually, that allowed manager Billy Martin a touch of sentiment, leaving Torrez in when the Dodgers scored one run in the ninth. Torrez got the final out - and Jackson made hs toughest run of the night - dash from right field through celebrating Yankee fans and into the dugout.
For much for the year, owner George Steinbrenner and Martin have feuded - publicly and privately. So many players have asked to be traded that it was assumed the only way to establish harmony for a wonderfully talented team was to fire Martin. Today, the Yankees told Martin - and the world: we'll do it again next season.
At least that is what Yankee president Gabe Paul said at a hastily called press conference this afternoon, one in which he announced that Martin has been rewarded with a large bonus "in recognition of the fine job he has done." In response to a question about whether Martin would manage the Yanks next season, Paul said: "Of course he will.%
Of course, the unannounced bonus (possibly as much as $100,000 spread over two years, plus a $22,000 Lincoln Continental and a rent-free apartment) also could be a more expensive version of the familiar vote of confidence that usually precedes a dismissal in sports, something to inspire Martin through the World Series at a time he feels especially low.
With the Yankees, what they say at 2 p.m. and do at 6 p.m. often is radically different.
Of course, Paul just might be telling the truth, although the logic behing the timing of the announcement is at best curious.
Saturday, Paul had said he could not be definite on Martin's status. That would be determined after the Series, he said. Sunday, the Yanks lost Game 5 by six runs - and a few hours before the next game, the Yanks insisted Martin's performance has been "fine."
What the Yankees did not do is extend Martin's contract, which runs though 1979. His archenemy on the team, Reggie Jackson, has jokingly said Martin deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Today he got what amounts to combat pay, nothing more.
"When we win it all year and the next," Martin said, "I'll be in a better position to bargain. When I heard what they were going to do, I didn't need an extension, I think relations will be better than ever next year.
"We (he and Steinbrenner) have come to a complete understanding. I don't think I'll hear anything from George next year."
That was after the formalities were completed, after Paul read a prepared statement and Martin read a prepared statement that said, in part: "and, of course, my warm thanks to our players whose great performances have made all this possible." He kept a straight face.
For consistent chaos and rancor, there never has been a team quite like the '77 Yanks. They have taken a design originated by the Oakland A's to unimagined heights, although there are differences.
The A's were a relatively young team generally united against one man - owner Charles O. Finley - and obsessed with earning more money. Many of the Yanks literally have their millions - and still want out.
"Thurman Munson?" Martin repeated to a questioner. "I think time will take care of that" - Munson's desire to be traded to Cleveland. "He's a real Yankee, and a proud one. When all this is over, when he gets a chance to rest, he might feel differently."
Martin was informed of the Yankee largesse at a meeting in the stadium. After the formal press conference, he volunteered how he learned of the three firings that proceeded his becoming Yankee manager.
"I found out about Minnesota over the radio," he said. "I'd been duck hunting. The Detroit one? I'd heard rumors and called (general manager) Jim Campbell. He was in a meeting and put me on hold. Then he came on the line and said: "We've decided to let you go."
"In Texas, somebody came up to me with a rumor that I was gone, so I phoned (owner) Brad Corbett and asked him about it. He said, 'Yes, there's some truth to it,' but wanted to come down and talk about it, which he did.
"But I think (Frank) Lucchesi knew he was the new manager before I knew I was out." Corbett seems to be consistently devious, for Lucchesi said the same sort of thing happened during his exit this season.
What will he do with the money?
"Spend hell out of it."
Why a Lincoln?
"I'm not the Rolls type."
Steinbrenner was not at the press conference, Paul said, "because he's left all this in my hands. This is my decision. This is not a 'vote of confidence.' This is a culmination of what's happened this year. I think Billy's probably the happiest man in New York."