Joe Torre, Objectively Speaking

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network

When Joe Torre, former manager of the New York Yankees (as if you had to be told, right?) opted to walk away from the job, prestige, money, future and all else after George Steinbrenner made him an offer he could refuse, the skipper crafted himself as the victim. Really?

Every time the Bronx Bombers won the World Series was it really Torre that was responsible for the team's proficient hitting, fielding, pitching, running, catching, and its showing up with a "we are the Yankees and we do not come to lose" attitude? It is interesting that the media has portrayed Torre, as they do with others in similar positions elsewhere - e.g., Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Casey Stengel, Vince Lombardi, etc - as the reason(s) for the championships and not the players. Did they really make the moves that won games, or was it the athletes?

Joe Torre
Joe Torre managed the Yankees for 12 seasons and won four World Series titles.
If Joe Torre truly leaves the Yankees as "one of the most successful managers in team history," and is slated for a spot in the Hall of Fame one day, then whom do we hold accountable for post-season losses in seven consecutive years, the players? Wasn't it Torre and general manager Brian Cashman that started the season with a pitching staff of Little League caliber, for the most part, and continued to have tryouts during the first few months of "play for real?" Wasn't it Torre, during this season and the preceding ones, who clung to the old-school methods that once worked, while displaying a lack of imagination and aggressive attitude that the game necessitated in this era?

As I recall, it was also Torre, clinging to and clutching that black dugout bat of his, that refused to recognize that Alex Rodriguez was a playoff disaster and steadfastly refused to either sit him for a few games or, even more simply, move him in the batting order? Wasn't it Torre that blew a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox or was that the team? Wasn't it Torre that bested Cleveland 6-0 during the season and then let them shove him out the door like so much excess baggage on the playoff plane?

Objectively speaking, my recall is that it was Torre who was unflinching and resolute in keeping starting pitchers in while there was more blood on the mound than rosin...until the game was beyond saving. It was also the pinstripe power behind the players that bought into the outrageous concept that pitchers began to wilt once they had thrown 100 pitches and/or that there had to be a 7th, 8th, 9th inning pitcher and closer on the staff. What happened to bunting the guy on first to put him into scoring position when there were no outs, double steals, more hit-and-runs, creative guidance? Not in Torre's playbook.

The one-year contract he was offered should have been fine. The Yankees had invested millions and millions in the manager during his tenure at the helm, they provided him with the team he and Cashman hand-picked, and money was never the object. When Torre tossed Bernie Williams overboard - and could have used him in those first few months of the season - he did so without looking back and no recall of what Williams had done for the team over the years.

The "hefty pay cut" that was portrayed by Torre and the media was an illusion. If Torre was going to be able to replicate what he had done in years past, with emphasis on what "he had done," and still little, or no credit, to the players, he would have earned more in 2008 than he had this past season. And, there was no satisfaction of late with his performance. Twelve years with New York adds up to a lot of money but, again, the past seven did not have the results that the money was buying. Fact of life...objectively speaking.

No one else will pay Torre the kind of dollars he was earning and nowhere else will he experience the ambience, atmosphere, excitement, exposure and fan base that he has enjoyed at the Stadium. From this vantage point that is worth a ton of dinero...and more. Has everyone lost sight of the fact that his team did not make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a row? But, objectively speaking, it looks like the Dodgers are about to offer him close to the same atmosphere and money, while managing the Cubs in a great city like Chicago, with multiple appearances on Oprah, is not enough to lure him away from the glitz and glamour that Tommy Lasorda once absorbed like a sponge. The Mayflower van will be arriving at his home some time soon with "LA or bust" emblazoned on its tarpaulin-covered sides.

Joe Girardi
Expectations will be running high for Girardi, who will get three years to return the Yankees to the promised land.
Now the focus in the Big Apple is on Joe Girardi, who has accepted the position along with a three-year contract, an act that did not take a great deal of discussion with family, friends or agent. Torre burned the bridge, not Steinbrenner, his sons Hank and Al, son-in-law Felix Lopez, team president Randy Levine or Cashman. Don Mattingly leaves, since he does not get the job, and has a choice of waiting around until Torre makes a decision so he can join him, or sends his resume to the gaggle of teams that are in need of a new man at the helm. Tony Pena stays and Larry Bowa is fine as third base coach with that windmill motion of his encouraging all to run home regardless of where the ball might be at a given moment.

Alex Rodriguez, the most misguided player of the age, as well as one of the most talented, adheres to the Rasputin advice of his parasitic agent, the ever-greedy Scott Boras. They set sail in search of more money (why?) and a World Series ring, despite Rodriguez's very unproductive stint during recent playoffs and contributing little to garner that bit of jewelry. It is now a matter of which team does he leave next? And, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera would be equally foolish to consider any other options...all for the same reason(s) that I doubt have to be explained or spelled out to them. The Yankees have a great young nucleus of pitchers, have to unload the unproductive from the pitching staff and dugout and simply move forward with their combined youth/veteran aggregation that is in place, under the direction of a new manager.

All of that was overlooked by the overbearing and self-absorbed Boras who, it seems, is running against Drew Rosenhaus as the poster boy of what sports can, and should, live without.

Objectively speaking, Joe Torre did not produce for a great many years and his approach to the game had cobwebs on it to match the tattered and yellowed pages of his playbook. The game was passing him by and he never noticed. If he had, there would have been a few more World Series flags and plaques adorning Yankee Stadium right now.

Is there going to be a lot of pressure on the new guy? You gotta be kidding!

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