The Dodgers and Yankees both sit at 4-4 a few games behind their respective division leaders. Despite the 3000 miles separating New York from Los Angeles, though, these teams this year will be linked by Joe Torre.
Today, Rick A., a new contributor at My Baseball Bias, waxes nostalgically about Joe Torre. With the Yankees seemingly struggling at 4-4 in the early goes, Rick wonders, “In hindsight, was it a bad move to essentially get rid of Torre?” He equivocates on the answer and ends by reaffirming something upon which all Yankees agree: We will always look back fondly on the Joe Torre Era.
I’d like to take a short stab though at answering the question posed by Rick. I think the answer is a resounding no. To me, Joe Torre and the Yankees will forever be linked. He was named the manager of the team before my 13th birthday and served in his role until I was 24. I doubt any Yankee manager will last as long as Torre did during my lifetime, and my high school years are filled with memories of the Yankees winning the World Series year after year.
Then, for me, along came college and with it, Joe Torre’s magic touch disappeared. I watched the Yankees lose two World Series, lose one divisional series in four games and lose historically to the Red Sox in 2004. It was, in fact, after that momentous ALCS that I believe Torre and the Yanks should have parted company.
Hindsight aside, during those last four games, we saw the Yankees outmaneuvered and out-managed. Torre showed his proclivity for his guys when he went with Bernie Williams over Kenny Lofton even in obvious situations. He showed his tendencies toward bullpen abuse. He showed a lack of creative strategy when he didn’t steal off of the Wakefield-Varitek battery or bunt off of Curt Schilling.
But the Yanks let Joe linger, and the last three seasons for Torre seemed more like a battle than anything prior had. It wouldn’t have been a kneejerk reaction to dismiss Torre in 2004, and it wasn’t a bad move to let him go in 2007.
So far, I have no qualms with Joe Girardi. I think he’s done a great job of managing the bullpen through the first eight games, and the players seem to respect him as they did Torre. He might not deliver four World Series championship in his first five seasons as manager, but who can? I’ll miss Torre for what he represented; I don’t miss him for his managing quite yet.