Our old Joe

Four days of infamy
Nettles out of surgery

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.

Four days of infamy
Nettles out of surgery
  • yankeemonkey

    Who are these “Dogers”? Are they the team that masqueraded as the Yankees yesterday?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      I think they play in Los Angeles. Don’t be obnoxious about a typo :)

  • yankeemonkey

    Sorry. I couldn’t help myself :-)

  • LiveFromNewYork

    When Girardi was up yesterday barking at the umps, I was thrilled. Torre would have been napping. I do like his style and his management of the bullpen. Torre would have yanked Hawkins the other night and put Mo in regardless.

  • http://www.samiamsports.blogspot.com samiamsports

    very well written

  • Adam

    additionally, joe torre is giving playing time to juan pierre over matt kemp. enough said.

  • Count Zero

    Agreed…it was all pretty much downhill from a tactical standpoint once Zim left.

  • Tom

    Ben, you have great blog, but you’re spoiled my friend. I grew up watching the Yanks in the 80s. Take a look at the records, not too many playoffs there huh?

    Remember that Yankees were in the playoffs EVERY YEAR, even after Torre’s “magic touch disappeared”. They had bad starts and always pulled it together, for at least that.

    I’m not saying Torre should have stayed, but he deserves everyones respect.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      There’s no doubt in my mind that Torre deserves a lot of respect. He did a helluva job managing this team, and I know those late 80s and early 90s teams. My first real Yankee memories besides bits and pieces were of the Terrible Trio of Wade Taylor, Jeff Johnson and Scott Kaminiecki. I know the pain!

      But at the same time, at some point — and I think that point was 2004 — Torre stopped being the right man for the job. The job changed; he changed; and the circumstances just weren’t right anymore. It happens, and it shouldn’t take away what Torre was able to accomplish in New York. He’s a Hall of Fame manager either way, and he’ll go in with a Yankee hat on.

      • Adam

        let’s not forget that they yankees should have made the playoffs almost all of those years considering the talent on their roster and the front office’s willingness to make deals to improve flaws. the effect of a manager is clearly overstated in that joe was a great manager because of his great team, and not the other way around. remember, the very same joe torre that managed the yankees also had 894 wins and 1003 losses in his three stops prior to the boogie down.

  • http://mybaseballbias.com Jason M.

    Thanks for picking up the article Ben. I agree, Torre comes with a lot of nostalgic baggage and many are quick to rise in defense of the man. I was 20 when Torre took over the team and for the better part of five years it seemed as though he could do no wrong.

    I too tired of the man, but I think it had more to do with what I perceived as a complacent attitude that surrounded the team. New blood was needed on the field as well as off. When Joe turned down the Yankees offer, I was in full support of Girardi getting the job.

    When I think about the Torre era – I was saying to a friend the other day that it seems like ages since he managed the club – I’ll look back like you and say what a ride it was in late nineties. But I also agree that his ship may have stayed in the dock a bit too long after 2004.

  • http://mybaseballbias.com Jason M.

    And let me just add that I grew up in the eighties watching the Yankees just like Tom. Those were rough years. Images of Don Slaught behind the plate and Mel Hall roaming the outfield will forever be burned into my brain.

    • Dave P.

      And Cecilio Guante giving up a walkoff grand slam to Alan Trammel back in June of 1988. Those days were tough.

  • Dave P.

    Speaking of Mel Hall, I met him when I was stationed in Japan. He and Hensley Meulens played together for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Hall was a total ass but Bam-Bam was pretty cool.

  • http://knickerbockerchatter.blogspot.com/ Bruno