Nov
14

Root, root, root for their old team

By

When the Yanks won the World Series against the Phillies a mere 10 days ago, Yankee fans all over breathed a collective sigh of relief. The team had finally beaten down the ghosts of 2001, 2003 and 2004 and the lack of pitching depth in the years after.

In a sense, this year’s victory let Joe Torre off the hook for his lack of postseason success over his final years as a Yankee. Our lasting postseason images wouldn’t be Jeff Weaver pitching in Florida before Mariano Rivera, A-Rod‘s batting eighth in a playoff game or midges swarming Joba Chamberlain in Cleveland as Torre stood idly by. Rather, we can toast Hideki Matsui, A-Rod, CC, Andy Pettitte and, of course, Mo. We could feel confidence in Joe Girardi and look back fondly on the Joe Torre Era while recognizing that it probably had to end when it did, if not sooner.

The divorce, though, between Torre and the Yanks was an ugly one, and it followed a decade-long tradition of ugly divorces between the Yanks and their coaches. Don Zimmer had a public split with George Steinbrenner; Mel Stottlemyre continually felt undermined by the Yankee brass and left on bad terms. Torre and the Yanks engaged in public battle over their one-year offer following 2007, and no one felt too good about it.

But time — and World Series wins — heals all wounds. Speaking yesterday at the annual Safe at Home gala, both Torre and Zimmer revealed that they were rooting for the Yanks to beat the Phillies. Torre called it “surreal” to watch his Yankee friends playing in the Fall Classic. “To watch what they’ve done with Joe Girardi at the helm really made me feel good, even though I’m supposed to be a National League fan and all that stuff,” he said. “When you’re as close to these guys as I’ve been for all these years, I was just really pleased for them.”

Torre spoke at length about his trepidation at facing the Yankees. He and Derek Jeter have a tight bond, and it would have been weird, to say the least, to see Torre managing to get Jeter out. Still, the Yanks head to Los Angeles next June, and those games should make for compelling baseball.

Zimmer, who has known Joe Girardi since the Yanks’ manager was a rookie with the Cubs in 1989, was even more emotional in his support for the Yanks. “I was pulling so hard,” the Rays’ adviser said. “I spent the first 10 years he was in the big leagues, we were together. Joe’s quite a man and a very good friend of mine. I was happy for him and I was happy for the Yankees.”

In a way, now, the ball is in the Yankees’ court. The team should retire Joe Torre’s number 6, and they should have Zimmer — and all of the rest of the dynasty-era Yankees — at the ceremony. It sounds to me as though Torre is more than willing to thaw out this relationship, and it’s only a matter of time before the Yankees do too.

Categories : Front Office
  • whozat

    Do you really retire Torre’s number while he’s still in baseball, though? If they were retiring him for his work as a player, it’d make sense to do so even though he’s still managing somewhere, but…

    I figure they wait until he’s actually retired. Unless they want to do it before The Boss goes. Then I could see them pushing it up, depending on how bad he is.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      They’ll probably wait until after he retires from managing. What the hold-up with Bernie is though, I don’t know. That’s a topic for another day.

      As for the Boss, I think at this point, it doesn’t matter. He’s pretty much gone as far as I can tell.

      • http://www.progressamericana.com/ Pablo Zevallos

        I think the Yankees mandate a 5- or 10-year waiting period before retiring numbers IIRC.

        • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          They retired Mattingly immediately… They did it in ’97, but he didn’t officially retire until after the ’96 season, he left it open-ended and said his career wasn’t necessarily over after ’95.

  • YFan

    I think they would wait till A-Rod retires, (assuming he finishes his career as a Yankee) because of Torre’s book.

    • Jersey

      Good point.

      • steve (different one)

        i doubt this has anything to do with anything.

        • Jersey

          I’m not so sure. Maybe not specifically until ARod actually retires, but if there’s any hesitance from the club to retire his number, Torre’s book could definitely have something to do with it. The club has to figure the book would be a point of contention for media, fans; it wouldn’t surprise me if they wanted to put some more time between the book and any public ceremonial what-have-you to avoid that controversy.

  • DaveinMD

    The only hatchet I’d bury would be in Torre’s back. He needs to apologize for that crappy book and throwing anyone not part of the original core under the bus. Until then, screw him.

    • Stormrider6

      As a fellow Dave in Maryland, I feel the need to respond: Torre gave us a lot more in his Yankee years than he took away with that book. Sure, the book had some rotten things in it, but when the time comes, bygones will be bygones, just like with Yogi.

    • steve (different one)

      Dave, i think it would be healthier for you to stop holding back how you feel. tell us what you really think.

    • lastofthebreed

      AMEN

  • ADam

    Joe’s best quality is drumming up loads and loads of sympathy from the media.. He was so good at that… the man was offered the highest yearly paid managerial contract… turns it down… then goes on a “woe as me” media tour.. and the press ate it up. And that is exactly what he’s doing now.. if he was rooting for the yankees.. why didnt he come out and say so right after the phillies trounced him?

    I do believe that he should get his number retired and his due respect. But his managerial tenure needs to be broken up in two; the first Torre era 96-2003. As for the second Torre Era.. 04-07 he deserves all the flack… and not to much credit. His last 4 seasons were stale, he ruined countless RP’s careers, and managed for his image above his teams success….

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      why didnt he come out and say so right after the phillies trounced him?

      Even though I agree with some of what you say, this is sort of a ridiculous question. What do you want him to do? Issue a press release about his World Series rooting interests?

      • steve (different one)

        i’m sure he could accomplish the same thing just by mentioning it to Larry Bowa….

      • ADam

        It just seems a little disingenuous, Ben. I’m not saying he had to yell from the mountain tops… but why wait 10 days and when there is a ton of media around to announce he was rooting for the WS.

        I’m just done with the “good ol’ Joe from Brooklyn act”.. kinda tired of it..

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Disingenuous would be calling up the media after your team is eliminated to tell a reporter for which team you plan to root.

          The answer to your question — why he said it now — is simply and frankly an obvious one. He said it now because someone asked. It wasn’t an unsolicited comment. Otherwise, I’m sure he would have been quite content keeping it to himself.

          There are legitimate reasons to have a gripe with Torre. The book is certainly one of them. His answering a reporter’s question about the World Series isn’t.

          • BBFan

            Well, I wonder waht his answer would have been if Yanks did not win.

            Based on his book, to me he is a disingenuous guy. He cared only about his image and threw lot of guys under the bus including Cashman who saved his job at least for a couple of years before his leaving. He has no reason to share the cofidential discussions between a GM and Manager about players. That is not to take away the success from 1996-2000, they are two different things.

            • ADam

              Exactly… what would happen if the yanks lost.. what cookie cutter, canned answer would he have for that? It seems to me that the question, was prepared for him to answer, that way.

              • TheLastClown

                What leads you to believe he would’ve said anything different. He said it was ‘surreal’ because of the incredible run from 96-03.

                He probably genuinely has love for some of the guys, and he was an ass regarding others.

                The guy’s not the devil though. I’m no longer enamored of Torre, but I neither have any deep enmity for him.

                He probably would’ve said something very similar had the Yanks lost. I mean, this was still a very successful team, getting past the Angels which Torre found himself unable to do. He still could’ve felt a sense of pride and camaraderie toward Girardi and the ‘core four’ *yuck* (core 25-40 bitches!)

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    I hate Torre a little less now.

    ;)

  • vin

    disclaimer: I’m not aiming this at anyone in particular, just something I’ve observed…

    Seems to me that a lot of the most vociferous Torre-hate is coming from fans who don’t remember much from the ’96 or ’98 teams, let alone the misery that was the late 80s/early 90s.

    It’s easy to pick on the guy in charge when the great teams of your youth stopping winning championships.

    I’ll never be a spoiled Yankee fan because I started following baseball (and the Yanks) during a franchise low-point. I picked the Yanks to be my team even though 1) my dad bleeds Dodger blue, and 2) everyone my age in Long Island at that time was a Mets fan.

    Alvaro Espinosa was one of my favorite players (I thought his two-toned glove was cool). I worshipped Rickey Henderson. I bought into the Kevin Maas hype. I remember my Matt Nokes baseball card that made him look like he had a pig’s nose.

    Not to say that you have to love Torre, and all that he did for the Yanks. We all know Gene Michael probably had more to do with the dynasty than did Torre. Nor am I saying that all newer fans lack perspective.

    Joe Torre became the fall guy because the team didn’t have enough pitching. Sure he made some blunders – Weaver vs. the Marlins, wearing down key relievers in meaningless August and September games.

    However, if Kevin Brown, Tom Gordon, Randy Johnson, or Chien Ming Wang pitched better then Joe T. might still be managing today.

    Torre wasn’t the reason they didn’t win more than 2 WS this decade. It’s important to understand just how difficult it is to build a winner. It’s not like Steinbrenner suddenly started caring about the Yanks in the mid 90s.

    The Boss did whatever he could to make those 80s teams champs, but it was never enough… Why wasn’t it enough? Because of the same reason Torre is no longer the manager in NY – lack of quality pitching.

    So to sum up:
    Good pitching can make any manager look like a genius.
    It’s important to have perspective, because without it you come off sounding either spoiled or ignorant.

    • Renny Baseball

      Agreed. Also I became a Yankees fans around the same time. Torre gets blame for wearing out relief pitchers’ arms. On the other hand, he deserves some credit for getting the most (e.g., motivation-wise) out of his players.

      • whozat

        di-tto

        Yankees were AWFUL when I was a kid. I stopped watching after the strike, and only came back during the 2004 season. My only real first hand experience with JoeT was watching him try to make his push-button strategies from the days when the Yanks were head-and-shoulders better than everyone else work with the flawed teams from the middle of this decade, and I don’t hate him. I thought it was time for the Yanks to let him leave, but I don’t have this weird anger towards him that some kids seem to.

      • http://www.progressamericana.com/ Pablo Zevallos

        On the other hand, he deserves some credit for getting the most (e.g., motivation-wise) out of his players.

        Um, what? If you want to go with that kind of empirical evidence, you also always hear stories about how boring it was to play for the Yankees as well as the business-like atmosphere of the team. So I’m not sure where you’re getting that from.

        Also, going to the main point, the fact that he won the championships does not excuse what his awful habits. Just because things worked out at one point doesn’t mean that they will in the future, yet Torre never seemed to grasp that. Moreover, good performance in the past does not excuse middling performance in the present or future, a notion with which, I think, Yankee fans who supported Torre’s staying with the team haven’t quite come to terms.

    • Hey ZZ

      It is pretty tough to be mad at a guy who was at the helm of 4 world series championships and some of the best moments in Yankee history. The only thing I hold a grudge against Torre for is the midges game. Other than that though, no manager is perfect and they are all going to make mistakes.

    • cr1

      I agree with Vin. Having been a NYY fan since 1973, I’ve been through good periods and bad ones. And I’ve seen many a manager crumble here — the Boss and the press chewed them up and spat them out. Torre was able to handle both George and the media, manage stars and rookies, and get to the post-season 12 years hand running. That stability, on top of the consistency at a high level of play, changed the whole flavor of the Yankees universe. But fans who came along after the stability and the consistent high achievement were attained have no understanding of the transformation that we witnessed. That is not to diminish the credit of others who contributed to the excellence that we all enjoyed, but simply to recognize how different the world that younger or more recent fans inherited is from the one we came up in, and what a huge part Torre had in making it so.

      Just to be clear, I thought it was time for a change and advocated for the Yankees to retire Torre (and his number) at the end of that contract, give him a glorious send-off and offer him a nice FO berth if he wanted it, and to hire Girardi 30 seconds later. Everybody would have looked back on Mr. T’s tenure with admiration and affection, and would have respected ownership for handling a difficult issue like men. Instead we saw the debacle that ensued.

      I view Torre just as I do any other past Yankee hero, and I look forward to the day when FO is ready to do the same.

    • Jersey

      On the other hand, a lot of the Torre defense comes from fans who are looking at his management from his last few years through rose-colored pinstriped glasses. Don’t forget, Torre is the reason the front office felt the need to implement the “Joba Rules.” Even acknowledging that he didn’t have the same pitching depth in the later years, and also acknowledging the championships, there’s still fair criticism to be made.

      All that said, I look forward to the day when he gets his number retired.

    • DaveinMD

      Nonsense. The most games in a season I ever went to was in 1990. I grew up on Long Island when the Mets were king of NY and I took a ton of shit.

      I hate Torre because he’s disingenuous prick who always got more credit than he deserved. His passive aggressive book and the way he threw the non 90s players under the bus was pathetic. The way he ruined bullpens was sickening.

      • vin

        I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said.

        Did he get more credit than he deserved? Yes, but so would any manager who was at the helm of those great teams. Hardly his fault.

        Passive agressive book that ran down certain players? Yep. That was borderline despicable. Phil Jackson wrote a similar book, and was back coaching the Lakers a couple of years later.

        Did he ruin bullpens? Absolutely… as I mentioned earlier.

        There’s nothing wrong with disliking him for the above reasons. But the way I see it is there are many newer fans who hate him because the the Yanks didn’t win a WS the last 7 years of his tenure – which is ludacris.

        I wanted to see him go after 2006. And letting him walk after 2007 was a no-brainer. Simply because the team grew stale under him. Even the best managers have a shelf life.

        • DaveinMD

          You may say that. But don’t lump me in there. That is what I take umbrage to. And I know plenty of long time fans who can’t stand Torre

    • YankeeScribe

      I appreciate what Torre did for the team but I was happy to see him leave after the 07′ season. His book just confirmed by suspicions about his clubhouse managing style.

      That book threw a lot of people under the bus and it may not be a big deal to us but I’m sure there are a lot of active players on the Yankees and other teams who haven’t gotten over it. Therefore, it’s too soon to retire Torre’s number. Wait until he retires from baseball.

    • Pasqua

      Not only did you begin rooting for the Yanks during one of their dark periods, but Alvaro Espinoza was your favorite player? You, sir, are most definitely a masochist.

      /says the guy who started rooting for the Yanks in ’86.

  • Renny Baseball

    The number retirement seemed a no-brainer until he wrote the book. Any discussion on the issue now needs to consider whether this is something the team can get past when it comes to Torre.

  • toad

    Disclaimer: I haven’t read Torre’s book, so that might affect my view, but I do think the Yankees treated him badly when they let him go. Big contract for a manager or not, the deal they offered was a pay cut that they had to know he would refuse.

    If you want to let him go, a decision I’m not arguing with, you tell him, “We think it’s time for a change, thanks for all you did, good luck in the future,” etc. Throw in a watch or a car maybe.

    In other words, take responsibility for the decision. Don’t try to blame it on Torre being greedy or something.

    • DaveinMD

      It was Torre being upset that anyone had the gall to question any decision he ever made.

  • Frank

    Why was a pay cut such a travesty? The man had not delivered in the postseason in over 5 years. He managed the team that let our biggest rival come back from 0-3 for the first time ever in baseball. What warranted a pay raise? Or even a comparable pay? I don’t get it. His holier than thou crap got really old and tried to use the media to give him sympathy. When he didn’t get it, he got pissed and left and then wrote a book to make himself feel better. Not such a stand-up guy in my mind and certainly not a lock to get his number retired.

    • toad

      What warranted a pay raise? Or even a comparable pay?

      Maybe nothing. But if he’s doing a lousy job just let him go.

      Why was a pay cut such a travesty?

      Because they knew, IMO, that he wouldn’t take it.

      There’s ample reason to criticize Torre’s performance. I’m not arguing the point. But then why do you want him back at all, even with a pay cut? You can hire lots of managers for what they offered Torre. I think they didn’t want him back.

      And all I’m criticizing is the way they handled it. In my opinion the team knew Torre would turn down the offer, and they were just trying to cover their ass and pin the split on him being unreasonable rather than taking responsibility for the decision.

      Just my opinion.

  • Ghost of Scott Brosius

    Someone above referred to the younger fans who don’t really remember the nineties titles and are bitter towards Torre over the later years. I am, i suppose, one of those people. My first season of being a fan on a real level was 2001. The seasons i was most fully invested in in terms of watching every single game started in ’03. And to be honest, especially where it concerns the teams that lost in the ALDS, I give Torre a lot of blame. i give him credit for getting the Yanks into the playoffs in some tough years, and certainly he has considerable managerial talent, but towards the end he just got stale, particularly in the playoffs.

    Those Yankee teams may have been flawed, but they had enough talent to put up a much greater fight than they did in the Anaheim, Detroit, and Cleveland series. It wasn’t so much the losing as the way they lost- with no intensity, no life at all. it’s not Torre’s fault if the hitters don’t hit, but it is up to him to inspire confidence in the team. And i think with those later Sheffield-Giambi-Arod teams, he just didn’t do it. He was sitting back, saying nothing, managing like he still had Cone, O’neill, and Bernie around. He never supported Arod in the way he should have, nor used his influence with Jeter do get more support from Derek for Alex and other newcomers in the way that he should have. What hurt in those years was not the losing so much as the stale lifelessness. The defeat to Kenny Rogers stands out as a particularly appalling example of this. A lot of people attribute this year’s team’s winning and lighthearted attitude to Swisher, CC, AJ and Tex. And they deserve credit. But a ton of credit also goes to Girardi, who ensured that they were welcomed, and let them no that this was their team, not just Derek and Jorge’s. Girardi stood by Arod and made sure he had room to breathe and feel comfortable as well. I think Arod’s comfort and confidence can be attributed to Girardi to a large degree. Girardi has been able to do what Torre in the later years was unable or unwilling to.

  • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

    I understand the bitterness towards Torre to an extent. But honestly, I’ve moved on. I don’t really care about what he said in the book or who he was rooting for in the World Series. All I know is that he was the manager when the Yanks were a dynasty. I’ll always remember him, and everyone else involved with those teams, fondly for that.

  • KDB

    Nothing gets Torre of the hook. Retire his number after he’s inducted in the HOF, if for other reason that ticket sales, but the book forever paints his portrait black as far as I’m concerned.

  • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I have to admit, that book really bothers me when I think about Torre’s legacy. I think he made a major miscalculation and was incredibly short-sighted when he put that book out with Verducci. He seems to have felt like he had to defend his legacy, but he had to do nothing of the sort. If that book had never come out I’d be among the first people calling for Torre to get his own day at the Stadium and to get his number retired but he really, perhaps inalterably, changed my perception of him and my impression of his legacy with that book.

    The one thing Torre always had, even when people (myself included) soured on his in-game managing skills later in his career, is that he seemed like a decent, honorable guy who demanded a lot of respect from the organization. In my opinion he threw a lot of that in the trash when that book came out. Not only did he betray confidences and unnecessarily throw people under the bus in an ill-fated attempt to gain public sympathy, he also made himself look petty and spiteful in the process. Even though we already knew he overly-favored his core guys and didn’t necessarily treat guys out of his inner-circle so well, that stuff would have been overlooked after he left the Yankees and he would have been remembered as a good guy who won 4 World Series. Now the favortism, and the extent to which he was out of touch with many people on his teams and in his organization, is front and center in my mind when I remember him.

    Publishing that book was a major miscalculation by Torre. It soured his legacy with me and I’d imagine a decent portion of the fanbase. I won’t be upset when he gets his number retired, but I won’t be giving him any standing ovations or feel much emotion for the man, either.

    • Jeremy

      Very well put.

  • nathan

    Joe Torre number retired… haha thats funny… he did everything put throw rocks and piss on the Yankee logo when he left… he made millions on the book.. and now he is ready to bury the hatchet.. why? coz he has already made the money

    what an insult the Yanks threw at him with that contract… Joe torre is a task master.. if you agree with him you get the good graces else he will screw you… just like there are the core Yanks.. there are other Yanks stars and non-stars who felt insulted during his reign of incompetence..

    and the way he treated ARod.. damn i dont even like ARod.. but half of ARod’s issues were atrributable to the cold relationship that Torre maintained with Alex

    and who can forget the wonderful Verducci piece on SI 3-4 years back when he spoke about ARod’s ADD in his office… Joe Torre is a money makingmachine who will stop at nothing to garner your attention.. the media and the blogs lap it up.. without even knowing they are watching a show…

    • steve (different one)

      and who can forget the wonderful Verducci piece on SI 3-4 years back when he spoke about ARod’s ADD in his office

      this.

  • Davor

    Torre had his guys and others. He was good until 2001, when he had Nelson, Stanton and Mendoza. He never liked young guys in bullpen, and he couldn’t manage bullpen that needed lots of mixing and giving players second and third chances. He was also loyal to his coaches, Stottlemyre should have been out at least a couple of years earlier.
    Before 2006 Cashman had very problematic job: He had both Tampa group and Torre trying to do his job. Torre would never use bullpen like this year’s, or play Cashman’s player over his favourite (like when he played Bernie in center instead of Lofton).

  • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

    http://thefastertimes.com/mlb/.....inbrenner/

    The more I think about it, the less respect I have for Joe Torre. Comapring Steinbrenner to his abusive stepafather? WTF, dude? Come on, that’s not right at all.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      If you read that post closer, it seems to be as though T.J. Simers made that comparison while Ali Torre — and a tacit Joe — simply compared George to a domineering, and not abusive, Steinbrenner. I also think Lisa Swan wrote that analysis of the Simers piece to make Torre look bad.

      • nathan

        Lisa Swan maybe over-interpreting.. but Joe Torre is who he is, a man who maxed out his resources, earned good money and threw dirt on the organisation while on the way out..

        interestingly his previous contracts also had escalators and bonus for playoff wins and WS appearances.. which obviously was an insult he was ready to take…

        how about negotiating a contract with Dodgers while their manager was still employed… thats not insulting that manager

        how about revealing clubhouse secrets… in a book..

        how about insulting the GM who went to bat for you everytime the owner got antsy… what did he do, threw dirt on Cash$$ on his way out…

        the only reason other core Yanks were not called out? he needs them for his Safe@Home dinners…

        if i were Ethier or Kemp or Martin i would keep my lips zipped, you never know what clips and quotes Torre is collecting for the ‘Dodger Years’ book…

        to parallel the Boss with a woman beating bastard is classless… or so Joe Torre