Jun
26

The complicated New York legacy of Joe Torre

By

He started out in the tabloids as Clueless Joe, the mediocre manager with a sub-.500 record who wouldn’t put up a fight against George Steinbrenner. On the way to a bitter divorce, he became one of the Yanks’ all-time winningest managers with four World Series championships to his name. Along the way, he managed the biggest post-season collapse in baseball history and watched his once-reliable team sputter through some Octobers. Then he burned many in a book and hasn’t been back since.

Last night, that man — Joe Torre — found himself in an odd position. For the first time since leaving New York amidst the turmoil of a midge-inspired playoff to the Indians in 2007, Torre faced off against his old teammates. The coverage has see-sawed from bittersweet to hyperbolically over the top. In other words, it’s just another day in the world of New York sports.

Two of the better takes come from opposing sides of the Torre Divide. Buster Olney, in a piece to which Joe linked yesterday, looks at Torre’s “bittersweet reunion” with his former team while Mike Vaccaro remembers the good times. Nothing sums up the city’s mixed feelings over Joe Torre better than those two conflicting takes. Is his legacy The Yankee Years, a book I called unnecessary last year? Or is his legacy the return to greatness for a Yankee franchise that had been saddled by George Steinbrenner?

As is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there appears to be a growing sense among Yankee fans that Joe Torre outlived his welcome in New York City. He was never as good a manager by himself as he was when he had a strong cast of supporting coaches. In fact, after Don Zimmer’s departure following the 2003 World Series, Torre seemed to lose a lot of his golden touch. Working with flawed teams, he reached the playoffs every year, but after the 2004 collapse, he couldn’t guide the team past the first round.

While pondering Torre yesterday, I asked my Twitter followers if they thought Joe should have been fired after 2004 instead of after 2007. Even though we could argue that the 2004 Red Sox were a far superior team to their 2004 New York counterparts, the Yankees were up 3-0 and couldn’t put the team away. Mariano Rivera struggled to close the door in Game 4, but Torre then went with Tom Gordon in the 8th inning of Game 5 to disastrous effect. Mo had to get six outs anyway, and he couldn’t squeeze out of a first-and-third, no-out jam.

The responses were varied. Some thought Torre should have been fired after 2003 when he went with Jeff Weaver over Mariano Rivera in the 11th inning of a pivotal Game 4. Others thought that if not 2004, maybe after 2006 when he dropped A-Rod in the batting order and generally seemed to have no idea how to escape from Detroit. By the time the midges descended on Cleveland and Torre didn’t want to waste a mound visit to try to pull his team off the field, the ship had sailed. The Yankees weren’t going to fire Torre outright, but they weren’t going to play nice either.

After the book came out, sentiment turned against Saint Joe. He burned Alex Rodriguez, the player with which the team has a love-hate relationship but who drives fans to the team; he threw Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown, admittedly easy targets, under the bus; he slammed Brian Cashman. It was an ugly, ugly affair.

Today, I have very mixed feelings about Joe Torre. As last year’s team and this year’s show, the Yanks don’t need that Joe win; they have another one who is perfectly capable at handling the team’s owners, the New York media, and his high-priced superstars with their fragile and not-so-fragile egos. Yet, I’ll always have a soft spot for Torre. He came onto the scene after 12-year-old Ben lived through his most heartbreaking moment as a Yankee fan, and then, Torre turned the team into winners. He had a way with the Yanks that made him a commanding and comforting presence. I wasn’t, though, sad to see him go. He had outlived his time in New York and burned a bridge with that book.

When Mariano Rivera took the mound last night and threw 10 of 13 pitches for strikes, as the Dodgers’ 4-5-6 hitters failed to put a ball on play, Torre grew disgruntled. His team had beaten him, and it was great.

Categories : Musings

87 Comments»

  1. Rob says:

    I agree. It’s a Tale of Two Torre’s. The first – Good Torre – was a likeable guy with a likeable team. They won the right way and his players were almost all class – a reflection of himself. You felt good for the guy.

    The second – Bad Torre – was egotistical in an almost a royal way. He confused his managerial “skills” for the team’s success. So his curious choices seemed perfectly ration. There was no one to question him. That’s the guy who writes The Yankee Years for a quick buck.

    So as I reflect I see two distinct people. The first is like a nice uncle who finally wins the lottery. The second is a 70 year old divorcee banging an LA “actress”.

  2. Little Bill says:

    Joe Torre is a rat and a sell out. One of the greatest days in Yankees history was the day Joe Torre was fired.

    • deuce bag poster says:

      Even I wouldn’t go that far.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      He wasn’t fired.

      • deuce bag poster says:

        That too.

      • Little Bill says:

        He was fired. Even Ben agrees with me- “While pondering Torre yesterday, I asked my Twitter followers if they thought Joe should have been fired after 2004 instead of after 2007.”

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Ben’s wrong. Torre’s contract expired after 2007, they offered him a new one, he said no and left.

          • Pete says:

            kinda like that dude who’s DHing to the tune of a 112 wRC+ over in detroit?

            • Mike Axisa says:

              You mean the guy that’s hitting .228/.322/.329 in his last 41 games? Yeah, just like that.

              • Pete says:

                haha yeah I meant what i said in that vein, but then realized that (because of his relatively hot start) Damon’s actually been decent this year, even for a DH (by current DH standards, anyway)

                • Pete says:

                  overall, I should add – I don’t think he finishes out the year over 2.5 WAR (I’m guessing a 104 wRC+ and a -6 UZR in limited PT in left)

          • Torre’s contract expired after 2007, they offered him a new one, he said no and left.

            It was a bit of an insulting offer, though, probably designed to offend him and get him to not accept. Or at least, it was an offer that they expected would insult Torre; that’s a better way of putting it.

            It’s not the same as being fired, but it’s in the ballpark.

            • Mike HC says:

              Yup. More like he was asked not to come back.

            • Pete says:

              $5 million + incentives should not be an insulting offer.

              • What if you had been making more than 5M + incentives before that?

                Getting your pay cut is pretty much always an insult.

                • Pete says:

                  at the same time, a manager of all people should understand that it is a business, and that inefficiencies should be removed from the process if at all possible. Paying a manager more than $5 mil + incentives is inefficient. A good manager would have understood that, even if it weren’t his field.

                  • Pete C. says:

                    He deserved to get his pay cut. The Yanks were spending what amounted to the tax revenue of several small countries in the time he was manager. And the playoff results were just plain poor. After the collapse in ’04, that followed the W.S. loss in ’03, it was time for everybody to move on. Not three years later.
                    Granted the teams he had were flawed, and if he had the starters Girrardi has now the results probably would have been different.
                    But after having said that, almost all jobs that have someone managing people have a shelf life, especially ones that have an atmosphere of intense competition. He reached his after the Yanks lost to Boston.
                    Joe Torre at the very least gave the impression that he was entitled to a raise and an extension based on the performance of the team in the late 90′s. This from a guy who couldn’t get his team to rally in ’04. and did everything he could to burn his bullpen out.
                    It was said earlier that the team wasn’t the same after Zimmer left, I second that, and as much as I love Ron Guidry he wasn’t a pitching coach at least at that level.
                    Ordinarily I would look back on his time with fond memories, but the way he handled his exit and the tell all book after, just makes him something other than the sympathetic character some have painted him as.
                    I wonder what he did when Sabathia plunked Padilla Friday night.

  3. jon says:

    During the game one of the guys in the booth said something Joe Torre told him. It was something like “I have no idea why Arod would hold a grudge against me / not want to shake my hand”

    Did Torre not read his own book?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      It was Verducci’s book with a little input from Torre.

      /nitpick

      • Little Bill says:

        You’re nitpicking everything. It as Verducci’s book with a lot of input from Torre. Torre sold out his players, the organization, and the fans. He deserves to rot in L.A. while the Yankees win title after title without him.

    • deuce bag poster says:

      I agree. That was one of the dumber comments I’ve ever heard. Is Torre really that out of touch with reality?

      Not to mention that there’s a world of difference between not bothering to go out and seek out a guy and shake his hand and holding a grudge. Torre took the bait and gave the NY tabloids another quote that tries to make A-Rod look bad.

      • jon says:

        I thought arod handled himself well in the post game interview. Kim Jones was fishing for a comment about arod wanting to stick it to torre but he didnt give her one

  4. PTrot says:

    anyone catch Michael kays rant on his radio show yesterday about Torre? I only caught part of it, but it is way too personal. He kills Torre.isnt this guy supposed to report the news, not be part of it? Hereally comes off as a total d-bag and being in the pockets of the Steinbrenners and Randy Levine

  5. Pete says:

    good stuff, Ben.

    In my opinion, we do not hold managers in general to a high enough standard in today’s game. There is so much information available to managers in this day and age that they simply should not make mistakes. Period. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t, or won’t make decisions that come back to bite them. That will happen to every manager. But judged independently from luck, confirmation bias, and hindsight, a manager’s record should be essentially perfect, give or take a few either/or judgement calls. There should always be a valid reason (not just a reason, but a rational, well-thought-out, reason that withstood counter-arguments) behind what a manager does.

    In that regard, to the extent to which I watched Torre extensively (really ’05-’07), Torre was a pretty bad manager. While he didn’t run his offense into the ground the way some overly lauded managers (**cough**Mike Sciosia**cough**) do, and demonstrated a good amount of even-keeled-ness in regards to both the lineup and the rotation (2006 playoffs aside), he never really seemed to understand that reliever X’s arm over the course of the whole season was more important than saving a game in May, or that for inherently volatile relievers, not pitching leads to shitty pitching. Just like it does for all pitchers, only more so.

    His biggest claim to fame always seemed to be his “ability to handle egos” or whatever. This I never understood. For one thing, these players are adults. They are perfectly capable of doing their job whether or not they like their teammates much. I would bet, actually, that most baseball players are as good as they are because of their egos – their desire to be better prevents them from simply sitting on natural talent, and drives them to take the necessary extra steps to succeed. For another, the sport lends itself quite nicely towards high-ego superstars anyway, by being the most individualistic team sport there is. There’s no passing in baseball. Great players in this (Torre’s) day and age know the value of walks and OBP. There really isn’t any way to hurt your team by being selfish unless you swing at bad pitches, and Cashman always made sure that Torre had a lineup full of guys who didn’t do that.

    But to make matters worse, Torre, whose surefire HOF induction almost exclusively rests outside the realm of his in-game decision-making ability (i.e. the success of his ridiculously talented teams and his “intangibles”) went and basically threw out his off-field cred (whatever it amounted to) by throwing a whole bunch of his former players and organizational people under the bus.

    So what, after years of bullpen deterioration, multiple terrible playoff decisions, and a very one-sided tell-all book, does he really have going for him? So he never got in (public) spats with any of his players during his tenure, didn’t throw watercoolers or get tossed from half his games, and didn’t bunt his perpetual lineup of all-stars out of contention. Is that really the criteria for being a great manager?

    ed. note: anybody else think that managers without ex-player credentials but have a stronger understanding of how to manage a roster over the course of a 162 game season will be the new advanced defensive analysis in the next few years?

    • deuce bag poster says:

      I know correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but I’m going to defend Torre here.

      He managed one of the best teams of all time in 98′ and won the WS with them.

      He had one of the worst WS teams of all time in 2000 and won the WS with them. So we know that he could do it with both good and bad teams.

      For several years he managed to take teams that weren’t particularly great and get them to play over their heads and get into the playoffs anyway.

      Now, he had some MAJOR flaws. But his success really speaks for itself. At what point do you acknowledge that the correlation does indeed equal at least SOME causation?

      • Pete says:

        I can’t speak to his in-game managing back then, since I didn’t really start watching until ’05, but unless it was wildly different, he was probably doing plenty of stuff wrong back then as well.

        As for the success stuff, I’ll make two points – one, I conceded already that Torre has never screwed up with the lineups and rotations (not that it would have been hard not to), which are both much more important than a bullpen that already contains Mariano Rivera, and which together, plus Mo, render his inability to efficiently manage a bullpen relatively insignificant. And two, take a look at all of those teams, AND at the rest of the AL at the time:

        1: Orioles collapsed after ’97, Sox were competitive, but still pretty weak before 2003, Jays were worse than the Sox although still relatively competitive, and the Devil Rays were a total non-factor. Outside of the AL-East, there were no real powerhouses, other than the ’99 Indians (the 2001 mariners were post-WS for torre).

        2: The 1998 team looked quite a bit like the 2010 roster, only better – deep, high-OBP lineup, good defense, great rotation. They managed to avoid major slumps from key players, and the injury bug, and there was nowhere near the same level of intradivisional competition back then. It was a perfect storm of talent, timing, and luck. Again, clearly Joe didn’t do much of anything wrong back then, and I can’t say whether or not he was brilliant with his decision-making, since I was 7 back then. But that team should have been dominant.

        3. The 2000 team underperformed during the regular season, and got hot during the postseason. Again, not saying Joe did anything wrong there, but can you actually point to anything specifically that he did well?

        4. He didn’t get teams to play over their heads. He was handed, year after year, 900 run offenses and pitching staffs that included, over the years, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, David Wells, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang (the good version), and a lot of veteran innings-eaters to fill out the rotations that were routinely headed by legitimate frontline starters, if absent a “true ace” from ’04-’07. Considering the fact that the Rays were a non-factor until after Torre left, and the Sox relatively impotent until 2003, and that there was no really dominant team elsewhere in the AL during his tenure, would it really be unreasonable to say that those teams simply met the expectations yielded by the talent present on their rosters, regardless of Torre’s influence?

        My point is not, of course, that Torre turned 120-win teams into 100 win teams year after year. Hell, his influence over the course of his entire tenure was probably less than 10 games in either direction. But as you said yourself, he had MAJOR flaws. How is it that we consider a manager who had such obvious failings – failings that were abject and independent of luck or hindsight – a “great” manager? A manager whose faults could have been pointed out by even a casual fan, and yet were never corrected, is going to glide easily into the Hall of Fame, in large part due to his managing. My question is why?

        • deuce bag poster says:

          The reason is that the success speaks for itself. He won four world series titles and made the playoffs every year. He’s led a team and made it one of the best teams of all time. He led a shitty team and led it to the WS. He took teams with shitty pitching staffs and led them above what their record should have been and into the playoffs. He’s led comebacks. With the Yankees, he NEVER missed the playoffs. Hell, he had to be doing something right.

          • Pete says:

            Yes, but if you look closer at the context, you’ll realize that that’s not true -his success doesn’t speak for itself, because he never succeeded (with the yankees, anyway) in a situation wherein he shouldn’t have, or succeeded beyond what his team ought to have done. Compare any of those “shitty pitching staffs” to those of the main competition (Red Sox, wild-card teams), and you’ll find that the Yanks pretty much always had a solid rotation and ALWAYS had an elite offense. Elite offense + decent starting pitching will get you to the playoffs unless it’s 2010, and you’re competing against the 2010 Rays and 2010 Red Sox.

            Once again, though, you’re missing the main gist of my point, which is that managers shouldn’t have faults or major flaws, period. They should be looked at in a vacuum first, especially in this era, when the amount and quality of information available to managers FAR outreached that of older times.

            In general, though, I just don’t really believe that any manager belongs in the hall of fame unless he has proven that his contributions to his team were, in some measurable way, enormous. When it comes down to it, with Torre you’re comparing the success of ridiculously talented teams with a decent number of examples of objectively bad managerial decisions, along with a few mildly detrimental habits, like overusing some of his relievers and underusing the rest of them.

            • deuce bag poster says:

              Well, I’ll disagree. In 2005 the pitching staff sucked and they made the playoffs. In 07′ the pitching staff wasn’t that good and they made the playoffs. In 2000 they had a terrible team and won the WS. The success still speaks for itself.

              • whozat says:

                That’s a facile analysis. Success doesn’t speak for itself, because we’re trying to attribute the credit for the success.

                Yeah…the pitching sucked in both those years, but the offense was great. And they only really had to deal with the Red Sox, with the safety net of the wild card to allow them into the playoffs even if they didn’t win the division. They could (and did) slug their way in, with a lineup that basically played every single day.

              • Pete says:

                In 2005 the Yanks had Randy Johnson (before he fell off a cliff), Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, and Jaret Wright. All of those guys had talent. (For reference, the ’05 Sox Rotation: Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Clement, David Wells (old David Wells), and Wade Miller).

                In 2007, they had Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, and Hughes, and the league’s best offense (both Posada and A-Rod had MVP-caliber seasons), and didn’t win the division. (Sox rotation that year: Beckett, Schilling, Wakefield, Daisuke, and Julian Tavarez/Rookie Jon Lester).

                In 2000, the team was hit hard by a lot of underperformance, but still had Pettitte, Cone, El Duque, Clemens, Jeter, Posada, Tino, O’Neil, Williams, etc. – probably the most talent in the AL, and certainly a better team on paper than the Red Sox (literally Pedro, Nomar, and everyone else: http://www.baseball-reference......2000.shtml).

                As always, understanding context = VERY important.

        • James d. says:

          I won’t dispute Torre had flaws. But as for Torre and the HOF, let’s not forget that only 4 guys have won more WS titles, and one was Connie Mack, who owned the team.

          Not that WS titles are everything, but if Torre’s not a HOF manager, then only 3 men are. We also start to range close to the territory of denying him credit for winning titles (because the teams were so good) and criticizing him for not winning more titles (because his managing wasn’t so good).

          • Not that WS titles are everything, but if Torre’s not a HOF manager, then only 3 men are.

            That doesn’t make sense.

            • deuce bag poster says:

              I agree with the gist of the comment.

            • James d. says:

              Sorry, wasn’t terribly clear there. I meant to say that if (and only if) we were determining HOF managers by World Series titles, yet somehow deemed Torre not worthy, then the only guys left would be the three ranking above him (sans owner-manager Mack).

              • Pete says:

                but why on earth would you ever use world series titles as a a way of ranking managers?

                • deuce bag poster says:

                  Because their job is to lead teams to a WS?

                  • whozat says:

                    It’s like pitcher wins, though. Other people have SO much to do with achieving the goal in question.

                    A kitchen stove could have led the 98 yanks to the world series.

                    • James d. says:

                      I think WS titles can serve as a starting point because there are very few ways to demonstrably measure a manager’s impact upon a team.
                      Also, Torre is, with Sparky Anderson, the only manager since 1969 to earn more than 2 titles. In a two-round, now three-round, era, he’s been the most successful in winning titles.
                      Obviously, it’s not anything close to a final analysis. But you have to start somewhere.

                      Here’s the bottom line: To say Torre isn’t a HOF manager, especially in his era, I think the onus is on soundly, statistically proving who the many better peers were — and why they were better yet not as successful. To simply say he had too many flaws, or divide managerial mistakes — or decisions labeled as mistakes — into “questionable” or “unacceptable,” is to throw more subjective, unweighted statements onto what is already a difficult process.

                      This is entirely different, of course, from the “New York legacy” of Torre, as Ben’s post talked about. That’s rightfully more subjective and personal.

                • The209 says:

                  Is that a joke?

                  • Pete says:

                    No. Plenty of excellent managers get stuck with crappy teams (Manny Acta comes to mind), and plenty of crappy managers are given good teams. Just because Torre wasn’t as ridiculously terrible as Jerry Manuel or Dusty Baker doesn’t mean he was an incredible manager either.

          • deuce bag poster says:

            Yeah, I agree.

            Torre wasn’t perfect, but he did a great job in NY.

      • Pete C. says:

        In 2000 he played the Mets. Nothing more needs to be said about that. And as far as his Players not being the most talented in the game, ok there’s maybe 2 HOF locks; Jeter and Mo. But how many G.M.’s out there wouldn’t give up some of their best prospects for players Like Tino, Scott Brosius or Paul Oneill? The Yanks have had some of the best teams on paper ever that never went anywhere, maybe those teams weren’t the best position by position, but somehow they found ways to win, and while some of those instances Torre was directly responsible more often than not it was his team provided by the Yankees as well as Brian Cashman, Bob Watson and Gene Michael. And let’s not forget the commissioner who banned G.S. from baseball.

  6. Mike HC says:

    I will always love Torre and I definitely miss him as the Yanks manager.

    I also recognize that it was time for a change of manager and the Yanks probably made the move 3 years too late. Too bad the split could not have been amicable but that is often how these things turn out.

    I would also find it funny that Torre’s “Joe cool” demeanor and tea drinking ways would drive the more passionate fans insane. Good memories.

  7. Kiersten says:

    Torre was an excellent half-manager. He was good with personalities, the players loved him, he handled Stenbrenner, all that. But when it came to baseball, Don Zimmer was the guy. They used to always say that Torre always “pushed the right buttons.” It was never Torre, it was Zimmer, and once Zimmer left, we started to see the true Torre – making a mess out of the lineup, destroying bullpen arms, etc.

    • Mike HC says:

      Lets be honest. Starting pitching won us the titles, and lack of starting pitching was our downfall. Don’t overrate Zimmer in order to put Torre down. Baseball managers in all reality don’t do that much. Nor do bench coaches.

      • deuce bag poster says:

        I’d have to agree.

      • Kiersten says:

        I was talking about the things that managers DO have control over, things like, I don’t know, calling on someone from the bullpen and making sure your relievers’ arms don’t fall off. I’m rereading my comment, and funny, I never said that the Yankees won because of Zimmer and lost because he was gone. In fact, I never even mentioned winning or losing.

        • Mike HC says:

          It seemed like you implied that Zimmer was the true reason behind the Yanks successes while Torre was more of the face only. And Zimmer leaving was the cause of the yanks decline. If I am mistaken, my fault.

      • Pete says:

        agreed. Nevertheless, they shouldn’t make mistakes. That’s inefficient.

        • Mike HC says:

          Everyone makes mistakes. Its impossible to eliminate that. I would say, on the whole, he made more good decisions than bad, in my opinion.

          • Pete says:

            I dunno. There’s more than just mistakes, though. Torre’s chronic mishandling of the bullpen was something he himself should have rectified (though the impetus should have also been on the organization to see to it that he did). His refusal to change or better his approach (or even recognize an existing flaw) was unacceptable.

            But there are mistakes that are, in essence, in-the-moment minor lapses of judgement, like JoeG bringing in Aceves to face Mathis last year in the ALCS, and then there are mistakes that are simply inexcusable. Joba fell apart trying to pitch through a cloud of insects and Torre did nothing. That was unacceptable. Torre, with basically zero time constraints, decided to bat A-Rod 8th in Detroit in ’06 (and bat the equally-shitty-in-that-tiny-sample-size-and-recently-returned-from-injury Sheffield cleanup in Alex’s place). That was unacceptable.

            There are iffy decisions – debatable ones, like not pitching Mariano in a tie game on the road, and then there are unacceptable ones. In a number of situations during his tenure as Yankees manager, Joe Torre made unacceptable decisions. And the Yankees continued to accept them.

            If Brian Cashman made the “mistake” of, for instance, trading Joba, Phil, and Jesus Montero for Dontrelle Willis last summer, he would have been fired immediately. Obviously, the impact of Torre’s decisions were never anywhere near as significant as that, but in each of the cases above, he was so plainly incorrect that it honestly should not have been harder than turning down that deal would have been for Cashman.

            So, honestly, what particular bit of decision-making genius did Torre ever show? What, in full honesty, did he ever actually do for the team that anybody who understands the game of baseball couldn’t have done?

            There are times where I won’t understand a Girardi move, or will disagree with it, only to realize hours or even days later that it was, in fact, in the grand scheme of things, the right move. Which is, of course, how it should be – the manager should be “even” better at making decisions than any of us would have been. But can you actually provide a specific example (Torre-specific, not general-team-success-”specific”) of Torre exhibiting such an ability?

  8. bonestock94 says:

    I’m so conflicted over Torre that I just opt out of declaring an opinion on him. I will say this though. Yesterday, I wasn’t upset to see him in another team’s uniform. It was devastating to see Mattingly though, but that might be because he was my favorite player as a little kid. I’m thrilled to have Girardi managing the team, I like the way he carries himself and I agree with many of his decisions.

  9. coolerking says:

    Heard Michael Kay’s ESPN radio show on Friday when he interviewed Buster Olney. One thing is for sure, Kay does not care for Torre. He made sure to note on several occasions that many Yankees from the championship years “hate Joe Torre.”

    Personally, I think Pavano, Brown and A-Rod deserved to be slammed, but it’s pretty bush league for Torre to do it right after he left.

    • Because A-Rod did what, exactly?

      • bonestock94 says:

        Opted out, didn’t perform in the playoffs till 2009.

        • whozat says:

          Opting out was a purely business decision. There was more money to be had, and it would have been stupid of him not to maximize his earnings. As for the latter point, it’s 1) not true and 2) irrelevant. He was bad in 05, 06 and 07. Before that (for the Yanks and the M’s) he was pretty ridiculous. So, your argument is basically that, in 13 games spread over three years he sucked, so he should get “slammed”

          Makes no sense.

          • bonestock94 says:

            I don’t recall making an argument, not sure where you pulled that out from. I named the reasons why people might not like him.

        • Pete says:

          he made the smart business decision at the time, and if people could control when they get their hits, then they would just always get hits, wouldn’t they?

  10. James d. says:

    I think it’s easy, right now, to overestimate the negatives of Torre’s tenure and underestimate the upsides. As more time goes by, I think it’ll be easier to assess his legacy in New York — and though I believe time will bring a more positive legacy, that’s not guaranteed.
    I wonder if there is any correlation to Casey Stengel here. Both had absurd success out of the gate — Stengel winning 5 straight titles, Torre winning 4 in 5 years, Both had diminished levels of success after — Stengel going 2-3 in WS over 7 years, Torre going 0-2 in WS, 5-7 in all rounds. Both were definitely on the wrong side of their careers when they left under less than ideal conditions.

    Here’s what I see with Torre, as someone the same age, I think, as Ben. I see a guy who took over when the Steinbrenner ego was not at its peak, but still a powerful, volatile force. I think we forget that no manager had ever had a true tenure with the Yankees under Steinbrenner — even in good times. Whether by luck or skill, Torre proved that it could be done.
    We can also forget that despite the later years, with the perception of “Torre’s guys,” he dealt well with a mix of veterans and youngsters in the early years, not being afraid (particularly in 1996, and also in 2000) to make lineup/rotation swaps off performance rather than reputation.
    The loss of his best coaches, esp. Zimmer, is an interesting point, and kudos to Ben for reminding us, but it’s but a “what if?” in my mind. How can we truly show Zimmer’s absence meant Torre regressed managerially?

    Was Torre indispensable? Absolutely not. Obviously, Joe Girardi has stepped in nicely, with a similar track record so far vis a vis talent (the team’s ’08, ’09 results reflecting their ability). But there was definitely groundwork laid by Torre. He weathered the Steinbrenner years, created a seat of power/importance/comfort for the Yankees manager that was long missing, and probably stayed a little too long.

    As for the book, why should we care? I know, I can see why Yankees players or the front office may, but we’re not them. Torre didn’t rip blogs or fans (I assume), and it’s not a book anyone’s going to read 5 years from now.

    Anyways, a good perspective from Ben; I’m just offering my own (lengthy) thoughts.

    • jim p says:

      How can we truly show Zimmer’s absence meant Torre regressed managerially?

      Or not. The pre- and post-Zim stats would be interesting to see.

  11. DJH says:

    I’m very indifferent with Torre now. When he was here I actually loved his calm,sleepy,zen like personality but now I kinda hate him for basically ratting out his players ,so now I don’t care if the org ever mentions him again or if he ends up getting his number retired.

    BTW do any of you know if there is any site that might have a live feed of this game? I live in MI so there showing CHI/CHI and obviously FOX blacks out everything on mlb.tv.

  12. Januz says:

    There is no question that Torre and Alex Rodriguez did not get along. I think Alex did the difficult and for a change, RIGHT thing by not being “Politically Correct” towards Joe Torre. Instead, he let his bat do the talking, and because of him, CC, and Mariano, they got a huge 2-1 win. When you looked into that Dodger dugout, you saw how important that game was. As for Torre there are several unarguable facts. 1: He appeared in more games in uniform than anyone in the history of baseball without appearing in a World Series, prior to 1996………. The Yankees changed that. 2: He is going to Cooperstown as a Yankee………… unless he is willing to say don’t elect me. If he would be willing to do that, that would take guts to stand on principle (Does anyone expect that?)3: Although the Yankees were wrong not to mention him, when they closed the Stadium (Roger Clemens received the same treatment so it was not just overlooking him), they have not issued another #6 to amother person (So the possibility of a retired number for him still exists. 4: He was an outstanding manager, managing the New York Yankees is like coaching at Notre Dame or on the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps the most difficult job in sports, so he deserves credit for the four titles and lasting a decade. However, he had two guys who ranked at the top 3 at their position in the history of the game. Mariano Rivera who is an unquestioned number one, and Derek Jeter who might be the best at his position since Honus Wagner. Having those guys, and a few others who might be joining them in Cooperstown such as Rodriguez, Clemens, and Cashman (If he gets one more title, five Championships might get him into the builders wing of Cooperstown), made his job a lot easier.

    • When you looked into that Dodger dugout, you saw how important that game was.

      FACT: That game last night wasn’t actually important to anyone. No more or less than any other regular season game.

      • Januz says:

        Michael Kay alluded to the importance of the game, so it is not just my opinion. There are select games that matter more than others……… Red Sox, Rays, Mets, and facing Torre for the first and probably the final time since he left, are those games. If Torre holds to the position he is never going to the new Stadium, and is willing to forego Cooperstown for principle, then last night will have be really special. My question is will he return like Dave Winfield, Yogi Berra and even Jim (“Ball Four”) Bouton did, or will he say no to the Yankees and Cooperstown (Taking the HOF honor and not coming back is not standing up and doing the right thing). I hope he decides to be a leader and decline any HOF honor and goes home to Hawaii and never step foot in the Stadium. It has never been done, saying no to a HOF honor, will he be the first?

        • Pete says:

          Red Sox games and Rays games matter more than others because they have a two-way impact on the standings. Theoretically, so do games against the Orioles and Blue Jays. Other than those four teams, however, all games are of equal significance.

          (also, using Michael Kay’s opinion as a reference is probably not the best idea)

        • whozat says:

          “Michael Kay alluded to the importance of the game, so it is not just my opinion. ”

          Of course he did. His job is to drive viewership. Making viewers THINK a mid-june friday night game is important when, really, it’s not is exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.

          The reality is that, no, these games are no more or less important than the three games they just played against the dbacks.

      • DerMegalodonster says:

        FACT: Human beings (for better or worse) are every bit as emotionally driven as logic driven. Envy, malice, petty vindictiveness, etc. are a part of EVERY human being. Given the circumstances, unless the respective teams did not consist of humans, your argument/statement (and any defenses thereby) is just “plain” ridiculous.
        Somewhat relevant FACT: Human physiology actually changes according to emotional state and has a corresponding affect (however great or small) on physical motor skills.

        • Pete says:

          Have you ever actually played baseball? When you’re hitting, you’re not thinking about the other team’s manager, or your home life, or whatever, you’re not even really thinking at all. You’re just watching the baseball. When you’re fielding, you’re not thinking about other stuff either, you’re just watching the baseball.

          The one instance wherein I believe players CAN (but are not necessarily) be adversely affected is high-pressure at-bats, like in a second and third, two outs, bottom of the ninth, down by one run situation. But even then, players who fold under pressure like that probably don’t even make it to the majors to begin with.

          Emotions exist within peoples’ psyches, but I have never seen any evidence that baseball players’ performance can be affected by the narratives surrounding any one particular game. Postseason games mean more to the players, and yet they all tend to perform, given a reasonable sample size, right in line with their career norms.

          • Pete says:

            oh also, I forgot to add – how is that relevant anyway? players may have higher emotions during the game (though their play is probably not affected by it, if such emotion does actually exist), but that doesn’t change the fact that a win against the Dodgers on June 25 means the same thing as every other regular season win.

    • Pete says:

      Managing the New York Yankees: most definitely NOT the most difficult job in sports.

  13. The fact that that “Clueless Joe” article was written by Ian O’Connor makes me laugh.

    I’m amazed you were able to obtain a jpeg of that back cover. I figured O’Connor would have had the archived headline digitally altered to say “Yankees Make A Brilliant Hire with Torre; He’ll Win At Least 4 Titles”.

  14. Mark Da osa says:

    The reason that Torre was upset last night was with how the umpire called the bottom of the 9th. The whole night Padilla was getting strikes called in his favor on questionable pitches, that I considered balls. Mariano Rivera got those calls in his favor to finish the game.

    The Yankees are better than his and he knows it, which means that there is a good chance for a sweep. In the final game, if the Yankees have a chance for sweep, see how he manages the bullpen if its close.

    I think Burnett is going to have a good game tonight and it will frustrate Torre, with Joba having a good 8th inning.

  15. Nickel says:

    In retrospect, it’s easy to see how he totally manhandled his bullpens, running pitchers into the ground. Maybe I didn’t notice it at the time quite so much because I was younger and dumber, and by sharp contrast we see Girardi really use the entire bullpen, sometimes much to some people’s frustration, but often quite effectively. I think Torre’s flaw was having those Stanton-Nelson-Rivera years, and having a bullpen built around those three very dependale (and usually resilient and healthy) guys at the back end. Once Stanton and Nelson were gone, he tried to take whatever bullpen he had an tried to nail a square peg in a round hole with guys like Quantrill, Gordon, Proctor, Vizcaino, and probably some others that I’m forgetting. Not all bullpens can be run like the 1998-2000 version, and Torre just never adapted.

    That being said, when rumors would surface during the Torre era about him being fired, I used to pray it wouldn’t happen, because usually the people rumored to take his place just didn’t appeal to me: usually guys like Bobby Valentine (who just annoys me) and Lou Piniella (whom I always thought was overrated, even though I know some people might disagree with me).

    My opinion of Torre, however, completely soured after “The Yankee Years,” which, in my opinion, was totally classless. I’ve joked that if A-Rod really wants to irk Torre, he should change his number to 6.

    • Pete says:

      I agree about the bullpen “system” – Torre found that he could succeed with three quality bullpen arms, especially when he was getting a lot of 7+ inning performances out of his starters. That became more of a rarity in the mid 2000s, however, and the corresponding lack of super-durable quality middle relievers hurt him.

      But he never should have stuck to the three-man-bullpen idea in the first place, for multiple reasons. The most obvious, of course, is that it ruins those pitchers’ arms. But it also prevents other guys out there from getting regular work, without which you have no idea whether or not they can be solid contributors. When managed properly, the “scrap heap” bullpen format works just as effectively, is cheaper, and doesn’t leave you with two burnt out arms and a bunch of guys with 21 appearances by September. It’s one of the rare situations where being inefficient within the game (by calling upon a pitcher who may be of lesser quality than other available arms) can make the bullpen machine more efficient over the course of a full season.

  16. Kiersten says:

    It’s weird to think that when Torre started, the back page of the News was still black and white.

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