Torre > Brosius? It cannot be. I will not hear such blasphemy, Sir Buster
Look, Joe Torre seems like a good enough guy. Grandfatherly mien, reassuring eyes, a calm, arms-folded presence in the dugout. No obvious assholish tendencies. Sure, we're all emotional
about his departure. I ask you, though, Buster Olney, when you wake up one year from now, will you still really believe this paragraph? How about five years? Fifty?I always will believe that during the 1996-2001 dynasty, Mariano Rivera was the only uniformed member of the organization more important to the Yankees' success than Torre. They could not have won so much without him, and it remains to be seen if any Yankee manager can ever be as successful or as adept as Joe Torre.
Oh. "Always." You will always believe that no player besides Mariano Rivera
was more valuable than Joe Torre. Seriously, when Derek Jeter retires, are you really going to write that, hey, Jetes was a pretty sweet shortstop, but he was no Joe Torre when it comes to winning baseball games? If you had a crazy combo draft of players and managers in 2001, are you really taking Torre over Derek Fucking Fitzgerald Jeter, God of Baseball and Winner of Life?
I'm sorry. This is a heartfelt piece by Buster. He's emotional. There's stuff in there about fatherly pats on the cheek (his words, not mine) and cancer and Scott Brosius' dying dad that I'm not even going to touch. Buster, I understand that you know the man and that you empathize with him. You spent time with him. You know more about Joe Torre the person than everyone reading this blog except for Don Mattingly (hi, Don!). But you can honor Joey T-Bones without resorting to this kind of run of the mill, knee-jerk, Baseball Tonight Bold Prediction-type sports-writing/-commentary hyperbole.
And let's take a step back. Again, we're all sad. Torre is leaving. Stand-up guy. Might be a bad decision for the club. But we're talking about a situation where you're feeling misty-eyed for a guy who's turning down a five million dollar base salary because it is a fucking insult to him. Five million dollars. And he's not hitting 97-mph Josh Beckett fastballs or spearing Curtis Granderson laser beams. He's not doing something that only a select few hundred human beings have the physical and mental capacity to do. He's choosing what order to write down names in a lineup (sometimes poorly). He's deciding when to put a relief pitcher in a game (often incorrectly).
Managing is easier than playing.
Which brings us to value, or as Buster frames it, "importance." Mariano Rivera: extremely important. Thanks for the concession, Buster. And now, a smattering of stats from some of the players who helped the Yankees win four championships in five years. I'm not saying that Joe Torre didn't contribute. I bet he did. Some. But these guys effing played the games
Tino Martinez, 1996-2001: 175 HR
Derek Jeter, 1996-2001: 1187 hits
Bernie Williams, 1996-2001: 6 consecutive years of OPS+s over 131
Andy Pettitte, 1996-2001: 1274 2/3 IP, ranging from good to outstanding
Paul O'Neill, 1996-2001: 604 RBI
And these are just some of the really good guys. The list, honestly, is endless. Forget these guys. Forget even the regulars: the Brosiuses, the Knoblauchs, the Stantons. How about Chili Davis' 476 okay at bats at DH? At least he got hits and scored runs. Hideki Irabu sucked, but at least he got some outs
The much belabored point is this: Joe Torre managed supertalented teams for a super long time in a super overexposed media market. For that he is a saint in the eyes of many. But he is a human man, a man who was an okay to pretty good baseball manager doing a job that probably a fair number of other people might have been fine doing as well. Baseball managers do not play the game. They do not have as much influence on the outcome of the game as say, football coaches or Ramiro Mendozas. Search your pinstripe-tattooed soul. You know this to be true.
Now excuse me while I finish crying about Joe's departure. I started several days ago and am not ready to stop just yet.
Labels: joe torre, managing, scott brosius, yankees