Joe Torre must be respected as one of the greatest managers in franchise history, but there is a very disturbing pattern emerging from reports of his tell-all tome. We can’t condemn a man for a few isolated statements, especially when his body of work is otherwise overwhelmingly positive, but it’s very interesting to note who he bashes, who he doesn’t, and how he does his damage.
Look at the guys he does call out: A-Rod, Wells, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Brian Cashman. These are people who he describes as having “emotional issues” and “demons.”
Who does he deliberately avoid any possible confrontation with? Gary Sheffield, that’s who: a guy who called Joe Torre a racist, a guy who quit on his team in order to arrange a trade, a guy who is generally acknowledged as bad guy to have on your team. So what is Joe’s reaction to Sheff? He apologizes.
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This from John Harper in today’s Daily News, “Torre recounts a team meeting in 2005 when he accused Sheffield of loafing, and their subsequent meeting about it. Sheffield insisted he wasn’t loafing, and Torre said if that was truly the case, then he apologized.”
From this perspective, a pattern emerges. If you’re one of “Joe’s guys” and you’re perfect in the clubhouse, you have no issues that need coaching, you’re great. If you have some issues that require man management or strong leadership, you’re on your own. He made it clear early in the A-Rod fiasco that he wouldn’t take any steps to defend a player with issues or help him fit in. In fact, he seems to stare down his nose at them as to say, “what’s wrong with you?” If you’re a complete jerk, however, he’ll just apologize. He won’t confront you or attempt to bend you to his will for the betterment of the team. From what he’s saying in the book, he almost needs a perfect team of guys who are all great in the clubhouse and are all the same and have no issues at all.
You know what, Joe, at some point, maybe you should have stopped complaining about these guys and started managing them. It’s your job to take guys that are struggling and make them fit in, make them a part of your team. This book makes it seem like he can only succeed when he’s given guys with perfect attitudes that have a boatload of talent. It’s not like he was given the ’78 Yankees or anything. He had a few guys with issues, and instead of putting the arm around them and getting their head on straight, he seemingly just let them self-destruct.
Like I said, his body of work is overwhelmingly positive, but statements like these make me wonder whether he just lucked into having a perfect bunch of guys with his Yankee run or whether he actually is a great manager. What do you guys think?