Friday, September 12, 2008
Cadillac Mescalade: A Tale of Two Joes
I have no love for the New York Yankees. Being a fan of the New York Mets, it really has to be that way. That said, I do have respect for individuals on the team - such as a Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams back in his day.
Another person I respected was Joe Torre.
Say what you want about his departure from the team last year, but the Yankees messed up on this point. Normally I wouldn't want them to keep someone around who would perhaps allow them to trump the Mets for the back page of the New York City tabloids, but the fact of the matter is that their new manager did not get the job done.
The Daily News' Bob Raisman, often one to fire a barb, writes how finally even the Yankees' own network is starting to come down on the team and their lackluster play. However, he mentions that they don't quite get to the point of talking about if and how Torre could have overseen a similar mess, had he been allowed to stay.
So allow me...
Things are going fine for Joe Torre: He took the Dodgers job; they are in the hunt for the playoffs; and, in all likelihood, he did need a breather from the Big Apple as well as from Yankees management.
What bothers me, though, is that when Torre was sent on his way and Girardi was brought in, there was supposed to be a change. The list went on and on in spring training about what the new Joe would add to the team. He did a hell of a job with the Marlins and that same success was supposed to be transplanted to the Bronx.
I give him the benefit of the doubt on a litany of pitcher injuries and other problems that are unfortunate (but part of the game), but what I don't like is that it was ever inferred that this guy could do it better than Torre with pretty much the same group of talent. I promise you, Joe Torre could have overseen this exact same mess from a Yankees standpoint, but he perhaps also could have gotten them a few more wins and possibly put them in the playoff mix.
What some have failed to realize (and it took me a little while myself) is that when you talk about the head coaches and managers like a Phil Jackson or a Joe Torre, sometimes the best part of what they do isn't the diagram of the backdoor cut or delivering the sign for the hit-and-run, but how they manage a bunch of professional athletes that play together.
I'm not the first person to single out these two for their abilities to do exactly that, but somewhere along the line the Yankees forgot that. They forgot they have Alex Rodriguez and all the baggage that comes with him, Jason Giambi and his history, and all the rest of the characters on the team that wears the Interlocking 'NY.'
So what started as a season that was to be a swan song for Yankee Stadium, has now turned into a tragedy. In about 10 games, the doors will close on the house that Ruth built and there will be no playoff games to give the place a proper sendoff. The Bronx Bombers had every right to change a manager, in all honesty they expect to win World Series year-in and year-out, but now they aren't even advancing to the playoffs. But when you feel like your car is broken down and can't do it anymore and you need to trade it, just don't ever act like there wasn't a long time where it always got you where you wanted to go. Like my boss once told me after some seven years on the job, "you know what, it's not even what you do anymore that matters, it's more what you know."
One Joe seems to have known a lot more than another Joe, and sadly for fans of the pinstripes now they know.