I really enjoy New York magazine, but not really for its sports coverage or coverage of the Yankees. They simply aren’t knowledgeable or in-depth enough. I might as well be listening to WFAN. So when I read an article like this one, it is somewhat surprising. They critique Joe Torre – something that would have been unheard of not too long ago:
What the Yankees have failed to do since the 2000 season, of course, is win a world championship. Torre spreads the blame for this around liberally in his book, putting the onus on everyone from Brian Cashman to Alex Rodriguez to Don Zimmer. In fact, the Yankees’ failure to take another World Series was due mostly to a handful of excruciating playoff losses where the difference was usually … well, their manager. Nearly every one of these losses turned on a dubious Joe Torre decision. In the critical Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, he brought in Jeff Weaver (Jeff Weaver!) to give up the winning run with Mariano Rivera in the bullpen; in the second game of the 2007 ALDS, he left a struggling Joba Chamberlain in to be devoured by gnats. During the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, as New York blew a three-games-to-none lead, Joe sat so passively in the dugout that many of us feared he had suffered a stroke. In Game 4, Torre failed to call a pitchout on speedy Sox pinch-runner Dave Roberts when Roberts appeared on first base in the ninth inning all but wearing a sign reading i’m going to steal now; he insisted on pitching to the terrifying Sox slugger David Ortiz with Game 5 on the line and the less-than-immortal Doug “Eye Chart” Mientkiewicz on deck; he declined to bunt on the immobile Curt Schilling, who was pitching Game 6 with a tendon stapled to his ankle bone. In the final game of the series, with the Yankees reeling, the bases full of Red Sox, and Johnny Damon at the plate, Joe rose at last from the bench and brought in … the slumping Javier Vazquez, against whom Damon had hit a pair of mammoth home runs earlier in the season. Damon promptly hit a grand slam.
This is right on – managers become way more important during the postseason than during any other time. Talented teams will find a way to make the playoffs. But for years, everyone in New York has bought the Joe Torre-kool aid. I think that after this book though, that may no longer be the case.
How’s the saying go? Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?