I’ve always been fascinated with the managing side of Major League Baseball. Whether it was Torre of Girardi at the helm, I imagined myself in their shoes, and how difficult a job it would be. Or, would it be?
Something I’ve come to think of over the past few years, is that I don’t know if it really is a difficult job to manage a big-market team like the Yankees or Phillies. Perennial contenders and annual spenders in free agency, who restock and retool their roster to the best of their ability year after year. The manager doesn’t need to lift a finger in building the team, and when it does come together, it seems he doesn’t need to say or do much for the team to perform.
We’ve all talked about Joe Torre’s incredible-turned-ugly tenure with the Yankees, and how he went down as one of the best skippers of the 20th Century. But in reality – and I am a Torre fan – his success was because of what was given to him, not for what he did. Buck Showalter and Gene Michael had already set the Yanks up for glory before Torre even got a phone call from George Steinbrenner. The Core Four, which at the time was much larger including guys like Bernie, O’Neill, and David Cone, were already on the team. Tino Martinez would be signed to a big contract to replace Don Mattingly, and New York was already coming off a playoff appearance in 1995.
And what do you know, Torre led the Yankees to the World Series championship in ’96, ending an 18-year title drought. “Clueless Joe” was now the talk of the town, and a well-respected skipper. Add three more titles to his resume, and some, maybe most people now think of him as a sure-bet Hall of Famer.
The thing that I am really stumped about, is was it really hard for Torre to manage one of the best dynasties in sports history? Think about how great the Yankees were in the 90’s. Who really built the team? Showalter, Michael, and eventually Cashman who re-tooled for the 98, 99, and 2000 championships. Is it a stretch to say regardless of the skipper, the Yanks would have had similar success? I don’t think so.
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