Sunday, October 03, 2010

So long, Joe!

Today is Joe Torre’s final game managing the Dodgers, perhaps his final day managing anywhere. I’m really going to miss him. And not just because he’s a big fan of CHEERS. Okay, well that’s a big reason but there are others.

Joe is the definition of a mensch . Whether it’s a superstar player or just the schmuck who hosts the postgame radio show, he treats everyone the same – with respect and kindness. He remembers ushers’ names. He patiently answers every question we media grunts ask even though some are so staggeringly stupid you wonder how these morons can tie their own shoes much less cover baseball.

People see Joe on TV during games, expressionless, and assume he needs a can of Red Bull just to get to the 4th inning. But he is registering every pitch, every nuance, and analyzing the game on a plane the rest of us so-called baseball experts can only dream about. You ask him about a play in a game from two weeks ago and he’ll tell you players, the situation, the pitch, where the defense was playing – it’s very impressive.

But yes, he does burn out pitchers. And his loyalty to certain veterans whose best days, good days, even horseshit days are far behind them is maddening. But it seems if you’re going to err, err on the side of believing too much. in people.

I’ll take with me many fond memories of my three years with Joe. He – teaching me the finer points of the game. Me – telling him what Shelley Long was really like. He and I recently sitting together in the Dodger Dugout, both lamenting how clueless we are at raising teenage daughters. Standing on the tarmac at LAX at 4:45 in the morning, waiting for our luggage after just flying home from Philadelphia after we just lost the National League Championship Series and him saying, even at this incredibly low point, how much he loves and cherishes the game. What I was really hoping he’d say was “do you need a ride home from the airport?” but that was pretty special too.

Don’t know what he’ll do now. He just turned 70 and the last summer he had off was the year we won World War II. And you could see this year has worn on him.   Watch him in postgame interviews with his cap off and his hair all matted and you could swear he was turning into Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING.

But whether it’s a front office position, a consultancy role, broadcasting (he was a terrific announcer for the Angels), or back in the managerial trenches he’s sure to be an enormous asset for whoever is fortunate enough to get him.

I wish him the very best. I will miss him tremendously. He’s mentioned several times that he looks forward to watching his daughter’s softball game. Let me know when Joe and I’ll provide the Red Bull.

18 comments:

M.S. said...

Have you ever had the chance to watch my favorite baseball movie, the adaptation of Torre's autobiography? That is one humorous tv movie-- and not just for the way they handle the 1996 Mariners series.

Sample expository device:

Anonymous Sports Call-in Caller: “Ever since the playoffs last year, you know those guys HATE each other!”

Phillip B said...

Saw Joe Torre break in as a young catcher in Milwaukee - he reached the majors at 19 and just always seemed more mature than the other guys.

Followed him ever since. He finished second to Billy Williams in Rookie of the Year voting in 1961, and ten years later won the MVP with the Cardinals, playing third base.

He is that rare star player who continued to develop the leadership skills to be a Hall of Fame manager. The Dodgers were lucky to have him -- but the Yankees were the luckiest of all.

Mary Stella said...

I've always respected Joe Torre. Even though I'm not even remotely a Yankees fan, I liked him when he managed the team.

He even did great in television commercials, unlike some of the painful local ads that run with wooden postured, monotone players touting car dealerships or air conditioning systems.

DodgerGirl said...

Even though it took some getting used to see Joe Torre in Dodger gear and not a hated Yankee uniform, I have appreciated and loved having him as our manager.

Now if only the McCourts could be as classy...

Dan said...

The NY Mets have an opening...

Anonymous said...

Going to have to disagree Dodger Talk, horrible just horrible, I cringed as i read this. Also for a guy who is supposed to be "classy" his coaches have sure whined a lot, he talked about the Mets job and just recently took a shot at Broxton saying he has some "scrambled eggs up there" oh and don't forget pulling back Martin from managing....overrated and not worth the money.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

So what was Shelley Long really like? ;)

Max Clarke said...

Nice sendoff. Hope he sees your blog.

Great baseball managers are processing information most people didn't even notice.

Earl Weaver wrote a couple of books about baseball, good stuff. Fans who think they could make better decisions than Torres and Weaver don't understand the game.

As Weaver put it, it's what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Gary said...

He was a terrific player, a very good broadcaster and as he's proven, a hall of fame manager. From everything I've read about him, he's an even better person. He departs along with my favorite, Bobby Cox, and the quiet man, Cito Gaston, a triumvirate bound for Cooperstown.

DodgerGirl said...

Oh, please, "Anonymous", Bronxton sucked and lost a number of games for us this year. Saying he's got scrambled eggs for brains is kind.

Rich Johnson said...

WTBS (pre 'TBS' days) did a great documentary on the '82 Braves season... pretty much following the team with a crew for the entire season. It played out for 3-4 days just before the start of the '83 season. Torre was the manager, and he was mic'd up for much of the series. Absolutley the best part was listening to Joe and Bob Gibson (pitching coach) shoot the shit during the games. I'm sure there was a ton of stuff they couldn't use. I've been a Joe Torre fan ever since.

l.a.guy said...

Joe always seemed like a class act. I grew up an Angels fan and I still remember thinking "The Mets hired our TV guy?!" (I thought the same thing when the Lakers hired Pat Riley to coach.) So anyway it turns out Torre was a damn good manager, and a perfect fit for the Yankees. As much as I wanted to hate the Yankees because of Steinbrenner, I couldn't because of Torre.

escalante blogger said...

He's now a legend. Good luck to his new ventures.

Brian said...

The guy on the right is 60 years old???

Where's the post on how Comedy keeps you young?

Wow.

Mike Barer said...

Hats off to Joe Torre. Even though there are some tempting openings (Mets, Cubs,Mariners,, I think that he deserves to call it a career.

Scott said...

In his three years here, he did more good than bad, as far as I'm concerned. Ramon Troncoso, Cory Wade and anyone who had money on game 4 of the 2008 NLCS might disagree, but on the whole, not bad. Not bad at all.

-Scott from Marina Del Rey

evwkr said...

I don't even follow baseball that closely. But it was really cool to see the team send Joe out with a win.

tb said...

And who else could've coaxed Sandy Koufax onto the stage at the Nokia theater, thanks a million for that Joe