Torre's winning legacy
|Over 12 seasons, Joe Torre managed New York to 12 playoff appearances. His consistent success has him in high standing on the Bombers' all-time managerial wins list.|
Nowhere did the news of Torre's departure have more of an impact than in Cleveland on Thursday night, where the managers of the Red Sox and Indians were preparing their clubs for Game 5 of the ALCS. Cleveland leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can wrap up its third AL pennant since 1995 with a victory at Jacobs Field."I just actually heard about it a couple minutes ago," Francona said. "I guess I hope that however it came down -- and nobody knows except Joe and whoever he was dealing with -- I hope Joe is happy. He deserves respect. And I think you're going to hear people in baseball, in every area of baseball, say very, very kind, respectful things about Joe the next couple days. They're all deserved."
"I've got all the respect in the world for him as a person, player and manager," said Wedge, whose Indians beat Torre's Yanks last week in a four-game AL Division Series. "I believe a person who's accomplished all he's accomplished should manage as long as he wants to. He's one of the greatest managers of all time. What's as important as anything is he treats people the way they ought to be treated. But it is what it is."Torre had an 18-year career catching and playing first base for three teams, all in the National League, and was a .297 lifetime hitter. But those Braves, Cardinals and Mets clubs never made the postseason. His 26-year managerial career began in 1977 with the Mets, and ironically he also managed the Braves and Cardinals, only making the playoffs once during 14 seasons with those three teams -- in 1982 when Atlanta was swept by St. Louis in the NL Championship Series. His 12-year tenure with the Yanks that began in 1996, matches the Cardinals' Tony La Russa, for the second longest managing spans in the Major Leagues behind Cox. Torre's Yankees winning percentage of .605 (1,173-767) brought his career numbers to .539 (2,067-1,770). But the team's player payroll consistently has been the highest in the Major Leagues, topping off at $215 million this past season, one at the end of which they lost to $61 million Cleveland. In the end, the combination of the winning and the money spent made expectations almost unattainable. "Joe Torre will be a Hall of Fame manager," said Jim Bowden, the general manager of the Nationals, when reached by phone in Washington, D.C. "One of the best of our time. I wish him the best of success. It's a decision that he made for his family. I respect the Yankees for making a decision that is the best interest of their club. I hope it works out for both of them." Nationals manager Manny Acta believes Torre has become a symbol of the Yankees.
"I think it is a delicate situation," Acta said. "The fans of our generation, whenever they hear Yankees, they think Torre-Jeter. If this is the end, he leaves a great legacy."
Kenny Williams, the general manager of the White Sox, whose own team has been on the skids since winning the 2005 World Series, summed up the mood best for nearly everybody."We should all be so fortunate to have accomplished what he has in the game and been as classy in doing so," he said.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Carrie Muskat, Scott Merkin, Anthony Castrovince, Jordan Bastian, Mark Bowman, Ian Browne and Bill Ladson contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.