It's been more then two years now since Joe Torre decided to leave as manager of the Yankees. I was never angry with Joe for leaving. I wasn't happy. I was even-tempered with him going out on his standards. After all, he did earn it.
Thinking about the Yankees upcoming series with their old rival Dodgers, I remembered how much I used to love Torre. Don't get me wrong, I have always been and will always be a huge Joe Girardi supporter. But in this world where we never look back and are always looking forward I never really took the time to appreciate what Joe Torre did in his time with the Yankees.
The more I thought about it, the more goosebumps I seemed to get.
Think about it. In ten or twenty years when they show “old” Yankee clips of Torre crying as he is carried off the field at Shea Stadium in 2000 after winning his third straight title. Or when, back, in 1999 he returned to Fenway Park of all places, after recovering from cancer and received a huge standing ovation from Red Sox fans!
I think the most dramatic moment Yankee fans will always remember about Torre is that first title at the old Yankee Stadium in 1996. Enter dramatic music in the background as the clips are being shown and I think you will start to get goosebumps too.
But before 1996 there were few Yankee fans who supported the decision by The Boss to hire Torre. The New York Daily News infamously dubbed him "Clueless Joe" and were convinced Torre couldn't handle the job in the city that never sleeps.
The Yankees were a seasoned removed from their first postseason appearance since 1981. Even after Torre brought the crown back to New York in '96, a first round exit in 1997 to the Indians and a slow start to the 1998 season got people off the bandwagon just as fast as they hopped on.
Well, I think we all know what happened after that. Torre, cool as always, guided the team to the first of three straight World Series titles, and never missed the playoffs during his entire stint as Yankees manager from 1996-2007.
Joe Torre did something that not even Billy Martin could do in New York. He became bigger than George Steinbrenner. Joe Torre never had to worry about his job again after the 1998 season. Now, of course, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it sure seemed like Torre's job never was in jeopardy again.
Before Torre, Steinbrenner was notorious for changing managers as often as parents have to change their baby's diaper. After Torre, Yankee Universe once again became a stable organization, not only in terms of winning, but with everything else too. Pride, respect and the best fan base in the entire world became a constant that was lacking at times during the Steinbrenner era.
Torre will always be remembered for his cool demeanor no matter what the situation. He has now brought that trait with him out to the more laid-back West Coast and brought stabilization again to another franchise steeped in pride and history. Under Torre, the Dodgers have made the playoffs in both his seasons in L.A., reaching the NLCS before losing to the Phillies both times.
It could be a long time, maybe never again, that we see a manager have the longevity and the success with the Yankees that Joe Torre had. Lets not take for granted the foundation Torre planted and left for his former catcher, and bench coach, Joe Girardi. And just like his predecessor, Buck Showalter, Torre left New York on a high note with the opportunity to win every season.