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Joe Torre Doesn’t Look Like Such a Genius Anymore

It bothered me that Joe Torre got so much credit for the Dodgers making it to the playoffs, and even more after they swept the Cubs. The amounts of praise he received was nauseating. There was talk about what a calming influence he provided, how he was able to tie together the two groups of the team — the veterans and youngsters — in a way that Grady Little couldn’t. All this talk was about the same manager who presided over an eight-game losing streak that included sweeps by the Phillies and Nationals at the end of August that all but had the Dodgers eliminated from the playoffs. To me, the Dodgers surging and making the playoffs was about two factors more than anything else: the acquisition of Manny Ramirez and the collapse of the Diamondbacks. People forget that it wasn’t so much about the Dodgers playing fantastic ball at the end of the season so much as it was about Arizona’s inability to win; the Dodgers didn’t even have to do anything on their part to clinch. Additionally, it became painfully evident how dependent the Dodgers’ offense was on Manny to score runs in the five-game series loss to the Phillies.

So let me ask this: what changed from the Cubs series to the Phillies series for the Dodgers? Did the roster change outside of Saito’s deactivation and Kuo’s activation? Were there any significant injuries? Were there any changes to the coaching staff? Were the Phillies a better team than the Cubs? It’s pretty safe to answer “no” to all those questions. The only thing that changed from the NLDS against the Cubs to the NLCS against the Phillies was the performance of the players. It’s pretty hard to win when Chad Billingsley pitches you out of the game by the 3rd inning on two occasions. It’s pretty hard to win when Cory Wade and Jonathan Broxton give up long balls in relief. It’s pretty hard to win when the bats of Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, and Blake DeWitt go invisible for the most part.

Look, I’d love to place some blame on Joe Torre and make him accountable for the NLCS loss. About the only thing I can say I disagree with was his move of Kemp to 7th in the lineup and then a subsequent benching in the following game — that to me is a display of panic when you’re benching one of your best players. Outside of that, what could Torre really have done to make a difference in the series? Not a whole lot. The bottom line is that the manager is at the mercy of his players with his success tied to their performance. Torre never should have received the credit he did for the Dodgers’ surge to the playoffs and their sweep of the Cubs. At the same time, he shouldn’t receive the blame for the team’s horrid performance against the Phillies. In the end, it all comes down to the performance of the players.

And just for kicks, our man and resident Philly fan Hop-a-Long was at Dodger Stadium for the clincher and was able to capture the moment on video.

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Joe Torre Has a Blog

I was going pretty crazy when I saw Joe Torre’s State Farm Commercial. It’s a humorous spot that features Torre surfing, doing yoga, walking with a lap dog in Beverly Hills, and pretty much everything else that’s considered trendy in LA. Seeing how Torre’s already embracing the LA culture, why not go the max and join the technological revolution too, right? That’s exactly what he’s done — starting a blog that’s hosted by MLB.com. Even if it’s not penned by Torre, his words and subject matter are pretty humorous.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about LA culture. It’s not just a TV cliché: People really DO carry pocket dogs around with them wherever they go. I have no idea where you’d put these little yip-yaps when you go to the restroom, or even why they’re such a hot accessory; then again, I just moved from a town where people buy color-coordinated pepper spray cans. But I do know it’s a real phenomenon; I learned about it first-hand when I found myself walking down Rodeo Drive with this little white Maltese or Pomeranian named Butch under my arm.

I really don’t care if Torre’s not punching in the keys on his blog — that’s some funny stuff right there. Where do you put those yip-yaps when you go to the restroom? A town where people buy color-coordinated pepper spray cans? Attention Gilbert Arenas: there’s a new sports blogger out there who could be giving you a run for your money.

Joe Torre Surfs, Does Yoga in State Farm Commercial

I knew that Joe Torre got a ton of press because, well, let’s face it — he was the manager of the Yankees during their superb run from ’96-’03. But I didn’t know he was much of a pitchman, unlike say, Greg Oden. Even though the last time Torre appeared in a commercial was 1985, he was immediately cast in a State Farm Insurance commercial upon arriving in LA. Anyone who watches Dodger games has surely seen this great spot, but I’m not sure it’s been out there for a national audience, so here it is:

The yoga scene is tight, but for my money, it doesn’t get much better than Joe Torre surfing in the Pacific Ocean, while wearing his Dodger cap no less. Dude, it’s OK to take it off when you’re in the water, OK?

Sick of the Overhyped Managerial Jobs

When told over the weekend that the Patriots/Colts game received a ridiculous amount of media hype during the week, I was skeptical. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason why, but I didn’t feel like I got the full, Super-Bowl caliber dose of Pats/Colts all week. Then I figured it out: there was so much attention given to the managerial hirings in baseball that it clouded the attention given to the football game. I’m glad that we’re probably done talking about those openings being filled because they didn’t deserve anywhere near the hype they received. Of course, I’m talking about the hiring of Joe Girardi and Joe Torre.

I can’t believe people are making a big deal over the Dodgers hiring Joe Torre. That’s exactly what LA wants — headlines and buzz. The news appeared on the front page of the local paper. No, not a big-time player getting signed, just a new manager being hired. Oh yeah, while another one, to whom ownership pledged allegiance the day the season ended, was disgustingly kicked out the door. There are two dynamics of the hire I didn’t like: the fact that Little was committed to and then essentially fired, and then all the headlines Torre got. As my friend Ben Maller joked, are people going to pay big bucks to watch Torre make a double-switch? Exactly.

Unless Torre convinces the Dodgers to up their payroll to $200 million, his presence won’t make a big difference. Oh yeah, and as for all those A-Rod to follow Torre to LA rumors? Bullcrap. Has everyone forgotten that this is the same manager who batted what will wind up being the all-time home run leader in baseball history 8th in a playoff game? Now why would A-Rod want to follow that? If Alex is going to an LA team, it’s certainly not the Dodgers. And last I checked, Bob Abreu and Derek Jeter weren’t following Torre either, so what’s the big deal. There isn’t one. It’s all just a big farce that they want you to believe is important.