Torre moves beyond Yankees, back into postseason
Originally Published: September 25, 2008By Stephen A. Smith | ESPN.com
LOS ANGELES -- As the turnstiles turned for the last time 3,000 miles away at Yankee Stadium, ending an 85-year era of unparalleled success, Joe Torre had other things on his mind -- knowing the Yankees didn't have him on their minds.Sure, he knew Derek Jeter would have him in his thoughts, since they text one another all the time. The same could be said for Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and a few others who were basically born New York Yankees, grew up as Yankees, and prospered and won championships as Yankees -- and did all that with Torre.
But he also knew the organization probably would veer from showing praise or recognition of the man who guided it to the postseason every year from 1996 to 2007, even if the scene was the final game at Yankee Stadium. "Do I think about the players?" said Torre, the Dodgers' first-year manager, sitting in his office just days ago, palm trees and 90-degree weather waiting outside and a playoff berth on the horizon. "Of course! Some of those guys are like my children to me. But, you know, I've got some things to do. And one of them is enjoying life, which is exactly what I'm doing these days." That alone gives Torre a leg up on anyone in New York right now. Attention, folks! Joe Torre is available to be trampled on no longer. He's not to blame if the Yankees can't run, can't pitch or can barely hit. There are no flights scheduled for Tampa, Fla. No meetings scheduled with one of the Steinbrenners to decide his future. And no need for polls determining whether Torre should stay or go. He's already gone. Torre's imminent appearance in the postseason with the Dodgers proves as much, just as the Yankees' omission from next month's baseball festivities crystallizes his absence. But if you're looking for Torre to rub salt in the proverbial wound, to provide that sly wink with "How ya like me now?" written all over it, don't bother. "That just ain't Joe's style," Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said. "But don't think a small part of him doesn't feel that way." Nearly a year after his unceremonious departure from New York, the former Yankees manager's occasional body twitches and stoic demeanor pretty much validate the stinging effect a kick in the backside inevitably leaves behind. Twelve years 12 playoff appearances. Ten American League East division crowns two wild-card appearances. Six trips to the World Series four world championships. "Then a contract offer that basically implied I needed motivation to win," Torre said, shaking his head at the Yankees' one-year offer. "I was really put off by that. Maybe I always will be." He wasn't finished. "I don't miss the situation," Torre said, alluding to his former job security, which in recent years was a constant topic of discussion. "I still talk to a lot of people there. "But again, we don't compete against them. So I know there's a lot of people who think I'm pleased with the fact that they're [eliminated from the postseason], but I can't feel that way. [Current Yankees manager] Joe Girardi coached for me. I could never root against him or those players. The relationships are just too strong. But still, I think health-wise and peace-of-mind-wise, this is a better situation for me."
Guang Niu/Getty ImagesIn his first season as the Dodgers' manager, Joe Torre has L.A. on the verge of making the playoffs.
When you make a decision to either play or manage for somebody, winning ballgames is the most important thing in the world. It's what truly motivates you. That's why you come to work. You don't look at the clock. You're here early; you leave late.
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