Twelve years in New York City can change a man. Twelve years changed Joe Torre, because the Joe Torre we thought we knew -- a gentleman, a man of integrity -- has been replaced by the backroom-working thug who stuck a shiv in Grady Little's liver.
|It's all about the name on the back of the jersey for Joe Torre. (Getty Images)|
Torre spent 12 years being jerked around by George, and now he's the one pulling the strings. It's not surprising in the big picture, because that's what people do. They learn from others. In New York, Torre learned how to sneak, slink and look out for No. 1.
I don't blame Torre for talking to the Dodgers, or even for becoming their manager. The Yankees got rid of him, but they didn't kill him. He can still earn a living. This is still America.
But Torre did it in a bad way. He talked to the Dodgers -- or his agent did, which is just as bad -- before the Dodgers had decided to fire Little. How do I know that's the timing, considering I wasn't there? The same way I know a bird was up there, somewhere, after it craps on my head. You don't have to see something to know it. Sometimes it just smells, and Torre's pursuit of the Dodgers' job stinks.
Similarly, the Dodgers' pursuit of Torre reeks. This isn't just about Torre being shady. This is about the Dodgers being nasty. They went after Grady Little's replacement while still employing Grady Little.
I know the emails you're about to send: Doyel, you dumbass, Grady Little was going to be fired anyway. Why shouldn't the Dodgers talk to Torre?
Because you don't know Little was going to be fired anyway. If Little was going to be fired anyway, why wasn't he fired already? I'll tell you why. Because the Dodgers knew they had a solid manager in Little, and they weren't about to fire him unless they could replace him with an even better manager like Joe Torre.
Or Joe Girardi.
Don't forget, the Dodgers also spoke to Girardi while Little was under contract. This was a treacherous triangle. The Dodgers. Torre. And Girardi too. He also talked with the Dodgers about a job that wasn't open. The last time something like this happened so brazenly, Bobby Petrino was entertaining officials from Auburn while Tommy Tuberville was still -- and is still -- the Auburn coach. Petrino was ripped. Auburn was ripped.
Torre is getting away with it, and I understand why. He's Joe Torre, that loveable old owl who navigated the alligators and snakes inside and outside his organization without becoming bitter or cruel to the media who covered him. Joe Torre earned a lifetime of goodwill, whereas Bobby Petrino -- an immoral tramp who has always flirted with other jobs -- has not. Petrino got crushed for it. Torre got away with it.
I know the emails you're about to send: Doyel you hypocrite, if you needed a job and a great media outlet wanted to talk to you, you'd listen. Even if the job wasn't technically open yet.
You're right. I'll be honest -- I would. And so would you. If I was in Torre's position and the Los Angeles Dodgers of the media world came calling, I'd answer the phone. But then I'd hope like hell nobody caught wind of it. Some things you do, and you hope nobody ever finds out. But if you get caught, you take your medicine.
What Joe Torre did to Grady Little is one of them. Save your emails, people. Even Torre knows he's a bad guy. Last Monday afternoon, media outlets began reporting that Little would be fired and replaced by Torre. That night, on the Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman asked Torre about the possibility of managing the Dodgers or Angels.
"Well, the Dodgers have a contract, I mean, a manager," Torre said. "The Angels have a very good manager (Mike Scioscia). ... That's a bad question to ask. I know what's been rumored. The local paper today is talking about (my) going to L.A. There has been a time or two that something that has been in the newspaper hasn't been true."
Within hours Little announced his resignation. Within hours of that, Torre accepted the Los Angeles job.
The timeline is irrefutable. So is the conclusion. After being jerked around for a dozen years in New York, Joe Torre went to Los Angeles and did unto others as others had done unto him.
That doesn't make Torre any worse than most people. But stupid me. I just thought he was better.