Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No joy in Muddville

It looks like I will owe someone lunch pretty soon. I made a friendly wager with a blogging buddy over the baseball playoffs and so far my picks haven’t panned out.
I put all my money on the Yankees to go back to the World Series this year only to see them get bounced out in the first round by the Cleveland Indians. And in the National League I was betting on the Arizona Diamondbacks who fell to the Colorado Rockies in Round 2.
The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since they benched Chuck Knoblach in 2001. I’ve referred to this in the past as The Knoblauch Curse.
I was betting that this might be the year that the Yankees would finally overcome that curse, but it was not to be. The team is little recognizable from the Yankee squad that won three consecutive World Series titles between 1998-2000. Only Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte remain. And I suppose you can count Roger Clemens who came in at the end of that era.
But the other big factor is Joe Torre, the manager, who has been at the helm since 1996, the first year the Yankees won the World Series during their most recent streak.
But now that Torre failed to guide the Yanks past the first round of the playoffs again there is much talk that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner will can him.
That would be an incredibly stupid move and guarantee that the Yankees would drop out of playoff contention for the forseeable future while they struggle to rebuild from the ground up.
Torre is currently the 8th winningest manager in Major League Baseball history with 2,067 victories for a .539 percent Win-Loss percentage. He has managed to get the Yankees to the playoffs every year since 1996 and made it to the World Series six times, winning four. That is an incredible managerial record any way to spin it.
Steinbrenner should take a lesson from history and look at a manager even higher up on the win list than Torre - Sparky Anderson, the skipper for the Cinncinnatti Reds during the hey-day of the Big Red Machine. Sparky led the Reds to four National League Championships in eight years and two World Series victories. But in 1978 the Reds management decided to shake things up and sent Sparky off to the struggling Detroit Tigers. It took a few years, but by 1984 Sparky was back in the World Series with a championship team while the Reds floundered during that period.
If the Yankees stick with Torre and continue to ride the wave he has been on they might pick up a few more pennants and World Series crowns before it is all over. But waves like that don’t come along everyday so they had best not jump off too soon.

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