Without question, some of baseball’s very best managers are leading their teams to victory in the 2009 post-season.
Joe Torre is one of them.
What makes him so effective? Article after article notes his steadiness at the helm, his patience, and abiding optimism. But when the playoffs start, he has learned to not hesitate in following his gut.
Apparently, he didn’t like how Randy Wolf was aiming the ball in game one against the Cardinals, so Torre pulled him after just a few innings. That is leadership, as I see it.
Torre didn’t rely on hope or allow sentiment to dissuade him from bringing in the proverbial hook.
Wolf had been a major factor in many Dodger wins during 2009, and his competitiveness and durability earned him the leading role against the Cards. But his post-season inexperience, or perhaps the fact he was having an off-day, kept him from bringing his best.
The astute Torre saw this, and citing one of his mentors and colleagues, Don Zimmer, who urged doing something when you think of it and not waiting, Torre pulled the trigger.
That move not only kept the Dodgers in the contest, which of course they won, but it showed everyone the skipper was ready to do everything in his power to help his team to prevail.
When players say they’re learning a ton from Torre, I believe them. Managers, everywhere, should study his decisions and style.
For most of the season his mantra could be, There is a tomorrow. He doesn’t let any defeat haunt him or his players.
In the post-season, that quickly changes to There is no tomorrow. the time has come for managing utterly in the moment, decisively putting victory, first.
That’s what he did with Wolf, who probably wanted to stay in the game.
Instead of insulting Wolf by replacing him, Torre was really complimenting the starter, tacitly saying: You’re enough of a veteran and team player to understand what I’m doing and not get offended.
That’s simply great management.