He?s been able to manage workhorses, basket cases and some of the biggest egos in sports, and he?s done so with an abundance of success and a case full of trophies. Needless to say, a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction is certainly within reach following his retirement.
Having spent 12 years as the Yankees? skipper and currently in his third year with the Dodgers, Torre always required honesty of his players. But beyond that, his managerial philosophy is to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. He?s had to deal with such a diverse array of players that it?s no wonder he?s had to be adaptable.
In the case of pitcher David Wells in the late 1990s, who Torre described as a "colorful nuisance" in his book, The Yankee Years, Torre?s patience was tested. Overreacting on the field, arguing with the coaching staff, gaining too much weight and getting into trouble, Wells would have been a headache for any manager. But he sure could pitch.
And then there was Alex Rodriguez, the flashy diva who came to New York in 2004 looking to cement his own personal legacy. His selfishness went against the team mentality the Yankees of the 1990s had built and brought about severe criticism from New York fans and players alike. That, coupled with rumored jealousy of captain Derek Jeter, caused the clubhouse to be anything but cohesive.
In Los Angeles, Torre oversees one of the most controversial players in baseball in Manny Ramirez. So far, Ramirez has kept his lackadaisical playing style and goofy antics to a minimum, an aggravating side of the slugger that most Boston fans don?t miss.
Some former players complain about Torre?s style, saying that every player should be treated the same. Gary Sheffield, who played under Torre from 2004-06, had a problem with different treatment for different players. He accused Torre of treating black players worse than others in the ballclub with the exception of Jeter who, Sheffield pointed out, is of both black and white descent.
Jeter and the rest of the Yankees? "core four," Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, perhaps know Torre best. Having spent over a decade under Torre?s management, they may not have all gotten the same treatment, but they all share the same respect for Torre?s understanding and ability to make difficult decisions under any circumstance.
With Torre, there are rules, sure, but no cookie-cutter formula. Everyone under his regime is treated according to who they are and how they behave, not unlike how many parents treat their different children.
Jeter, who considers Torre a father figure, spoke to the media about their relationship over the weekend, before having to play against his old manager for the first time. Torre was a mentor to Jeter, and the two still speak regularly.
When asked about what Torre had taught him over the years, Jeter replied that in relationships with people, above all else, fairness was key.
In other news, Red Sox manager Terry Franconca discusses how the Sox can stay afloat in the face of mounting injuries, Warren Sapp scolds Albert Haynesworth?s uncooperative attitude and John Isner details how he survived the longest tennis match in history with a little help from a friend.
"The way he handles people, how he deals with people — you don?t treat everyone the same. You treat everyone fairly."
–Derek Jeter, on northjersey.com, on what he?s learned from Joe Torre, before playing against him for the first time
"I mean, if a body part's not missing, you're showing up for division games. Are you kidding me?"
—Warren Sapp, in the Washington Post, on Albert Haynesworth not wanting to play for the Redskins because he doesn?t like their new defense
"In our language, when we say 'We kill you', it means 'We're not happy with you'."
–Nigeria's World Cup team spokesman Idah Peterside, in the AFP, on death threats received by player Sani Kaita after Kaita was ejected from a World Cup game that Nigeria went on to lose
"On the plane on the way to the World Cup, Carlitos [Tevez] made me listen to their first two albums. I have to say I wasn't expecting much but it is some of the best material I have ever heard. They are absolutely amazing. Their songs are incredible."
–Argentina soccer player Lionel Messi, in the Daily Mail, on his favorite band … Oasis
"I'd like to meet Mr. Anelka and give him a piece of my mind as a mother."
—Germaine Domenech, the mother of French soccer coach Raymond Domenech, to the AFP, after Nicolas Anelka insulted the coach and refused to apologize, forcing his exclusion from the team and the subsequent mutiny of the rest of the French players
"A blind pig will always find an acorn."
—Tommy Lasorda in the broadcast booth during Saturday's Yankees vs. Dodgers game, on Reggie Jackson?s three home runs in the 1977 World Series
"It's not like we don't love [Dustin] Pedroia and Victor [Martinez], but if you get a [Jon] Lester out there for nine innings, it takes the burden away a little bit."
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona, on NESN.com, about how the Sox will stay alive despite injuries
"I kind of like it. Boxing is going so bad, if Don King sees that, he will put that in Vegas. Those are two big boys."
–Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, in the Sun Times, on Carlos Zambrano?s confrontation with Derrek Lee in the Cubs' dugout
"I heard if u hit a kardashian u win a championship.. Kim k holla me!!! I need ya for 17 min."
–Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson, via Twitter, on the Kardashian women being good luck charms for athletes. Lawson later denied that the tweet was posted by him.
"Andy just brought me all sorts of stuff. There was three boxes of pizza, all sorts of chicken and mashed potatoes, anything. I would have eaten 12 Big Macs."
—John Isner to reporters, on Andy Roddick bringing him sustenance after the second day of his marathon tennis match against Nicolas Mahut