November 3, 1995. Joe Torre, who had a career managerial record of 894-1003, was named as the 31st manager in Yankees history. Buck Showalter was let go and a new era of Yankees baseball had begun.
Torre was not exactly given a warm welcome upon arriving in the Bronx. The press and fans alike were perplexed by the hire, as Torre had been fired by three different ball clubs (Mets in 1981, Braves in 1984, and the Cardinals after the 1995 season) and had not even been with a pennant-winning team through more than 4,000 Major League games on his resumé. Those same people had felt that Showalter had done a decent job before being shown the door. Boy, were they about to be told otherwise.
On October 13, 1996, the Yankees won the pennant for the first time in 15 years, an eternity in Yankees universe. The Yankees fought back from a 2-0 series deficit in the World Series against the Braves and won the World Series for the first time in 18 years.
The rest is history, as Torre guided the Yankees to another dynasty, winning three World Series titles in four years. This was their three-peat from 1998-2000 and they won the pennant again in 2001, though they fell just short in Game 7 of the World Series that year.
Joe Torre and new Yankees skipper Aaron Boone actually spent 71 games together (regular season and playoffs) in 2003 when Brian Cashman facilitated a trade for the All-Star third baseman, as he sent Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning and cash to the Reds in exchange for Boone. The most famous aspect of their truncated partnership was, of course, this beautiful moment right here.
A lot of baseball fans and pundits have argued that Torre inherited a great team when he was introduced to the Yankees by Steinbrenner, and that is not without merit. Yes, Torre inherited the “Core Four.” He inherited Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, and David Cone. John Wetteland and Wade Boggs were both near the end of their careers but still performed at high levels in 1996.
But if that is the case, then why did Torre continually outperform other managers who had comparable talent on their teams? He outwitted Bobby Cox twice in the World Series; you know, a manager who had Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Andruw Jones, and three Hall of Famers in his rotation (Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz). For any manager in baseball, the primary responsibility is to get the most out of the amalgamation of talent in the clubhouse, and Torre did just that. He fostered a culture of trust and credence and allowed his players to don the pinstripes and be themselves.
For Aaron Boone, the circumstances are similar. He is inheriting a team that previous manager Joe Girardi did a very effective job with overall. Girardi was let go because of his intensity and his stringent demeanor. Boone is known for his nonchalance and his communication skills that are superior to Girardi’s.
This is a Yankees team that came within one game of the World Series last year, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. If yesterday’s game was any indication, this is a team that could set all kinds of records this year. Torre was criticized for his unappealing record as a manager when he was hired almost 22 years ago and some critics have pointed to Aaron Boone’s general lack of experience as a Major League Baseball manager. They both inherited excellent teams and Joe Torre was able to engineer a sustainable team for 12 years. It’s now up to Boone to prove he can successfully hold the torch that has been passed to him.
Boone made all of the correct decisions yesterday as he pulled Luis Severino from the game when his pitch count was approaching triple digits (91) through 5.2 innings with a runner on first and a lefty (Curtis Granderson) due up. He inserted Chad Green and Dellin Betances to finish up the game. Now, with center fielder Aaron Hicks headed to the 10-day DL, we will see how he handles injuries to key players. These are things he will have to learn to handle correctly and I have all the faith in the world that he will do just fine.