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A Thought On Facing Torre And Mattingly

Let me try to articulate the strangeness of this.

I'm too young to remember Mattingly in his prime.  I was beginning to become aware of baseball as something more than playing in Little League in '94 and '95.  But Mattingly to me then was a walking legend, and his seeming unstoppability in the '95 playoffs underscored his greatness in my young mind.  A lifelong Yankee in an era when being a lifelong Yankee seemed impossible.

This means I grew up with Derek Jeter at shortstop, and Joe Torre at the helm.

I have rarely loved Torre.  He's a by-the-book (but the The Book), trust-your-veterans, follow-the-plan, baseball-wisdom manager.  He found his first success with the Yankees trusting a starter-Rivera-Wetteland pattern that morphed into a starter-Nelson/Stanton-Rivera pattern.  Torre tattooed that on the back of his hand, and every year he tried to sub in a new name for an old name.

Joe Torre gave Miguel Cairo significant playing time at 1B.  He burned out the arms of useful players like Scott Proctor and Tom Gordon.  His formulaic bullpen management and refusal to bunt on Curt Schilling helped give the Red Sox their first title in 86 years.  He batted Arod 8th in a playoff game.

But before all of that, I remember him crying and being carried around the field in '96.  I still remember him standing with George Steinbrenner, holding the World Series trophy like he didn't really believe it was there.  For most of my life, he was unflappable and reliable as clockwork.

Of course, I've seen Torre and Mattingly in Dodger Blue many times in the last couple seasons.  But there was a shot of Torre in the dugout last night while Mariano was on the mound that gave me chills.  There's a lot of history there, and a lot of hard feelings, too.  I don't know if it can all come out right, but I hope it does.