While taking nothing away from the Dominican Republic’s impressive showing in the WBC thus far, more than a few of us couldn’t help but wonder if Team USA wouldn’t have fared better if more American-born superstars
fucked over their employers like David Wright took an interest in the competition. Of course, that’s only the part of the problem, as former NY Times baseball columnist turned back acne expert Murray Chass has another, perhaps more appropriate goat to blame ; the indifferent management of Joe Torre. “Despite the Americans’ obvious problems hitting and scoring runs, Torre managed with the imagination of a tree trunk…I think Bobby Valentine could’ve done better.”
Torre managed as if he had Murderers’ Row in his lineup, forgoing any kind of small-ball strategy and waiting for a three-run home run. Of course, to slug a three-run home run, you need to get two runners on base, and the Americans had trouble doing that in the final two games against the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
With the way David Wright was hitting, his absence due to injury (yes, he was injured in the WBC, though he could have incurred that injury anywhere) hurt the USA team. Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer and Giancarlo Stanton didn’t produce enough to overcome his loss.
Maybe Torre was slow to recognize his deficit. Maybe, coming in the last two games, it didn’t give Torre enough time to adjust. Good managers, though, can adjust quickly and adapt to new circumstances.
But what do I know? Torre once told me I didn’t know anything about baseball, and neither, for that matter, did any other writer.