Joe Torre is the best manager in baseball.
I am not going to into what he has done in the past with the Yankees. That is history.
Let's talk about yesterday with the Dodgers. There was Joe, maneuvering his pitchers as if they were chess pieces, like he does a lot and to the constant consternation of many a fan...yet this time he was doing it in the fifth inning.
And, he was doing it with middle relievers that others might have sent down and away long ago.
Ronald Belisario, a wayward guy who has been up and down all season, and George Sherrill, who has just been down, stopped the Milwaukee Brewers from scoring when it looked like they were on their way to a big inning.
It wasn't as if Torre had great faith in them, I am sure. Instead, he was doing what any good manager—whether baseball or business—would do: he was relying on his employees to work hard and get done the job they were hired to do.
And, as in any business, they, along with the rest of the Dodgers bullpen—six pitchers in all—shut down the Brewers for the rest of the game, assuring the Blue a win and a sweep at the most crucial time of the season.
That is what Torre knows better than anyone in the game: That is it not how you start but how you finish...and he can smell the finish.
He also understands that his team—beset by an owner's pending divorce, a lack of true power, a bullpen that has lost more games in the late innings than just about any other team, a lame-duck, steroid-bitten leftfielder, and a bunch of new players—can still make the playoffs.
Anything can happen in baseball and often does. Torre gets it and is not afraid to gamble, maneuver, do whatever it takes to win the game.
The Dodgers should be out of it just in terms of lost confidence. They have lost ninth inning leads to the Yankees, Giants, Padres, and others and their vaunted bullpen, once led by the hard-throwing Broxton (who didn't even pitch yesterday) has let down the scrappy team too many times.
This is where Torre comes in. With a wizened calm that comes from player and managerial experience, he reassures his team and teaches by example what it means to win and stay in the game.