I recently suggested that USA TODAY founder Al Neuharth, arguably Joe Torre's biggest critic, should be big enough to admit that he was wrong about the man who led the Yankees to 12 straight playoff berths and four World Series titles. This year, of course, Torre guided the L.A. Dodgers to the postseason--and they currently enjoy a 2-0 lead over the favored Chicago Cubs--while the Yankees sans Torre did not qualify for postseason play.
The print edition of Friday's USA TODAY contains Neuharth's annual MLB playoff picks and if Neuharth is a bit late this time around--the playoffs have already begun--at least he is indeed big enough to finally concede that he was wrong about Torre:
When Joe Torre was dumped as New York Yankee manager last October, I said good riddance. I had jumped on Joe often because he failed to make the World Series for seven straight years, despite the highest paid players in baseball.
But he did lead the Yankees to the playoffs for 12 straight years. In this first Torre-less year, they packed their bags in September and went home before the playoffs began.
Torre, in a new, three-year, $13 million job running the Los Angeles Dodgers, is in the playoffs and a serious World Series contender.
When you mess up, you should fess up. I did, so I do.
In downgrading Torre, I wrote the Yankees have so much talent that even the batboy should be able to manage them well enough to get into the playoffs each year.
This year, they didn't make the playoffs, but it wasn't the batboy's fault. New Manager Joe Girardi must take the blame.
Neuharth wavered heavily with his picks, choosing "maybe" Boston or Tampa Bay in the AL and "maybe" L.A. or Chicago in the NL. He concluded, "If you're glad that I'm not as cocksure about my picks as I used to be, maybe you should give thanks to Torre."
I give Neuharth credit for stepping up, unlike the Yankees' Hank Steinbrenner, who made excuses for his team and tried to belittle what Torre accomplished this season. No one is right 100% of the time but it takes a person of character to admit that he was wrong. Bravo, Al Neuharth!