The slumpting Mets might be just what Joe Torre and the Dodgers need right now. Torre is having a bad streak. His team has lost six of seven and talk around the Dodgers centers more on Torre's future than mention of playoffs. Torre will not be fired. The future Hall of Fame manager has earned the right to control his own destinty--to a point--so that if he isn't wanted back he'll know and will leave with grace.
That was not the case in 1981 when Frank Cashen fired him from the Mets, Torre's first managerial job. Always thought to be a player's manager, many of his players were not upset to see him go. He was 286-420 in just under five seasons.
A sampling of the comments from my Newsday analysis dated Oct. 4, 1981:
Catcher John Stearns: ``I had some differences with Joe Torre. I'm sorry to see him go, but let's face it, this has to be a positive move. This has been a losing situation for a long time. You have to do something.''
Catcher Alex Trevino: ``It was obvious that there was no discipline around here and something had to be done.''
Pitcher Neil Allen: He was a good man, but not a good manager.''
Outfielder Lee Mazzilli: ``That big brother stuff between me and him was overdone. Hey, you know what they say. You get hired, you get fired.''
Oddly, that was the type of spirit Torre wanted to instill in playeres like Mazzilli. He wanted them to be hard. On his final day as Mets manager, they were hard on him. Of course, Torre's critics have all become `where are they now?' figures in baseball history while Torre will be considered a legend for his tenure with the Yankees.