Torre holds managerial forum in Taiwan
Tells group of baseball officials to lead with common sense
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
03/12/10 11:20 PM EST
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Joe Torre’s managerial philosophy, evolving from motherly advice at home as much as his 6,300 games in uniform, was passed along to 50 coaches and baseball officials Saturday morning in the Joe Torre Forum held at Tienmou Stadium.
If the Dodgers’ three-game goodwill series in Taiwan is nothing else, it is a chance for baseball to further its growth in Asia. Taiwan has already produced a handful of Major Leaguers — Torre having managed three in New York and Los Angeles — and MLB sees the nation as a growth market.
And the nation’s baseball leadership views Torre as the manager’s manager, the ideal teacher for those trying to prepare the next wave of exports to the Major Leagues.
Despite the quick turnaround from night game to morning seminar, Torre’s sense of humor was sharp when asked the secret to being a good coach.
“Have good players,” he said.
He opened his presentation with what he called simple, basic principles of managing people.
“I try to deal with players the way I wanted to be managed as a player,” he said. “There’s no magic formula. Manage with common sense. Don’t ever forget what it was like as a player. They are all different people with one goal. You can treat them differently, but fairly.”
Torre said managers have the right to expect hard work, preparation and a team approach from their players.
“My mom used to say that you earn everything you get and nobody gives you anything for nothing,” he said. “I tell my players, ‘You don’t always control wins and losses, but you can control how you go about your business.’ I always felt you play for the player in the locker next to you. Perform and think as a team. When you win, everybody gets the same ring.”
Drawing a comparison to a parent raising a child in today’s society, Torre said managers have had to change in the way they interact with their players.
“You used to tell them to do something and when they’d ask why, you’d say, ‘Because I told you so.’ With free agency, that doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “The manager needs to have the ability to tell a player what to do and explain why, so if the same situation comes up again, you don’t want them not to know what to do. You develop trust that way. And respect. There’s no magic dust. It’s hard work.”
In explaining his success, Torre not only drew from his years with the Yankees, where he managed four World Series championships, but from some of the lean years with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals.
“The Yankees won four World Series when I was there, but I learned my managing skills long before the Yankees,” he said. “I got to the Yankees and the work ethic that I believed in started to be successful for me. Most of the work was done before I got there.”
Torre mentioned Atlanta’s Bobby Cox, St. Louis’ Tony La Russa and the Angels’ Mike Scioscia among the managers he admires because of “the way their teams behave.”
Torre said he tells his players to “think small and big things happen. We get excited with players who hit home runs or pitchers that get a lot of strikeouts. The game is won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Our team made some mistakes last night and that’s why we came out on the short end.”
In Friday night’s series opener, a team of Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars defeated a Dodgers split-squad, 5-2, with the Dodgers getting only three singles. Included in Torre’s morning audience was W.S. Lu, introduced as the manager of the winning CPBL All-Stars.
“He should be sitting up here,” Torre suggested.
Torre praised the “disciplined” play of the Taiwan All-Stars Friday night and suggested that the level of play in this island nation was “better than Triple-A.”
“They played very flawless in the way they beat us. Stay with us. We’ll win a game here sooner or later,” Torre joked. “I told our players they are representing our country and MLB, and we want to show people how we play the game. We are proud to wear the uniform of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
Told that the Taiwan national team was ranked No. 5 in the world, with the United States third, Torre said: “Based on last night’s game, I’m surprised we’re third.”
Torre was questioned on his communication skills, which he boiled down to one word.
“Honesty,” he said.
While Torre was speaking, two of his players did an autograph signing at the MLB Store downtown. Friday night starting pitcher Eric Stults and infielder Jamey Carroll were met by a mob scene when they arrived for the hour session.
About 300 fans were in line for the event, and the players were presented glass statues as gifts for their appearance.