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Overcoming Torre is Team USA’s biggest win yet

Mar 10, 2013, 7:57 PM EDT

Joe Torre Getty Images

Four sacrifice bunt attempts in one game.

I’d be pretty disgusted if it were the Marlins trying such a thing to beat the Mets in mid-August. But, no, that’s what Team USA did on Sunday on its way to topping Canada 9-4.

Technically, it will go into the books at three sacrifice bunt attempts, since Shane Victorino merely fouled back his one attempt before later striking out in the seventh. The first two were successful, the second especially so. The first, coming in the second, was put down by Adam Jones with two on and none out. No runs followed, though. Ben Zobrist‘s bunt in the fourth resulted in a Taylor Green error, scoring a run and opening the door for a two-run inning.

The last bunt was a huge flop, with Zobrist popping one up for the first out in the eighth. Fortunately, Jones bailed the team out afterwards, delivering a two-run double to put Team USA on top for good.

So, yes, everything worked out in the end. Even though Joe Torre’s team tried to give away four outs. Even though Giancarlo Stanton, the country’s (and maybe the world’s) best power hitter, sat out in favor of Shane Victorino. Even though Torre was more worried about making sure everyone got into the game than trying to win it.

And that last part may be the biggest problem of all. Joe Torre works for Major League Baseball. He made commitments to teams in return for acquiring the services of players. While the managers of Japan and the Dominican Republic are doing the best they can, within the WBC’s pitcher usage rules, to win their games, Torre is going above and beyond; making sure everyone gets a turn, not using a reliever after he’s already warmed up once and not letting any of his true relievers pitch more than an inning.

Of course, Torre isn’t exactly a tactical genius even when he doesn’t have to deal with such limitations. Witness today’s eighth-inning gem to intentionally walk light-hitting left-hander Pete Orr in a 5-4 game to load the bases for a left-handed-hitting pinch-hitter. Given that it meant a walk could force in a run, I doubt it improved the U.S.’s chances of staying ahead in the eighth. What it definitely did do is guarantee that Joey Votto would bat in the ninth, with Justin Morneau due up fourth, something that might have made a big difference had the U.S. offense not finally found itself and, absent any sac bunt attempts, piled on four runs in the top of the inning.

At age 73, this is probably Torre’s last time in a dugout. He was pretty close to a Hall of Famer as a player and he’s certainly going in as a manager after all of his success with the Yankees. And deservedly so. It’d be a nice victory lap for him if Team USA could somehow win the World Baseball Classic in its third try. Torre, though, needs to back off a bit, because he’s really hurting the cause right now.

  1. chill1184 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    So I guess #fireTorre or if the US lost #blameTorre?

    • skids003 - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      Joe Torre’s record is much better than Mathew Pouliet.

      • scoocha - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Absolutely true. I guess MP would rather teams just wish for their player to hit a 3 run homer instead of strategically move the players around the bases. Plus, pitchers are always the best fielders as well. Do yourself a favor MP, watch the 2006 WS again, Detroit pitchers had 4 or 5 errors.

  2. hojo20 - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Something is wrong @ ESPN. This WBC game has Spanish people talking. Press “2″ for English…

    • historiophiliac - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      Do you not understand the game if someone’s not explaining it?

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      yeah,wtf ?

      • fanofevilempire - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        the score is English.

      • mcsnide - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM

        Pretty sure the score was posted in Arabic.

  3. eatitfanboy - Mar 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    So YOU”RE the guy who cares about the WBC! I kept hearing there was someone out there taking it seriously, I just couldn’t believe it.

    • jwbiii - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:10 PM

      Many commenters here like baseball.

      • eatitfanboy - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        I was being sarcastic. I love baseball. I just thought the tone of this article was a little over the top for what is really little more than a glorified exhibition. If you read this article without knowing what he was talking about, you’d think he was breaking down the seventh game of the world series.

        I actually think Torre is right to play as many guys as he can. You’ve asked these guys to give up a big chunk of their usual pre-season routine, at least show them respect of playing them.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:38 PM

        I think that was exactly the point of the article: the US treats it like a silly exhibition game, while the rest of the world is treating it much more like a world series. But then, if the US doesn’t win, people are up in arms about it all.

        You, EatIt, of course have a valid point too: these players are giving up a big chunk of spring training to do the WBC, so they need to get their reps. Yet making sure everyone gets their reps is not the same as trying to win the games.

      • scoocha - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        Baseball’s great but honestly, the WBC sucks. Don’t let MLB and ESPN force you to pay attention.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      Why do people feel the need to share with us how little they care about the WBC?

      • eatitfanboy - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Why does anyone feel the need to share their opinions about anything? Are yours’ the only opinions that count? See my response to jwbill if you are curious about what actual point of my original comment was.

    • blacksables - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Watching the DR vs PR. Both have advanced to the next round and it doesn’t matter who wins.

      I think someone forgot to tell the fans.

      You know, the people that count.

      • paperlions - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:57 PM

        Those two countries (yeah, I know PR is not a country, but “entities” or “states” seems weird, and the DR isn’t even an entire island…though their dominion includes many small islands….well, PR has their fair share of smaller islands as well…point is…ah, fuck it….) play each other all the time in international competitions (e.g. Caribbean series, which includes Mexico and Venezuela)….so there is pride there in just beating the other guys. For those countries, and their fans, international baseball competitions are a big deal…..for US/MLB fans (and players), they are a relatively foreign experience of little import compared to an MLB season or WS title.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:07 PM

        Baseball federations?

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Torre is more politician than tactician. Which is probably why he did so well with those Yankees teams. There were never many moving parts in the lineup on those teams, and he only ever trusted 2 relievers in a season: Mariano, and the guy who would never pitch (well) again after that particular year (see Nelson, Stanton, Quantrill, Proctor, Sturtze, etc).

  5. vallewho - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Torre burning a reliever?????? Torre managing like it was an All-Star game????…no, tell me it ain’t so.

    Politician? Maybe. I always thought that during the times in NY Torre acted more like the Pope. Somebody should get him a different hat.

    • chill1184 - Mar 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Naw Torre actually played and coached in the game unlike the self proclaimed sports “pope” in NYC.

  6. mediocrebob - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    To me the WBC is and should be more than a “glorified exhibition”. It is to the other countries participating.

    It’s baseball. America’s pastime. I think it matters to the players. At least most of them. It mattered to Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter when they were involved. The people who are writing the WBC off most likely aren’t baseball people.

    And most importantly, it’s the US competing against other countries. It’s a pride thing.

  7. sleepyirv - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Is Jeff Weaver still pitching?

  8. mediocrebob - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Neither MLB or ESPN have forced me to watch WBC. I’ve never been forced to watch baseball. It’s not like its the opera. IT’S BASEBALL. And it’s the US.

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