Skip to content

Overcoming Torre is Team USA’s biggest win yet

Mar 10, 2013, 7:57 PM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Garrett Richards’ arbitration hearing set for February 11

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:43 PM EST

    garrett richards getty Getty Images

    Teams and players usually come to terms before hearings are needed — thus avoiding any drama — but Richards is a complicated case.

  2. Diamondbacks hire Joe Carter as special assistant

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:28 PM EST

    joe carter getty Getty Images

    It’s the first front office type of job for Carter, who played for six different teams — most famously the Toronto Blue Jays — between 1983-1998.

  3. Angels, David Freese avoid arbitration

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EST

    David Freese AP AP

    Freese requested $7.6 million and the Angels countered at $5.25 million.

  4. The Braves DFA’d Jose Constanza to make room for Dian Toscano

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    braves logo large

    One fourth outfielder is being paid $6 million. The other fourth outfielder was not. Go Braves.

  5. Baseball is in The Best Shape of its Life. And isn’t dying, you guys.

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:59 PM EST

    Money Bag

    Wow! I get to use my two favorite cliches in one headline!

  6. White Sox sign Gordon Beckham, designate Dayan Viciedo for assignment

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:44 PM EST

    gordon beckham getty Getty Images

    Gordon Beckham played the first five-and-a-half years of his career for the White Sox before being traded to the Angels in August.

  7. Great Moments in Media Arrogance: Marshawn Lynch edition

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:25 PM EST

    Marshawn Lynch AP

    No, Johnny Sportswriter. Marshawn Lynch does not owe his job to you quoting him in your local newspaper.

  8. Mariners sign John Baker

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:16 PM EST

    John Baker marlins AP

    Baker was once a solid starting catcher for the Marlins, but he’s been mostly injured for the past five seasons.

  9. Joe Blanton is coming out of retirement

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:45 AM EST

    Joe Blanton AP

    Blanton called it quits in April after getting released by the Angels and struggling at Triple-A for the A’s.

  10. Remember when Cal Ripken’s mom was kidnapped? Yeah, it’s still unsolved.

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:03 AM EST

    violet ripken

    Dave McKenna of Deadspin looks into the investigation and why it has gone seemingly nowhere.

  11. Ichiro Suzuki’s deal with the Marlins is worth $2 million

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

    New York Yankees' Suzuki runs and watches the ball after he hit a walk-off home run to beat the Texas Rangers in their MLB American League game in New York Reuters

    At age 41 he’ll be joining the Marlins in a backup role, playing behind starting outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich.

  12. Yoan Moncada’s situation could clear up soon and he could sign in a couple of weeks

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    cuba hat

    Complications with new regulations may soon be ironed out.

  13. Pablo Sandoval made a half court basket while sitting on his butt

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:32 AM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP

    Why yes, it is the darkest week of the offseason. Why do you ask?

  14. Rob Manfred not concerned about uneven DH rule

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:41 PM EST

    mlb logo large

    If you expected new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to either expand the DH rule to the National League or eliminate it altogether, you can probably stop now.

  15. Orioles acquire outfielder Travis Snider from Pirates

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:28 PM EST

    travis snider pirates getty Getty Images

    Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have completed a trade for Pirates outfielder Travis Snider. Pittsburgh’s return is a player to be named later and 21-year-old pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley.

  16. Phillies still talking to the Brewers and Blue Jays about a Jonathan Papelbon trade

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:44 PM EST

    jonathan papelbon getty Getty Images

    Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday that the Brewers’ negotiations for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon were “definitely on life support, at best,” but it sounds like there has been some rekindling of that fire early this week.

  17. Rangers acquire right-hander Anthony Ranaudo from Red Sox for left-hander Robbie Ross

    Jan 27, 2015, 6:39 PM EST

    rangers logo

    The Rangers and Red Sox have swapped 25-year-old pitchers.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Papelbon (5644)
  2. J. Shields (5036)
  3. R. Vogelsong (4785)
  4. I. Suzuki (4162)
  5. Y. Moncada (3373)
  1. J. Gomes (3334)
  2. J. Hoffman (3136)
  3. G. Soto (2928)
  4. J. Montero (2863)
  5. D. Fowler (2851)