Torre becomes fifth-winningest manager of all time

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By beating the A’s last night Joe Torre moved past Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195.

“If you told me a dozen years ago that I’d be in this rarefied air, I’d
tell you you’re full of baloney because I certainly started way under
.500 when I took over the Yankees in 1996,” Torre said. “I have to
thank George Steinbrenner for putting me in a position to do this. I’ve
admired what Sparky did for all those years, and I’m proud to be in
that company.”

Torre is certainly right about his career path being different than
you’d expect from the fifth-winningest skipper in baseball history, as
he became a manager in 1977 at the age of 36 and spent five seasons
going just 286-420 (.405) with the Mets. By comparison, Anderson won
102 games as a 36-year-old rookie manager in 1970, and had four NL
pennants and two World Series titles after seven seasons on the job.

Not only did Torre start slow, he had a modest 894-1,003 (.471)
career record when Steinbrenner hired him to take over the Yankees as a
55-year-old in 1996. The rest is history, of course, as Torre won six
AL pennants, four championships, and 60 percent of his games during a
dozen seasons in New York and has gone 128-101 (.559) in two seasons in
Los Angeles.

Torre will have a very difficult time moving higher than fifth on
the all-time wins list because he has two active managers ahead of him
in Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and they lead him by 162 and 301 wins,
respectively. Of course, his standing in the top five is also very
safe, as 65-year-old Lou Piniella is the next-closest active manager
with 463 fewer wins and no one else is even within 800.

Connie Mack is the all-time leader with an amazing 3,731, which is
35 percent more than second place John McGraw at 2,763. To put that
into some context, consider that Torre could win 100 games per season
until the age of 80 and he’d still be 280 shy of Mack. Also consider
that, among the 10 managers with 2,000 victories, Mack is the only one
with a sub-.500 record. He managed an astounding 7,755 games–only 347
fewer than Torre and Anderson combined–and won 48.6 percent of them.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.