Joe Torre would have made a great General Counsel. George Steinbrenner would have made a terrible GC. One makes it about the game, the other makes it about himself. The owner has that uxury but the manager does not.
When I lived in the New York area, the Yankees were on a roll and Joe Torre was the coach of the century. But I was always struck by how little he actually seemed to do in the dugout. This was especially true when I watched a game on TV. A nod. A finger to the side of his nose. Pick up the phone. Walk to the mound. Talk. Walk back to the dugout. Scratch. But each move seemed to have a purpose, a meaning, a goal. I doubt if Joe Torre even spit without meaning something - whatever he had in his mouth night after night.
Joe probably knew more about baseball than anyone in Yankee Stadium on any given night, but he never flaunted it. He just got it done. Time after time after time.
And what is a GC on any deal? A manager. And if he's going to manage the team effectively, he better know more than anyone else about doing deals or he's not going to have the respect of his team. This doesn't mean he's can pinch hit, be the DH or even throw a good slider. It does mean he knows when each of those skills are needed in the deal, and which of his people can deliver on it in the bottom of the ninth and down a run.
That's what a great GC does - he doesn't make the game or the team about him. He just gets it done. Like Joe, he knows who to put in and who to take out...
And when its time to curse out the umpire.
Thanks for reading.
[This is Pt. 6 of "Good GC or Great GC: The Seven Characteristics That Make The Difference", a series of seven weekly blog posts discussing what makes a great GC]