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Thread: 4TH DARKEST DAY IN ATLANTA BRAVES HISTORY: TURNER FIRES TORRE

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    4TH DARKEST DAY IN ATLANTA BRAVES HISTORY: TURNER FIRES TORRE


    OCTOBER 1, 1984

    TURNER FIRES TORRE

    On October 24, 1981, a handpicked selection committee had its report ready for owner Ted Turner. Its member unanimously agreed that Turner should hire Eddie Haas to be the new Braves manager.

    That day could have been one of the darkest in Braves history, but in one of the few things that went right that decade, Turner ignored the committee, and named Joe Torre the newest Braves manager. Perhaps the committee was mindful of VP Hank Aaron’s long-standings animosity towards Torre, or perhaps the Braves were being run by idiots. But thankfully, the job belonged to the Braves’ former all-star catcher.

    The Braves, who were 50-56 under Bobby Cox in the strike-shortened 1981 season, hungered for another taste of postseason play that had denied them since 1969. In the middle of the bleak 70s, Turner bought the Braves to save them for Atlanta (and for his fledgling cable network), and endured a 61-101 season in 1977 which saw him fire Dave Bristol and name himself for a single day in uniform. Cox moved the needle but failed to get the Braves to the playoffs, so Turner reluctantly pulled the trigger on the popular Cox.

    It was a magical moment in Braves history.

    Torre’s Braves, sparked by newly acquired Claudell Washington and an MVP season from Dale Murphy, won their first 13 games and spent only one day out of first place en route to a long-sought division title and an 89-73 record. Phil Niekro, age 43, went 17-4. The year ended abruptly when a Game One lead was rained out and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to sweep the NLCS, but the Braves were still a force in 1983, going 88-74 and finishing a strong second to the Dodgers, three games back.

    But hubris set in. Injuries to powerful Bob Horner and expensive acquisition Len Barker compounded the departure of Niekro to the hated Yankees and even though the Braves were in a tie for second place behind West champ San Diego, they were only 80-82 and perceived as taking a backwards step, even though the team had never finished higher than third in the 13 seasons previous to Torre’s return.

    And so, on October 1, 1984, Joe Torre was fired.

    Turner called Torre into his office and pulled the trigger himself.

    “He just felt we had reached a point and sort of stagnated there,” Torre recalled the meeting. “He feels they are capable of winning, and I have to agree with him.”

    Torre, who would go on to the Angels broadcast booth before returning to the field, was quite aware he was up against an impossible standard: himself.

    “Probably the worst thing that happened to me was winning the first year we were here,” he said. “That’s because you got people’s mouths watering for what’s next – and we never really got to that next plateau.”

    This time, Turner listened to his committee and promoted Class AAA Richmond manager Haas to his first (and last) major league job. It was, to put it mildly, a disaster from Day One.

    The late David Moffit, a tremendous writer and reporter for UPI who worked for the defunct organization for over 50 years, filed the following story:

    An apt description for new Atlanta Braves manager Eddie Haas might be “bland.”

    Haas, a longtime organization man who toiled for most of his 31 years in professional baseball in the minors, was named Tuesday to succeed Joe Torre. Torre was fired a day earlier by team owner Ted Turner, who said, “I just felt we needed to make a change.”

    At a news conference announcing his promotion, Haas gave no indication he’ll be able to fire up the Braves to improve on their performance under Torre, for whom they finished first in 1982 and second twice in the National League West.

    “Any manager has his own way of doing things,” said Haas, under whom Richmond went to the International League playoffs three straight years. “You just do what you think you can get done. Every manager tries to improve. There are different ways of doing that.”

    How, Haas was asked does his philosophy of managing differ from Torre’s? “I don’t know,” Haas said after a moment’s hesitation. “You’ll have to ask the players about that.”

    Haas agrees with Torre that injuries were the main cause for Atlanta going 80-82 this past season, winding up tied with Houston for second.


    TURNER, HAAS: CLUELESS


    “I think Joe Torre was a good manger,” said Turner. “None of the people I’ve let go (Briastol, Cox, Torre) were bums. They were all quality managers, but sometimes you need someone to preach a new sermon.”

    Turner left the impression that a key factor in the switch was his desire to replace Bob Gibson with Johnny Sain as pitching coach.

    “Rick Camp (8-6) and Rick Mahler (13-10) had been written off last winter,” said Turner. “If it handn’t been for the loss of Phil Niekro (to the Yankees) and the imprisonment of Mr. (Pascual) Perez, Mahler wouldn’t have even been on the club.

    “I never considered letting the coaches go and keeping Torre,” Turner added.

    The rest of the story:
    the clueless Haas (50-71) didn’t make it through August. Barker went from 7-8 to 2-9 and Perez from 14-8 to 1-13 and a deep bullpen went from 49 saves to 29. Two more bad hires followed in the impossibly sunny Chuck Tanner and the overmatched Russ Nixon. The Braves would not touch first or second place again until 1991, when Bobby Cox returned in a year that will also be known as Worst to First.
    Last edited by rico43; 06-11-2016 at 11:26 PM.

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    Shift Leader CyYoung31's Avatar
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    Torre simply took what Cox had built and didn't run it into the ground.

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    Have to disagree with the firing of Torre being a dark day. The hiring of Haas definitely was.

    Torre was a good manager when he had George Steinbrenner's bottomless bank account behind him. He was mediocre to bad in St. Louis and Los Angeles, two places where it's relatively easy to win.

    Agree with CyYoung31 that Torre's best accomplishment was continuing what Cox was building. I think that the division title would have happened had Bobby been allowed to stay around, and might have led to a run of sustained success happening sooner than it did.

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirkPiggler View Post
    Have to disagree with the firing of Torre being a dark day. The hiring of Haas definitely was.

    Torre was a good manager when he had George Steinbrenner's bottomless bank account behind him. He was mediocre to bad in St. Louis and Los Angeles, two places where it's relatively easy to win.

    Agree with CyYoung31 that Torre's best accomplishment was continuing what Cox was building. I think that the division title would have happened had Bobby been allowed to stay around, and might have led to a run of sustained success happening sooner than it did.
    Agree that hiring of Haas contributed a lot to the darkness. But if left alone, Torre would have at least would have kept the ship from running aground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rico43 View Post
    Agree that hiring of Haas contributed a lot to the darkness. But if left alone, Torre would have at least would have kept the ship from running aground.
    Maybe so.

    On the other hand, if the ship hadn't run aground Ted might not have been driven to bring back Bobby Cox as GM to finally get things right.

    Isn't that kind of the same dilemma we have now (or, at the end of 2014)? Continue in mediocrity for a few more years, or blow it all up and try to get back to sustained success?

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    FYI, nobody said anyone would agree with my choices. Inviting discussion and debate was a big part of this exercise. Glad I finally hit on one that's controversial. Thought No. 10 would do it right off the bat.

    Three more left. Any guesses where I land on those?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rico43 View Post
    FYI, nobody said anyone would agree with my choices. Inviting discussion and debate was a big part of this exercise. Glad I finally hit on one that's controversial. Thought No. 10 would do it right off the bat.

    Three more left. Any guesses where I land on those?
    Some possibilities in no particular order:

    Wainwright for Drew.
    Rain out in Game 1 of 1982 NLDS
    Eric Gregg game in 1997 playoffs.
    Game 4 of 1996 World Series
    Half the farm for Teixeira

    That's number nine
    Last edited by rico43; 06-13-2016 at 10:26 AM.

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirkPiggler View Post
    Some possibilities in no particular order:

    Wainwright for Drew.
    Rain out in Game 1 of 1982 NLDS
    Eric Gregg game in 1997 playoffs.
    Game 4 of 1996 World Series
    Half the farm for Teixeira

    That's number nine
    Many good honorable mentions here, however. If Eric Gregg were still alive, I might seriously pounce on that game (I was there!). But I will respect the dead

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    The thing with Haas is that he was hailed throughout the industry as someone who deserved to manage at the big league level given his body of work in the minors. Just goes to show you.

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    Shift Leader CyYoung31's Avatar
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    Number 1: The Braves trade Jason Heyward to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller.








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