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What Ever Happened to Joe Isuzu?

What Ever Happened to Joe Isuzu?

Written by Ken (“the views expressed herein are not necessarily the opinions of yada, yada, yada” – Legal Disclaimer)

Many years ago Joe Isuzu appeared in several commercials, graduated to a sit com, and then slowly faded away. Recently, Joe Torre also graduated from his Big Elow commercials to cameo appearances in several television series. In this parallel universe it may be time for him to also slowly fade away. Ken, and why do you say this?

I use the Joe Isuzu comparison because Joe Torre appears to be managing the Dodgers like Toyota is managing their car quality and production. From now on I may just call Joe Torre – Joe Toyota.

I am tired of watching Joe Toyota’s accelerator stick causing certain position players to not have enough off days during the season and then crashing in October. In 2010, Blake, Ramirez, Martin and Furcal need more days parked in the garage then in prior years. Joe Toyota, fix your accelerator and allow these position players to pace themselves at an appropriate speed so that they will have the gas left to hit above the Mendoza line in October. Some of the young players only need a few days off to change their oil. However, when observing the age of a car and the more specialized the use of a car, any good mechanic will implement an appropriate preventive maintenance program. Apply the brakes to certain players and give them more rest days so that they can properly recharge their batteries.

I am tired of watching Joe Toyota’s accelerator stick causing him to leave pitchers on the mound like the second coming of Grady Little. It did not take a rocket scientist to see that for several months last year Billingsley had physical, and possibly mental, endurance issues and hit the wall 100 minutes into the game regardless of how many pitches he threw, just like the limitations of the battery of an electric car. If Joe Toyota does not know how to recharge Billingley’s battery, then Joe Toyota should not drive Billingsley in a direction that will cause the battery to die before he returns home (reaches the 6th inning).

I am tired of watching Joe Toyota’s accelerator stick causing him to treat Broxton’s rocket engine like a 4 cylinder engine that can be driven everyday on a 100 mile commute. Joe Toyota, you must know when to apply the brakes. It did not take a rocket scientist to see that Broxtonrarely had any skills in the second inning of a game, after resting for 3 or more days, or pitching three days in a row. You just can not start a rocket engine every day or let it sit for four days in a row and expect it to operate properly for the entire year. I am tired of watching Joe Toyota’s accelerator stick causing him to leave hitters in the game when they refuse to swing at strikes, refuse to hit the ball the other way, and then pull an outside pitch to third base resulting in a ground-ball that starts a double play or kills a rally. Joe Toyota, when are you going to apply the brakes, order the player sent to the shop, and put them up on the rack for a detailed skills inspection?

If the Joe Toyota’s managerial performance is not changed by Cinco de Mayo, then I suggest the following recall:

1. Convert “Bob” to another special assistant to the GM and let him travel 5 days a week and visit the Dodger minor league teams,
2. Let Ausmus call the game and give the signs to the catcher when he is not playing. (Honeycutt can concentrate on teaching the pitchers how to pitch)
3. Let Mattingly give signs to the base coaches when the Dodgers are hitting (This will assist management in determining whether he actually is a viable managerial candidate), and
4. Let Torre concentrate on motivating the players and give them a safe environment.

About Ken

Ken is a professional working in multiple disciplines who has participated in various sports from elementary school through post intercollegiate level. He may be the only athlete in intercollegiate sports history to have started as both a middle blocker on an intercollegiate volleyball team and as a hook on an intercollegiate rugby team during the same season. He has been a Dodger fan since youth and now regularly watches over 150 Dodger games per season.

25 Responses to “What Ever Happened to Joe Isuzu?”

  1. Rory says:

    I get it. And to a degree I am with you.

    Here’s Mr. Toyota’s problem as I see it. We need our starters on the field again this year if we are to win the division by one game. Our back-ups look to me like they couldn’t hit their way through a wet pinata. We got only 4 starters, and I see none of them going 7 innings every outing, so, we had better have a deep and talented pen.

    This team just isn’t deep enough to give our stars time off.

  2. Roger Dodger says:

    Let me go back yesterday for a moment.

    Romey said,”Willie Mays made a really good catch…NOT GREAT. I can name many more that were better. Jim Edmonds, Ron Swoboda Sandy Amoros in the 1955 world series, Endy Chavez against the Cardinals robbing Scott Rolen . . . I never saw Mays play I am too young.

    Here is the catch —

    This was in the 1954 World Series.

    Notice he was just a few feet from the wall, very hard wall. My point is this. There was very little media coverage in those days for folks to watch plays like that. No SportsCenter with “Plays of the Day.” There was no instant-replay. Just the one time live picture/s, and still shots in newspapers and magazines.

    In those days, most of us remembered the voice call of those kind of plays, followed by a still picture.

    Also, as I said yesterday. Gloves were small, walls were very hard, many players were hurt and out for days crashing into walls. The Dodgers Pete Reiser’s career was shorten in the 1940s because of crashing into concrete walls.

    Here is a quote:

    “”As a rookie in 1941, Reiser won the National League batting title while the Dodgers took home the pennant. The following year, he was hitting .380 until he ran into a concrete outfield wall while running at full speed. That incident robbed him of any more effective play that year, and caused Brooklyn’s drop in the NL standings.

    Reiser gave great effort on every play in the field, and was therefore very injury-prone. He fractured his skull running into an outfield wall on one occasion (but still made the throw back to the infield), was temporarily paralyzed on another, and was taken off the field on a stretcher many times. Pete was once given his last rites in the ballpark.

    Leo Durocher, who was Reiser’s first major league manager, reflected many years later that in terms of talent, skill, and potential, there was only one other player comparable to Reiser – Willie Mays. Durocher also said that “he had more power than Willie — left-handed and right-handed both.”

    Reiser, a switch hitter who sometimes restricted himself to batting left-handed because of injury, served in the United States Army during World War II, playing baseball for Army teams. While serving, he was injured again and had to learn to throw with both arms. Durocher said, “And he could throw at least as good as Willie [Mays] right-handed and left-handed.”

    When Reiser returned to the majors in 1946, he was still suffering from the injury from playing Army baseball. He was never the same hitter that he was early in his career. However, he still retained his speed and stole home plate a record seven times in 1946.”"

    I agree with you, there have been many better catches since Willie did that one, but it was one of the first flashy plays on video media to watch over and over again.

    Heck — the next year, 1955, in Spring Training, I saw Willie play a game in Tucson (in March) against Cleveland. I was in the roped off section for the overflow crowd that day — in centerfield, out on the grass. Willie was in center and he made a catch right in front of me that was even better than the one we are talking about.

    But that catch was all show-boat. A high-deep-fly ball to center, coming right at him — Willie ran to left center a bit, then came racing back to center and dove through the air, caught the ball, rolling over and laid in the grass a few long seconds as the crowd went crazy.

    The catch was right in front of me. It was a great catch, buy he could have just stood in his original place and caught the ball in his hip pocket.

    I did not see Pete Reiser play, but just reading the above tells us just how hard and serious it was to crash into wall in those days.

    But I will wait as we all watch our guy Matt Kemp make an even better one this coming season. (With a bigger glove, and softer walls, and all.)

    Hey Ken, nice piece above.

  3. Jaydavis says:

    This might work
    Nippon Sports is reporting that free-agent LHP Hisanori Takahashi will sign a minor-league deal with either the #Mets or the #Dodgers.

  4. DRomo says:

    Mark, great analogy! So where does Joe Toyota’s brake issues come in? He can’t stop using Martin?

    Rory , I don’t know if we aren’t deep enough. We have stockpiled 100 outfielders and middle infielders. Some of them are good wenought o be good bench guys and hitters. (i.e. Belly, Meintk…, Carroll, Johnson) I do agree we need our starters to go deeper. I wonder if Ned & Co. are interested in a Braden Looper? He is a innings eater and could be had at a discount now. I know, I know, too much money but I still think we will spend more before the season starts. I believe there are moves to be made yet.

    Is it just me or does anyone else have a problem with Mattingley being the heir apparent to Torre? He has never managed a little league game, you are going to give him the Los Angeles Dodgers? It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe I hope it is a open competition with Donnie in the mix. I still am holding out hope for Kevin Kennedy (who is a Dodger guy/10 yrs in the Dodger system/ an O’Malley era guy) and wouldn’t be suprised to see Bobby Valentines name come up.

  5. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Ken has never liked Joe Torre….so this isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. All Joe Torre has done has been to the playoffs 13 or 14 years in a row. He obviously has faults… as all people do and all managers do. There is always room for improvement…. but for me, despite the fact that he’s probably had superstar clubs to manage, he’s made it to the playoffs every year in the last decade…. he’s good enough for me.

    You can easily harp on the negative… but he does a lot of good. His record proves that the good FAR outweighs the bad.

    Enjoy your gloom and doom naysayers. I agree with Mark…this team will win 90 or more games and make the playoffs again

  6. lawdog says:

    Great article Ken! Torre is trying to use Broxton like he was Rivera. If your only pitch is a mean cutter you can pitch two innings a game whenever the manager wants. When you throw 102 and can’t control anything off speed, you can’t be used the same way.

    That Aflack Duck asked all the right questions! Great satire!

    Maybe we can find Joe Isuzu and hire him as the PR man for the Dogs?

  7. DRomo says:

    Mariano Rivera never wet his pants when he saw a certain pinch hitter in the on deck circle. God help us when we play San Diego this year!! Do Depends come in XXXXL?

    Haegar, I think the Dodgers will win the division again but it won’t be with the 95 wins like last year. Also, would you say this ball club needs improvement? I do. You can’t run into the same hurdle (Philly) 2 years in a row without addressing , “How do we beat these guys?” They improved their ball club, we stood pat (basically). I am hopefully, however, that we are not done. I do think we will enhance this roster as we go.

  8. Rory says:

    90 or more? No, Mark thinks they will 96. He has 500 push-ups bet on it. Let’s not anyone forget that. I won’t, because I have the under on 95 for that bet.

    Romey, every team has stockpiles of players. Every team has the same number of players in their organization, some are just better than others. I think we lost the one bench player that can step in and play like a starter and that was Juan Pierre. As a bench player last year he hit .300, stole 30 bases and scored 57 runs. Our bench combined won’t do that this year. Mark Loretta was a career .295 hitter until he came to L.A. where he hit .232. I see something similar happening to Carroll – maybe not that low, but in the .250-.260 range. Belliard was hitting .246 when we picked him up, and hit .351 for us. Which of those numbers will he get closer to in a full year with the Dodgers?

    We have the potential to have a very good pitching staff, if all goes right. If Bills returns to form, if Kershaw gets 200 innings of 3.0, if Kuroda gets 30+ starts with his 3.75 ERA, if Padilla lasts all year, if we find a 5th starter that can take the ball 30 times and if the pen does again what it did last year.

    I think everyone is in agreement that Broxton needs an off speed pitch he can throw where he wants to throw it. Give him a Gagne circle change he throws for strikes and he becomes unhittable.

    Takahashi will sign with the Mets, not the Dodgers.

    And for the record, I saw Billy Buckner make some fearless diving catches near a very close fence in left field for the Dodgers – much more dangerous than in a center field where the fence was 480 feet away. Buckner was a great outfielder when he first came up.

  9. Roger Dodger says:

    Rory, I remember in one of the first two (I believe) years Buckner was with the Dodgers — that he was at the plate agains San Diego in the 9th inning with a runner on base, and he had to get a hit for the Dodgers to either stay in the game or win the game in enter the playoffs.

    He poped up. So, Buckner was like a young Ethier (Mark will agree).

  10. Rory says:

    Don’t know if you are interested, but Buckner hit pretty well WRISP. He never had much of a slugging %, and he was really crazy out in the field, diving all over the place and crashing into walls. I suspect lack of power and an abundance of wreckless outfield play led the Dodgers to let him go. He was one of my favorites. Check out his splits if you are interested:

    Did you guys read True Blue LA today? It’s right up there ^ and it is freaking hilarious.

    ps – got your message. I’ll get back to you soon. We can reconnoiter a game or two.

  11. GoNzO says:

    I’m with Ken. All Joe Torre has done these past years is fill out the lineup card and motivate. His managerial skills have never been that good. Is it a coincidence that he has never won without Mr. Don Zimmer?? Torre has always needed help from his bench coach, with us he just hasn’t had the talent of those yankee teams.

    Some one said that there is always room for improvement, but can you teach an old dog new tricks?

    As for Mattingly being groomed to be manager, I think he needs to prove he has the chops to manage he needs to prove it in the minors. If Ryno who is a HOFer is paying his dues, why shouldn’t Mattingly? There are those special cases like Asmus who I really think will win a WS as a manager can start being a bench coach right away. Another person to keep an eye out for is Tim Wallach who has been climbing the ladder.

    Joe Torre + Yankee $$$ + HOFer players + filling out lineup = HOF manager status

  12. lawdog says:

    Hire Zimmer and you’ll need a choke chain, leash and muzzle for Manny.

  13. Rory says:

    I think I could manage the Yankees. The Dodgers? Now that is going to take some doing.

    Great players can make managers look really good. Torre? 28 years of managing, 6 pennants 4 World Series titles and only 2 Manager of the Year awards. He had a great run in New York between ’96 and ’03, but nothing since then and he has had some very good teams.

    Seems to me that really good managers do more than just fill out a lineup card. Good managers take marginal players and make them better. Good managers take marginal teams and win with them. I would think the opposite must be true as well – good managers win with teams they are supposed to win with. It takes a person with special skills to manage 25 enormous egos. The Yankees are a team of All Stars. The Yankees, with this $200 million payroll of super players had a period there where they won 100 games a bunch of times and didn’t win a title. Bad managing? or maybe impossible to motivate a team of multi-millionaires? A lot goes into winning titles and frankly I haven’t seen Torre work miracles anywhere.

    Torre will be tested this year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is looking forward to being gone after it.

    And who steps up to take his place? It has to be somebody like a Joe Girardi. Has to be a players manager, and since Scioscia is not available, that to me is Mattingly, Wallach or Ausmus.

  14. DRomo says:

    Ken and Gonzo,

    With all due respect I have never bought into the “All he does is fill out the lineup” arguement. Buck Showalter filled out the same lineups in NY and AZ, they won with out him when a good enough manager came in.

    Del Harris put Shaq and Kobe out there and won zero! Doug Collins ran out Jordan and Pippen and won zero rings too. Yet it worked for Phil Jackson.

    It isn’t all on the manager/head coach but to say he has little or nothing to do with it is way over-simplifying it don’t you think?

  15. DRomo says:

    Also I think Torre doesn’t get enough credit for holding the team together last season when it would have been easy for them to fall apart when Manny got suspended. Grady Little lost the club with less contreversy. Torre & staff held it together and won 95 games, that is not a solid managing job?

  16. Mark Timmons says:

    Where would Tony LaRussa be without Dave Duncan?

  17. ken says:

    Rory – Cool. The Dodgers need a deep pen with 3 long relievers.

    Rodger – Thank you

    DRomo – Thank you.; LOL; I think that Torre is doing too much and should do less. Let somebody else closer to the players make some decisions. Torre has naturally developed a big picture CEO mentality and should no longer try to micromanage. He will do a great job managing managers.

    Law Dog – Thank you.

    Gonzo – Thank you. Torre has failed to win the WS for that last 9 years.

  18. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Here’s my thing… Joe Torre is a manager who wins. He’s probably not as good as I or the analysts who have their tongues up his a$$ think he is, but he’s definitely not as bad and useless as Ken makes him out to be. That’s all i’m saying.

    Ken talks about Joe Torre like he’s the anti-christ. All I’m asking people to do is to recognize the good qualities he has and irregardless of the circumstances of his players and the teams he coached… his teams win. If you had to choose a guy who was the greatest technical manager..who makes every move you think he should be making, and doesn’t win… versus the guy who doesn’t do things in game situations that you would do if you were in his place, but gets his team to the post season 14 years in a row, who would you choose?

    I choose Torre

  19. A Shot of Haeger says:


    Bobby Cox is considered a great manager.. he hasn’t won in 13 years.. there’s actually a ton of great managers who haven’t won the World Series in 9 years. All that I ask is my manager put my team in a position to win the Series… make the playoffs. He’s done that 13 years in a row.

    I do agree letting the coaches take more responsibility is probably a good thing.

    There was an episode of Sports Night where the boss played by Robert Guillaume said.. a smart businessman hires people around him that are smarter than him and know more than him. We have a pretty good group of coaches.

  20. ken says:

    Why are there only 5 teams whose pitchers are reporting after the date that the Dodgers report?

    Why are there only 2 teams whose positions players are reporting after the date that the Dodgers report?

    Are all of the Dodgers pitchers in such good shape that they can report so late? If so I expect the starters to be able to go 7 innings every start.

    Or is this just another budget issue?

    We will see.

  21. Rory says:

    Gravel Gertie could manage the team of great baseball players and play the team of mediocre players managed by Torre and win 60% of the time.

    I think part of the reason the Yankees won with Torre is because he just got out of their way. Look at that lineup. I still don’t understand his pitching decisions, but, he didn’t screw it up so badly we failed to make the play-offs. I am not so sure the manager makes all that much difference. It’s the players.

    Tracy was actually doing well right up until his last year. His winning % for the first four years was the same as Torre’s first two. And, Tracy won Manager of the Year last year. Tracy wasn’t the Dodgers problem.

    What I think this team needs is a pitching coach who can get the starters to trust their stuff enough to throw strikes. If you can hit your spots, you should be able to get 7 innings on 100 pitches. Our guys just don’t do it. Maybe that’s youth, but, it had better get worked out or the same thing is going to happen – our staff fades in October.

    I am worried about the bench. Manny will need lots of rest, and we don’t have Pierre anymore. Carroll/DeWitt will be little better than Loretta, but, I am not so impressed with what the Dodgers have done to add depth. And, there is that 5th starter thing.

    ken, I have no answer to your questions, but I would think McCourtroom would want the doors opened as soon as possible to get some cash flowing. Why would reporting later save the Dodgers money?

  22. A Shot of Haeger says:

    Gravel Gertie could manage the team of great baseball players and play the team of mediocre players managed by Torre and win 60% of the time.

    No she couldn’t. If managing a baseball team was so easy, everyone would be able to do it.

    Joe Torre knows more about baseball than all of you combined.
    Grady Little knows more about baseball than all of you combined.
    Jim Tracy knows more about baseball than all of you combined.
    Manny Acta knows more about baseball than all of you combined.

    Should I go on? Stop pretending like every person on this planet has the ability to do any job on the planet just because you watch someone do it.

    Being a manager or coach of any team in any sport is not easy. There’s a reason why the majority of managers or coaches have an extensive background in the sport they played in. Have any of you played professional baseball before?

    Ken or lawdog is a lawyer. I’ve never been to law school, but do you think i can walk into a courtroom and try and prosecute or defend a murder case just because I’ve seen every episode of Perry Mason?

    Don’t denigrate a managers job. He’s not bagging groceries

  23. Mark Timmons says:

    Wow! That was awesome, Haeger!


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