I harped on ad nauseam with my friends the way Joe Torre played favorites with Bernie Williams on the Yankees and how (to me) it appeared to affect morale on the team and the relationship with other players.
In 2004, when his skills were diminishing, Bernie Williams was replaced in center field by Kenny Lofton, who soon found himself playing out of favor with Torre and receiving less playing time as a result. Kenny felt slighted by his manager because it was clear to him that he was treated differently as a new player vs. an established player who had the ear of the manager (despite Lofton’s greater skill set at that time).
Another example of perceived favoritism was when Williams was not signed after the 2006 season. Although he didn’t sign a deal with the Yankees, Williams was invited to spring training but declined to attend. Torre called Williams on several occasions to invite him into camp, but Williams declined. Despite having a roster full of talent, it could be assumed that Mr. Torre may have slighted other choices that may have been already on the team.
My suspicions may have been solidified by seeing an interview with Williams where Torre was a special guest and admitted that everyone knew Williams was his favorite.
Whether or not my suspicions are correct, they are examples of what can be “perceived” as favoritism, which very often is just as bad as “actual” favoritism. Whether or not any of these incidences (or others) were related to Torre’s feelings about Williams isn’t totally clear, but certainly can lead to decreased morale due to others feeling slighted by favorites being played.
As well, when someone is “your favorite”, it could lead to making judgements based not on performance but on your feelings towards one person over another, and lead to those underperforming to keep their role because of their strong relationship with their superior.
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