Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre bites the hand that fed him for 12 years

Ever hear that old baseball adage about how "what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse"? Apparently Joe Torre hasn't, or he's pretending he hasn't. Because he, along with Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci, have written a tell-all book about Teflon Torre's time with the Yankees, called "The Yankee Years." And the New York Post has the scoop on the book.

Here are some of the details of the Torre tome, according to the Post:

Torre gets most personal in his attacks against Alex Rodriguez, who he says was called "A-Fraud" by his teammates after he developed a "Single White Female"-like obsession with team captain Derek Jeter and asked for a personal clubhouse assistant to run errands for him.

The Post also reports this about "The Yankee Years":

Torre spent years trying to bring out a winning performance from A-Rod, the highest-paid player in baseball, which from all reported accounts included a lot of hand-holding and battling the insecurities and demons Rodriguez struggles with.
Remember how Torre called out Michael Kay for gossiping about the team in 1996, saying he didn't need Kay to be the Rona Barrett of the Yankee clubhouse? Looks like Torre was the real Rona Barrett of the Yankee clubhouse!

And while A-Rod may be paranoid, Torre was indeed out to get him all along. Between the lukewarm comments to the press all along about him, to the Tom Verducci-written "Lonely Yankee" hit job in Sports Illustrated in the fall of 2006, to batting him eighth in the playoffs to take the heat off Torre, Joe treated A-Rod pretty badly.

Don't forget how that Verducci-written SI article talked about a one-on-one closed-door meeting with Torre and Rodriguez, where Alex nervously twirled his wedding ring? That tidbit came from Torre, who was violating clubhouse confidentiality even then.

So while it's clear Alex is a high-maintenance player who brings a lot of drama - as well as talent - to the team, I would take any anti-A-Rod stuff Torre writes with a grain - no, make that a shaker - of salt.

True, A-Rod has had some awful moments in the playoffs (as has Torre, of course, although Joe does have those wonderful four rings, too), but the Yankees would not have even made the playoffs in 2005 and 2007 without Alex having MVP seasons those years. Kind of like how Torre's Dodgers wouldn't have made the playoffs this year without Manny Ramirez having two MVP-like months with the team.

And how does Torre repay A-Rod for those phenomenal seasons? He trashes him to sell books. Classy! Come to think of it, Manny had better watch his back. Because I'm guessing that the high-maintenance superstar will be negatively featured in Torre's inevitable sequel, "The Dodger Years."

Besides, given that Torre had his clubhouse attendant make him his green tea every day (iced green tea in the summer, of course), it's rather rich for Joe to criticize Alex for having a clubhouse attendant do personal chores.

And how about Verducci writing this book with Torre, at the same time he was slamming the Yankees and defending Torre in his Sports Illustrated day job? Nice work if you can get it, eh?

You may remember that back in the fall of 2007, the Yankees' Randy Levine called out Verducci for a conflict of interest in saying that the Yankees'ownership had blood on their hands for the way they treated Joe. Levine noted that Verducci had previously collaborated with Torre on a book, something that wasn't mentioned in the SI article.

Verducci rather huffily told the New York Times he didn't think it was a big deal that he didn't mention the book, saying that ''it's 10 years ago and clearly a matter of public record."

Less than three weeks later, Doubleday announced that Torre was writing a book, with - surprise - Verducci as his ghostwriter. Yet Sports Illustrated continued to let Verducci write about the Yanks - including critiquing Yankee ownership just last month, as well as doing a cover story about the old stadium where he wrote the article as if he were literally the voice of Yankee Stadium. And there were no disclaimers about his new book project included with the articles.

Heck, there's not even a mention of either book Verducci wrote with Torre on the columnist's official SI bio. Ridiculous.

I will have more to say later today, and in the future, about the book, including the way Joe slams Brian Cashman and Yankee ownership. But in the meantime, I'd like to ask our readers what they think about the book. Leave us a comment!


Jonmouk71 said...

Let's wait for the book before passing judgment. None of Joe's "bitterness" should be a surprise - he clearly felt and said at the time that the Yanks 2007 offer was an insult. But to feel that Cashman didn't stand up for him is foolish, because they both would have been out the door. Did Joe stand up for Joe Frazier when the Mets fired him and gave Joe the manager job? Did Joe try to stop the Seaver trade? The answer is no - face it, he wanted the job more than being a 'stand-up' guy. Let's also face facts - Joe was outmanaged in the playoffs from 2002 on (especially in 2004) and probably could have been shown the door earlier for those failures. I'll also be interested in Joe's take on the steroid use in his clubhouse - did he think they were drinking Bigelow Tea? I sincerely hope the book is not what is printed in the press and that Joe takes the high road like his classy pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre did in his book.

Anonymous said...

I know Joe was lucky to get 4 rings thanks to the Yankee $$$$$ and ownership to produce the team and, Yes Joes management was was never up to par as his past shows. He wasted good teams to his poor managing sitting back with his sippee bottle of water hoping the team would bring him through. It never happened Yankees yes kept him too long. The lousy manager goes to a lousy team he was lucky they got Manny and then he blew it in the playoffs.If they don't get Manny they dam sure should fire him as teams before the Yeankees did.I will give him credit for being a okay ball player.

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Toby said...

I'd wait until the book comes out to see what it really says, because who can trust what comes out of the Post - or any paper in the Murdoch empire? (Or their Fixed News outlet for that matter!)

Lisa Swan said...

KM, you're absolutely right that I criticized A-Rod pretty harshly about opting out, and about Madonna. And I hope this year he keeps his private life, well, private.

But here's the thing with Torre. He was never a great Xs and Os manager, but he was supposed to be the great player's manager who took care of his guys. He was also supposed to be classy (I, on the other hand, have never claimed to be classy!) Yet here he is, using A-Rod to sell books, the way Jose Canseco did. I find that unseemly.

Anonymous said...

as toby said, what until the book comes out and read it for yourself. publicists usually release spectacular quotes ahead of time to drum up interest. who knows the full context of what is said. It has been said that this is a 3rd person account as opposed to torre telling his own story. verducci has been collecting this info. independently as well, or so it was reported.

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