While co-writer Verducci tried to downplay those newspaper accounts, saying that the book "is not a first-person book by Joe Torre, it's a third-person narrative based on 12 years of knowing the Yankees," it doesn't make the slams and smears in the book any less unseemly. Andrew Morton did the same thing as Verducci with his Monica Lewinsky and Princess Diana books, but it didn't mean that they didn't orchestrate everything that made it into those tomes. Besides, Torre got paid millions for the book, and his name is on the cover. Of course he's responsible for everything that's in the book.
Verducci also said that "smart people will judge the book upon actually reading it and not reading preliminary reports prior to its publication." Given that Verducci is peddling a book whose own publisher's materials describe the bug game as happening in September, and not October, I think he's the last person who should be decribing what "smart people" should do.
Besides, I don't need to read 500 pages to get the idea that Torre is violating the clubhouse code that he once upheld. All I had to do was read that publisher's description of the book on Amazon.com, where it talks about "the high-priced ace who broke down in tears and refused to go back to the mound in the middle of a game."
Despite that allegation, Verducci still claimed that Torre didn't "rip anybody," and that "The Yankee Years" needed to "be read in context." But in exactly what context is this sentence about A-Rod anything but a rip job?
“Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself.”I mean, really. You don't even have to like A-Rod to raise your eyebrows about pretty much every part of that sentence, especially given that Roger Clemens, to name just one "ambitious superstar," was a big part of the Torre era. And given that Torre himself is about as image-obsessed as anybody in baseball. And given that ballplayers and strippers go together like peanut butter and jelly - or is Joe insinuating that Alex is the only guy on the Yankees who ever spent time in the champagne room?
Speaking of peanut butter and jelly, here's another tidbit from the book, courtesy of the New York Times:
“One time, in Detroit, where his personal attendant was not available, Rodriguez was jogging off the field after batting practice, saw a Comerica Park visiting clubhouse attendant, a young kid in his first months on the job, and simply barked, ‘Peanut butter and jelly.’ ”After reading that, I half-expected the next breathless A-Rod revelation to be something like, "One time, in Detroit, when he thought nobody was looking, Alex used the bathroom and didn't wash his hands afterwards. He was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar who didn't understand the importance of good hygiene."
Joe's been in this game for 50 years, and he's acting like a hothouse flower over seeing a ballplayer barking orders at a clubhouse flunky. Who does he think he's fooling here?
And this isn't the only time Torre obsesses in the book over the way A-Rod talks to clubhouse attendants. The New York Post reports this quote from Torre in "The Yankee Years":
"I said to him, 'Alex, do me a favor, at least go get a cup of coffee by yourself instead of sending someone to get you a cup of coffee.' A little while later, he goes out of his way to find me. He's carrying a cup of coffee. 'Look, Skip,' he said. 'I got my own cup of coffee!' That wasn't even the point. It was just an example. The point was just be one of the guys. He didn't get it."Two things about that anecdote:
* Torre himself had a clubhouse attendant make up his green tea every day, so it's more than a little hypocritical to criticize Alex for having a clubhouse attendant bring him a cup of coffee,
* And while the anecdote is supposed to illustrate how A-Rod just wasn't one of the guys, what comes across in that coffee story is just how much Alex seemed to crave Torre's approval. It's kind of sad and pathetic, actually.
Here's the thing. I don't doubt that A-Rod was difficult to manage, and needy, and egotistical, and an attention magnet. Heck, I've been ticked off at him myself for the opting-out drama, and for the Madonna shenanigans. But he also had two MVP seasons for Torre, and as I noted yesterday, the Yanks would have completely missed the playoffs in 2005 and 2007 if it weren't for Alex.
And for all the negative things Torre had to say about Rodriguez, he still openly courted A-Rod in the media to join the Dodgers when A-Rod opted out last season. So while the book claims that Alex Rodriguez had a so-called "Single White Female" fixation on teammate Derek Jeter, it looks more like Torre was the one with the fixation - on Alex!
But what do you think? Leave us a comment!