Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oops! Joe Torre's own timeline of book deal shows big conflict of interest for Tom Verducci

I am still trying to have my stomach settled enough to finish watching the rest of Joe Torre's "Larry King Live" appearance, as the self-serving Torre comments I read in the transcript of the show sounded pretty nauseating.

But something Torre said at the beginning of the show caught my eye. And he may have opened up an ethical can of worms for co-author Tom Verducci.

When asked about how "The Yankee Years" came about, he told King Tom Verducci approached him about the book idea when Torre was still manager of the Yankees. Here's how Joe described it (my emphasis added below):

Well, I guess a little over two years ago, Tom Verducci approached me with an idea. Tom wrote my first book, "Chasing A Dream." And he had the idea let's, you know, do a narrative, which is what this book is. It's a chronicle about my 12 years in New York and, really, the changes that took place in baseball during those 12 years and a lot of the stuff that hasn't been talked about. And, to me, this book is going to sit on shelves. It's going to be a piece of history, because it tells you the changes.

It's a piece of something, alright.

Here's the problem with Joe's own chronology - he's inadvertently shown that his co-author had a gaping conflict of interest here in writing about Torre in his day job, without revealing his own financial interest with him.

Remember that the Verducci-Torre tag team A-Rod smear job "Lonely Yankee" cover story ran in Sports Illustrated a little over two years ago. Sounds like, as I heard somebody online describe it, that article was a trial run for this book, and that the two decided to collaborate on the book around the same time they were collaborating on throwing A-Rod under the bus.

I noted in a Squawker blog entry earler this week how Verducci wrote a searing column in Sports Illustrated last fall about the end of the Torre era, entitled "Yanks Have Blood on Their Hands." Among other things, he accused the Yankee brass of letting "corporate cowardice be their guide."

The column is a one-sided defense of Torre, and a evisceration of the Yankee front office. And Verducci wrote it at the very same time he was working on a book with Joe Torre! How is that even allowed?

And it gets better. As I noted in my earlier squawk, Randy Levine, one of Verducci's targets in the column, cried foul at the time. The New York Times wrote about it last fall:

Levine questioned Verducci's objectivity because he collaborated on Torre's 1997 autobiography, ''Chasing the Dream.'' ''They had a financial relationship,'' Levine said.
Verducci said he didn't regard disclosure of his old Torre book deal as necessary in his first critical article about Levine. Still, at some journalistic outposts, he would have been prohibited from having such a relationship with someone on his beat.

''It's 10 years ago and clearly a matter of public record,'' he said. ''So I don't regard it as anything that's covert at all.''

Well, the new book project was pretty darn covert, and not a matter of public record at the time. Like I said, Torre's own timeline says that Verducci approached him about a new book a little over two years ago. Yet Verducci was defending Joe in Sports Illustrated and not revealing his own financial interest in spinning the Torre story.

I thought it was enough of a conflict of interest for Verducci to have written another column on the Yankee front office, as he did just last month, without noting in the article that he was doing this book. But this latest revelation really takes the cake!

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Anonymous said...

who cares?
pitchers and catchers reporting soon!!

She-Fan said...

What gave me pause was when Torre said he thought his book would be a piece of history. Pretty lofty goal.

Anonymous said...

From the Torre book:
“Back in 2004, at first Rodriguez did his best to try and fit into the Yankee culture—his cloying, B Grade actor best” “He slathered on the polish. People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel were calling him ‘A-Fraud’ behind his back.”

From the King interview:
TORRE: ...after he had a—maybe a bad night or had made an error—an error.
And he says who is it today, is it A-Rod or A-Fraud, you know?
And it was right there in front of him. It wasn’t like anything was said behind his back.

Which one is it?

Anonymous said...

"Which one is it?"

Considering Bowa wasn't with the team in 2004 how did he know about it?

Anonymous said...

If Torre wanted this to be a true piece of history, he would have shared his critique of all key players and not just the ones he felt fans wouldn't mind hearing bad things about.

David Wells may have been awkward in his delivery but his point does seem to resonate. You get treated well if you are one of Joe's guys and the rest get different treatment. In the case of this book, a trip to the slaughterhouse.

Anonymous said...

In the book - Torre says people were saying A-Fraud "behind his back"

Last night Torre said "it wasn't like anything was said behind his back"

Maybe Joe should say "I stand behind all the words of the book except the parts I contradict."

Anonymous said...

Its all laughable at this point. The only people who think it was okay for him to write some of the things he put in this book are people who can't separate the act from the person. Those with a simple thought process.

Like man=like every thing he does

Don't like man=don't like what he does (and don't care if someone does something wrong against him)

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Piece of something! Hahaha! Lisa, you have earned my loyalty back.

First of all, I understand what my good friend "km" feelings are, but, in the mean time, we have nothing else to discuss.

Somebody said that Torre's timing was great because it was pre Super Bowl when there is nothing much going on.

What I'm going to say is going to disturb all Torre's lovers and Cashman's haters. Torre is the LEAST qualified to now what changes were going thru in baseball. If he was CLUELESS enough to be mad at Cashman for not bringing back Bernie Williams after 2006, that single sample disqualifies him at all. Bernie sucked after 2002.

And I mean no disrespect for Bernie Williams, I rooted for the guy, Torre could learn from Bernie's demeanor and I have his CD (great!). But teams are not family, they are a business and sometimes you have to make harsh decisions.

As I have stated before, Cashman said a couple of years ago that the economics of baseball changed and that is why the Yankee drafts have been mainly pitchers.

I'm not a Cashman hater because I have seen that he has learned something along the years.

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