Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Squawker feels vindicated about the real Joe Torre

A few more comments on Joe Torre's "The Yankee Years" while I not-so-patiently wait for my Snuggie shipment to arrive. (And yes, I know I've written a ton on Joe already, but this book is the gift that keeps on giving!)

First off, if I can toot my own horn a little, now that the book is coming out, I feel like I've been completely vindicated regarding my many, many negative comments about Torre over the years in Subway Squawkers. Granted, I've been wrong on things a ton of times, too, like thinking that the Yanks lost out on not getting Eric Gagne, and thinking that Pudge Rodriguez was a great pickup. So please allow me to gloat that I was right on one thing!)

Heck, if anything, Torre was even nastier, and more of a phony, than I thought he was.

For example, what reason did he have to embarrass Bernie Williams, one of own his favorite players, by writing that Bernie once forgot to take home his child, and his wife at the Stadium at separate times?

Anyhow, as longtime Squawkers readers know, these were my main arguments against Torre over the last few years of his management:

* He was hailed as being the only manager who could manage all those egos, but he was really was only interested in 'his guys", the ones who he won the rings with. And because of that, the cliques in his clubhouse didn't work well together as a team.

* He despised A-Rod with a passion, and took Derek Jeter's side, instead of trying to get the two of them to work together. And he did everything he could - collaborating with Tom Verducci on that 2006 hit piece, batting Alex eighth - to make sure everybody knew how little he thought of A-Rod.

* He didn't really seem interested in winning championships anymore, content to be happy with making the playoffs. When he had the four rings, it was all his great leadership, but in the 2000s, he decided that winning in the playoffs was all a crapshoot.

* He seem bored with the team, and looked like he was asleep in the dugout each night. He was so lethargic, he couldn't even get up to fight about the bug game. And the team reflected his lethargy.

* Joe was completely unwilling to adjust to the changing times, or to look at a stat sheet. Other teams outmaneuvered him, and outmanaged him, in the playoffs.

* Torre was obsessed with image, more interested in having he and his team look classy than in fighting tough. He wouldn't let his players brush back opponents anymore, or even bunt on an injured Curt Schillilng.

* He was terrible in managing a bullpen, chronically overworking some arms, while underworking others. The Joba Rules were designed by Brian Cashman to protect Torre from himself.

* He was more interested in making more money from the Yankees, and managing in the new stadium, than he was in getting the Yankees another world championship.

* Heavy steroid usage was going on in his own clubhouse, but he looked the other way.

So far, while I haven't gotten to read the book yet, only snippets and excerpts, it sounds like the nothing in "The Yankee Years" contradicts anything I previously thought of Torre. So much for St. Joe.

But what do you think? Leave us a comment.


Anonymous said...

Lisa, I, like you was never a big Joe Torre fan. Early years had the talented, motivated players to win--not all superstars but good players with the "desire" to win. Terrible in managing the pitching staff, but sounded good when addressing the media. Once called clueless Joe and truely now can be called classless Joe! I am sure every manager in baseball could write a "tell all" book about their experiences but when it has to do with the Yankees, you know it is going to sell and be a money maker for Torre. Cost of living in LA must be higher than NY.

Symphony said...

I think many Joe defenders don't care because the book doesn't say much of anything about those in the inner circle (Andy, Jorge, Derek and Mo). The guys he talks about are ones that, for the most part, the fans either don't care about or despise (with the exception of Wells). It was calculated.

I'm trying to figure out the purpose of him writing that Cashman thought it was Jeter's fault that the ball fell between Jeter and A-Rod in a game in 2006. Maybe that is one where I'll wait for context. Was it because it cost them a game? Did that game start a losing streak or something?

So what? Cashman thought Jeter made a mistake. He's been known to make a mistake or two in the field.

The stuff about Kevin Brown having emotional problems and demons? I listened to Boomer Esiason try to say it was baseball (demons). I'm curious if its that, but I don't think that's what Torre is talking about.

I think some things are better left unsaid unless its by the person. Alex's father abandonment issues should have been off limits too.

I don't recall anyone writing about Joe Torre's demons and father abandonment issues.

Symphony said...

You're right Lisa. Torre helped to foster the decline of the clubhouse with "his guys". Wonder if he takes any responsibility in this book.

If he doesn't its a sham. The truth means telling the truth about yourself. So let me know Lisa, if he tells the whole truth.

She-Fan said...

While I didn't always agree with Torre's managing - from the bullpen to the bugs - I always liked him and, more importantly, I thought the players liked him. I'll be very interested to see what he has to say on Larry King on Friday night. No softball questions, Larry!

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...


Lisa Swan said...

Symphony, I think Joe had such blinders on against A-Rod, and for Jeter, that he considered it a personal affront that Cashman would even think Jeter would be the one at fault. The umpires, incidentally, agreed with Cashman and gave the error to Jeter. And Derek, believe it or not, was overheard complaining to the official scorer after the game to get the error given to A-Rod!

It was not, to put it mildly, one of Jeter's better moments as a Yankee (he also glared at A-Rod after the play). But it didn't become a huge story because the
Yanks had the five-game Red Sox sweep after this.

To put the popup thing in perspective, this was the summer of 2006, at a time when A-Rod was getting constantly badgered by the fans, and when he was doing very poorly defensively. The whole thing was really bad form on Jeter's part, and I thought it was probably Derek's worst moment as captain.

Symphony said...

Thanks for the response Lisa. Maybe Jeter forgot the comments he gave Wells after Boomer showed them up after they screwed up behind him.

I also have to say that Joe has opened up discussions that will lead to comments like Mike Mussina's, when he talked about Mo blowing the World Series game in 2001 and the two games in 2004 ALCS (game 4 and 5). Comments that the "inner circle guys will forever get a pass for current lousy play because of what they did ten years ago" fans and media won't like.

Everyone is quick to say the Yanks haven't won since the new guys showed up but like Moose said, Mo blew some games but its still the new guys who get the blame for no rings.

No one wants to call out Mo for his blown saves or Jeter's poor batting average as cause for the Yanks not winning. Its always the lame "haven't won since the new guys showed up" argument.

Equal distribution of responsibility. Lets practice it.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Symphony, I never quite understood why after every early exit from the playoffs Jeter comments were "this is not the same team."

Jeter: get over it!

d said...


I honestly have to say at this point you are the best Yankee sportswriter in the world. I have been following the Yanks since I was a kid in the 70's and have read countless articles but your point of view and conviction of strength are dead on. Thank you for bringing some sense in the sometimes mad world of the Yankees.

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