Archive for Joe Torre
While I’m still waiting on my copy of The Yankee Years, one thing is clear about this whole Joe Torre dust: His reputation is in tatters. He broke the age-old code of writing about the clubhouse, and he will pay a price for it.
Exhibit A: Wallace Matthews reports, in a column to which Joe linked last night, that Joe Torre will not be welcome at the new Yankee Stadium. Torre was conspicuously absent during the closing ceremonies for the new stadium, but this is probably the final straw.
The Yanks can be rather petty too. Number Six will not earn its place among the retired numbers, and Torre won’t get the recognition from the team he deserves following the success he enjoyed over his twelve years in the Bronx. I’m not sure which side gets to claim the high ground here.
Exhibit B: Cooperstown. This is where I leave the debate up to our RAB readers. A quick scan of the headlines reveals stories similar to this one by John Harper. By opening his mouth, Torre has damaged his standing among the sportswriters who once idolized him, and it jeopardizes his Hall of Fame standing.
So a poll:
The Week of Torre continues late Wednesday into Thursday. In this installment, we find out from Wallace Matthews that the Yankees want to include an NDA in future player and manager contracts. Instead of non-disclosure agreement, though, they’re going with a “non-disparagement” agreement “in order to prevent any more tell-all books.” So former employees can disclose parts of their tenure with the Yankees, so long as they’re not portraying the team in a negative light. Sounds like the makings of some compelling literature.
The Yankees only want former employees to write books which are “positive in tone.” Well, of course they do. No one in the Yankees front office is happy that Joe Torre wrote this book. It says some mean things about them. They’d prefer it if they could control that type of speech so they wouldn’t have to deal with the PR issues.
That doesn’t mean that Torre shouldn’t be able to write it. He lived it, supposedly, so why shouldn’t he be able to chronicle it and sell it to anyone willing to buy? That’s the point, isn’t it? People will buy it, so he and Verducci wrote it. That’s what they wanted, and that’s what they’ll get.
As we’ve seen over the course of the week, this has not been without fallout. Matthews tells us in another column that “David Wells will be named the team nutritionist before Torre is invited back to the Bronx.” The player reaction obviously hasn’t been positive. Even some fans are turning against the legendary former skipper. Everyone’s getting theirs, it seems.
Like an overnight post I did on Mark Teixeira back in December, this is my last post on the Joe Torre fiasco. Hey, when I said that about Tex the Yanks signed him the next day. Maybe something cool will happen today.
What I love about the nightly open thread is that we can write about basically anything. If you find it boring, irrelevant, or overdone, you can just skip over the post and dive into the comments. If you want to use the post as a jumping off point you can, but there’s certainly no obligation to do so.
Why did I open like this? Because I saved up some articles relating to the Joe Torre book, and I figured I’d dump them on you in the open thread, rather than litter your day with them. I know a lot of people are sick of the topic. Even for those who aren’t, it’s a tough topic to navigate because so few of us, if any of us, have read the book. We’re going on reactions. But they can be fun too, right?
First up is Ken Davidoff. He wrote about Brian Cashman‘s relationship with Joe Torre following the 2005 season. Yet before he gets into that, he says something about A-Rod which I think is worth repeating:
And as Tyler [Kepner] points out, if Mariano Rivera had just picked up the save in 2004 ALCS Game 4, then Alex Rodriguez would’ve been riding a monster first two rounds into the World Series, and we wouldn’t be standing here today, dissecting A-Rod the way we do.
Of course, this isn’t blaming Mo, just like “if he hadn’t thrown the ball into center field we would have won the 2001 series” isn’t blaming Mo. It does bring up an interesting point, though. People also kill A-Rod for striking out with a man on third and less than two outs in the game, and then dismiss his early home run. This I will never understand. Sans the home run, Mo doesn’t have a lead to blow.
Next up, and also relating to A-Rod, is a statement by Brian Cashman. Bryan Hoch brings it to us.
“I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Cashman said on Monday during a conference call to announce Andy Pettitte‘s one-year contract.
I’m not so sure this will bring anyone closer together. Cashman does have a point, though: the team has been through all this. They’ve dealt with A-Rod for five years now. I doubt anything Torre makes public in the book will change how the guys on the team view him now.
Finally, Jack Curry has some quotes from Torre on the book. The former Yanks’ skipper made it clear that he never used the word “betrayal,” despite every tabloid in the city saying so. He also had a comment on A-Rod: “I don’t think I said anything about A-Rod that I didn’t say already.” Yeah, that you didn’t already say to Tom Verducci. Thankfully, it appears A-Rod is taking this all in stride.
This is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks and the Nets are off tonight, the Hurricanes are in the Garden, and the Devils are in Ottawa.
By the end of this week or the beginning of next, RAB will have its copy of The Yankee Years. After reading it — and only then — will any of us be in a position to comment on the controversy that has exploded across the pages of the New York tabloids and more reputable newspapers this week.
We have all seen an excerpt, but that’s hardly conclusive. The rest of us who haven’t read the book are simply basing our opinions on the raging “he said-he said” debate. All that leads to is a bunch of ill-informed sweeping pronouncements about who’s right and who’s wrong.
While we’re waiting for the book — now with eager anticipation — one aspect has emerged as the truth, and it is a truth that has been dominating Yankee coverage since 2004: It is, for better or worse, all about Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. Torre, from the early reports, never thought too fondly of A-Rod. The Yanks’ one-time skipper supposedly couldn’t reach the seemingly cerebral slugger, and A-Rod was envious of Torre favorite Derek Jeter while others in the clubhouse weren’t fond of A-Rod.
“We never really had anybody who craved the attention. I think when Alex came over, he certainly changed the feel of the club,” Torre writes in his book. Of course, baseball-wise A-Rod had a little bit of an impact too. The game’s best hitter will do that.
The Yanks, of course, are rallying around A-Rod. “I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Yanks GM Brian Cashman said during Monday’s Andy Pettitte conference call.”There’s always going to be some controversy that surrounds this club. The best way to try to deal with it is, I guess, rally around each other the best you can if there’s real feelings there.”
Defend each is is, after all, what a team is supposed do, and Pettitte got right to it. “I have never one time heard of the term `A-Fraud’ until I saw that rolling on the TV, I guess this morning or whenever they started reporting it,” he said. “If it did go on, it went on before I was there.”
For their part, A-Rod’s team is fighting back through anonymous quotes in The Post, according to NJ.com. That’s fighting fire with, um, fire.
No matter how this soap opera plays itself out though, A-Rod will remain front and center. Since joining the Yankees in 2004, he has been far and away the team’s most productive hitter, but between his perceived playoff failures, his divorce and Madonna, he’s made more than his fair share of back pages for non-baseball related antics as he has for his baseball heroics. Until the Yankees win a title with A-Rod, he will remain this powerful, polarizing figure. It’s just the way it is, and no matter what it ultimately says overall, Torre’s book is just another part of the Alex Rodriguez circus. With that bat around, though, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Torre book drama started yesterday and has been a steady source of conversation into today. Problem is, few if any of us have actually read it. Over at SI, they have an excerpt from the book which revolves around late October 2007. Torre obviously feels betrayed, but if you can look past his “my flaw is that I’m the good guy” rhetoric, you can see that the Yankees had come to a decision, and they intended to follow through on it. One year, take it or leave it. Torre left it, and that was that. Well, until this book was written, that is.
Torre apparently did pitch an idea to Cashman, and to an outsider it doesn’t sound half bad:
“Cash, I have an idea. What about a two-year contract? It doesn’t even really matter what the money is. Two years, and if I get fired in the first year, the second year is guaranteed. But if I get fired after the first year, I don’t get the full amount of the second year, just a buyout. The money doesn’t matter. I mean, as long as it’s not just something ridiculous. It’s not about the money. It’s the second year.”
Apparently, though, the Yankees were not willing to do that. Torre claims that, based on a post-meeting encounter with Brian Cashman, that the GM never even floated the idea to management.
Cashman looked at Torre oddly, as if this were something new. “Uh, I really didn’t understand it,” Cashman said. “Remind me, what was it again?”
Cashman then went back into the room, supposedly approached the Steinbrenners with the idea, and emerged less than a minute later with a response in the negative. Torre’s quote on this: “I’m thinking, Well, s—! He never told them!” I’m not so sure it’s that simple. From the beginning, it seemed like the Yankees knew what they wanted, and Torre knew what he wanted. The Yankees gave Torre their firm offer, and he deemed it unacceptable. They apparently were not keen on his idea.
I imagine everyone in the Yankees front office was in a tight spot during this time. Torre was a beloved manager of 12 years, an unprecedented run in the Steinbrenner Era. He wanted to come back. The Yankees were only interested under their terms. I’m not sure I can fault them on that. Argue if you want about the manner in which it was handled. But if the Yankees only wanted Torre back under their terms, and Torre did not accept those terms, well, that seems pretty ordinary to me.
You can hear more about the book on the MLB Network…right about now. Matt Vasgersian will interview Tom Verducci on Hot Stove at 7. So you can check that after or while you read the excerpt.
This is your open thread for the evening. The NHL has a night off after the All-Star game, the Rockets are in the Garden, and the Nets are out on OK City. For you Big East nuts like me, you can catch Marquette at Notre Dame at 7 on ESPN.
In response to yesterday’s hoopla about Joe Torre’s new book, the book’s co-author, SI’s Tom Verducci, answered some questions about the controversy. He claims that it is a third-person account, and that, as the headline says, Torre doesn’t rip anyone, and that “[i]t’s not a tell-all book.” He goes on to say that the book is a third-person narrative. While it’s nice to now know the point of view the authors employed, I don’t think this fact alone gets Torre off the hook.
Meanwhile, Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times offers up a review in Sunday’s paper. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit more even-handed than the tabloid accounts we saw yesterday. It talks about the actual focus of the book, the post-2001 decline, rather than a few cherry-picked anecdotes. Again, none of this comes as a shocking revelation.
That said, third person point of view or not, it does appear Torre got in his shots:
The book does not hide Torre’s bitterness over his departure in 2007 (he was offered a one-year contract that involved a pay cut in his base salary) and takes a few swipes at the general manager, Brian Cashman, and some players — most notably, Alex Rodriguez.
The quote on A-Rod used in this review: “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.” There’s also a bit on Jason Giambi, whom Torre says “wasn’t part of what we prided ourselves on: playing well defensively.” So I guess the whole book isn’t third person.
Kakutani notes one of the book’s shortcomings:
This book often fails to detail Torre’s role in the decisions made over these years. His reactions to the signing of Giambi and management’s refusal to grant Williams a guaranteed contract in 2007 are duly noted, but in other instances, it’s unclear to what degree he protested specific choices made by the front office or its lack of a long-term rebuilding strategy.
I’m sure it also doesn’t discuss Torre’s on-field decisions, which had drawn the ire of fans for the last four or five years of his tenure. Despite the point of view, the book is Torre’s take on those years, and in all likelihood he didn’t see much fault in himself. What I also find strange is that he has these unkind words about the way the teams were constructed after 2001, yet he wanted to come back and manage that same team in 2008 and beyond. That, perhaps, is why many will view this as Torre taking swipes on his way out the door.
In the end, this has turned into more a marketing scheme than anything. Now we’re all talking about the book. There have been controversial claims made in the book. The only way to give it all context is to read it.
P.S. Joshua Robinson at the Bats blog has a great line from the Torre: “One thing I’ve learned is that people are going to feel the way they’re going to feel, regardless of what happened.” That means you too, Joe. That means you too.
All the rave on this Sunday morning relates to Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, which is due in stores on February 3. Tabloid reports focus on two main aspects: Alex Rodriguez and Brian Cashman. You can check out the report on NJ.com if you want to check out the tabloids, but I’m not linking them here. I know we’ve basically broken the tabloid ban, but these headlines are perfect examples of what we don’t like about those two outlets.
First, Mr. Cashman. The complaint levied in the book, or at least how the media portrays it, is that Cash didn’t stand up for Torre at the end of the 2007 season. I guess Torre’s ire stems from Cashman’s public stance that he supported Torre. Yet both can be true. Cashman might have favored the one-year deal the Yankees were willing to offer, but not the two-year deal Torre sought. In any event, I can’t see the reason for any harsh feelings between the two. Cashman did stand up for Torre and had him brought back after the 2004 season.
Regarding A-Rod, is this anything we didn’t know before? It’s not like any of us think he’s a model citizen. He’s an insecure bastard who happens to hit baseball really well. This isn’t some shocking revelation. It will continue to fuel the fire of those who dislike Alex for his personality, and will ignite a spark in those who defend him for his baseball skills. I hope we can avoid this discussion in the ensuing comment thread. The important point, I think, (and as ‘The’ Steve pointed out) I wonder how his current players feel about him publicly slamming a former player?
These are just two points in a 400-plus-page book. They’re the juiciest details, so that’s what the tabloids will pick up. What will make someone buy a paper: a headline which includes the term “A-Fraud” and “betrayal”, or a headline that says “Torre speaks mostly well of time with Yankees”? So please, let’s reserve judgment until we all actually read it. If we do at all, that is.
* Another revelation was that the Yankees team doctors told George Steinbrenner that Torre had prostate cancer before they told Torre himself. I have no idea what to say about this charge. If true, that’s a pretty deep violation of ethics and the law.
At this stage in his career, with 13 straight playoff appearances and four World Series rings as a manager, Joe Torre is probably the most deserving non-Hall of Famer around. While he never received more than 22 percent of the vote while on the player ballot, he is again up for eligibility under the rules of the Veterans Committee, and this time, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer explores, he just might make it in. The Veterans Committee is tasked with considering a candidate’s “total contributions to the game of baseball,” and I think that Torre has a legitimate case for inclusion in Cooperstown. Despite his unpleasant departure from New York and his recent lack of playoff success, I’d vote for him given the chance.
I’m really torn about Joe Torre’s Dodgers this year. On the one hand, I feel bad for Torre. The Steinbrenners didn’t handle his exit very well last year, and this playoff berth is a bid middle finger to the October-less Yankees. On the other, Torre didn’t impress me in his post-dismissal press conference, and I thought that the Yanks should have moved on after the failures of 2004 when Torre’s managerial flaws were laid out for all to see.
Yesterday, before the Dodgers lost to Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and the Phillies 3-2, Harvey Aarton chatted with the Dodgers’ skipper who feels satisfied with his team’s playoff appearance. Torre was careful to avoid the word vindicated no matter how often Aarton pressed him on it.
Larry Bowa, meanwhile, was the attack dog to Torre’s green tea persona. “I know Joe is never going to admit it, but I think it means a lot to him to be at this stage right now,” said Larry Bowa. “You keep reading that, well, he should have gone to the playoffs because of your payroll in New York. But they had the same payroll this year and they didn’t get in.”
I get where Bowa is coming from. I get where Torre is coming from. And I certainly get why the tabloids are proclaiming the playoffs Yankee fans’ worst nightmare. But it’s a false storyline. Through July 31, the Dodgers were a .500 team, hanging two back behind an underperforming Diamondbacks club. After Manny Ramirez arrived, the team went 30-24 and earned a playoff berth with a record five games worse than the Yankees’.
Maybe it was the presence of Joe Torre in LA. But the 84 wins are his team’s lowest full-season total since he skippered the 1992 Cardinals to an 83-win, third-place finish. I think, on the other hand, that Manny probably played a bigger role in the end that Torre did.
Now don’t get me wrong; I loved Joe Torre while he was in the Bronx. I wish him well during the playoffs, and I don’t begrudge him his playoff spot. I certainly don’t have nightmares about him. I do think it was time for him to leave New York. All good things must end, and Joe Torre’s tenure in the Bronx was no exception.
A moment ago, the Diamondbacks lost to the Cardinals, and the Dodgers clinched the NL West. For the 13th season in a row, Joe Torre has managed his team to the playoffs. While the media will soon be all over St. Joe for this one, the Yankees have clinched at least the same record as the Dodgers, and LA plays in a weaker division. Manny Ramirez also deserves a lot of credit for driving the Dodgers to the playoffs. But for all that, I’ll tip my cap to Joe. That streak is quite an accomplishment, and this playoff berth is the reason why the Dodgers signed him.