Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pillsbury ‘Joe’Boy: Torre Gives Cookie-Cutter Answers on WFAN

Joe Torre was about a half hour late to his much anticipated radio interview on WFAN with Mike Francesa. He ironically made us all wait anxiously for him in the same way we awaited the release of his controversial book The Yankee Years.

Amidst a very hectic book signing tour, Torre sat down to attempt to clear up any animosity felt from New York’s side of the equation. Yankee fans were a ticking time bomb waiting for him to slip up and say the wrong thing, to give them all a reason to put the final nail into Joe’s Yankee coffin.

He of course never did. Torre tiptoed around sensitive topics, and fabricated responses to others. He ‘owned up’ to certain phrases scattered throughout the book, yet filtered the blame for others down to co-author Tom Verducci. Joe sounded rather rehearsed, as if his publicist was talking through him. To be fair, I suppose that is to be expected.

Torre may not have made any comments that will appear on the back page of the New York Post, but he did attempt to explain himself by addressing the key topics:
Torre on the book itself:
-Joe was “very surprised at the reaction and fallout from the book”, and felt in his heart that “he never violated the sanctity of the clubhouse.”
-He claimed that he paid strict attention to only releasing information that was already suspected by the media, or that supplied insight into a player’s true personality.
-He agreed to write the book before the 2007 season, and “would have written it even if he were still a Yankee.”

Torre on his motivation:
-He wanted to “celebrate the twelve years that he spent in NY”, as well as to show how hard it truly was to assemble a dynasty — as opposed to public perception.
-Joe also wanted to “give a taste of the truth of what goes on in baseball.”
-The book was a two-year project, and was not founded on bitterness. However, he does admit that “the last chapter would have been different” had he stayed in pinstripes.

Torre on Wells (who threatened to knock him out):
-“I’d guess that he hasn’t read the book yet.”
-Joe acknowledged that they had their differences, and added that “Wells and Kevin Brown drove me nuts from time to time.”

Torre on A-Rod/A-Fraud:
-He felt that Alex “was trying to be something he wasn’t”, and that he “put on an act.”
-Joe echoed Larry Bowa’s comments that ‘A-Fraud’ was an open and public joke among coaches and Alex, not a cruel mockery behind his back.
-He thinks A-Rod will win here and find a way to relax under pressure. He wants him to “trust his ability more than trying to be perfect.”

Torre on Cashman:
-Their relationship began to change in 2006 as a result of Cashman’s valuing of numbers analysis over the heart and potential of players.
-They argued over OBP being the determining factor in not bringing Bernie Williams back as a bench player.
-He feels that Cashman wanted him back for one more year, but went along with Hank, Hal, and Randy Levine in not offering a multi-year contract.
-Joe believes that Cashman “saved him once or twice from the hatchet,” but that he feels he no longer had an ally when he left the Bronx.

Torre on player personnel decisions:
-Joe wanted Tino Martinez and Nick Johnson for first base, and did not advocate the signing of Jason Giambi. He felt that “a move to sluggers was not the way to go.”
-Following the 2003 World Series, he told Cashman to trade Weaver for Kevin Brown.
-His biggest disappointments were the acquisitions of Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson. He admits that “Pavano was at the top of my list,” and that he did not expect Johnson to be so uncomfortable in NY.

Torre on regret:
-There is nothing that he said that he wishes was not included in the book, nor does he have any second thoughts on the process.
-Joe does regret the language that Tom Verducci used in describing Alex Rodriguez, and stated that he had nothing to do with the ‘single white female obsession’ comments.

Torre on possibly tainting his Yankee legacy:
-He said that he “can’t concern himself with what people think because he can’t change it.”
-He “can’t control it affecting his legacy,” but again stated that he “loved his twelve years here.”
It is very interesting that Joe refuses to admit that bitterness played a role in the book, or that he would be crushed if his legacy were destroyed in the Bronx.

If a utility infielder like Cody Ransom is wearing Torre’s former #6 come April, I am sure that he will be very upset at the realization that he will never receive a Yankee monument.

Perhaps Torre does not want to give the Yankees the satisfaction in knowing that he would be miserable in losing his reputation in the city that constructed his Hall of Fame coaching career. Like it or not, Joe may just have to face that truth.

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