No book in recent memory has received as much advanced notice as Joe Torre’s new tell all book, “The Yankee Years,” co-authored by Sport Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, which is getting its official launch in bookstores today.
The book chronicles Torre’s 12-year run as manager of the New York Yankees. The story Torre tells reveals not only things about him personally, but about his opinions of others, as well as what went on behind the closed doors of the Yankees’ clubhouse and board rooms.
Numerous excerpts from the book reveal Torre’s critical views of Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, General Manager Brian Cashman, team President Randy Levine, along with former players Alex Rodriguez, David Wells, Kevin Brown, and Carl Pavano. Torre said Steinbrenner was a ‘tyrant,’ and he felt he was abandoned by Cashman in a 2007 meeting in Tampa, Florida when Cashman remained quiet about a possible two-year deal he and Torre discussed the day before the meeting. He also felt Levine had it in for him and tried to get him fired for several seasons after Torre told him to “shut up” during a conference call meeting.
As for the players Torre admitted he and Wells didn’t like each other and that Wells went out of his way to make life miserable for him during their Yankee association. He said Brown had demons and wasn’t a fighter, Rodriguez strained the feeling in the clubhouse after arriving in 2004 by corralling all the attention, and that A-Rod cared more for how he looked in a situation rather than just getting the job done. In describing Carl Pavano’s relationship with teammates Torre said, “The players all hated him. It was no secret.”
Initial reaction to the books has been mixed, although most of the criticism has been negative. Wells came out swinging and said on two sports talk shows in Los Angeles and New York that what Torre did was divulge privileged information that should always stay behind closed doors. He called Torre a “punk” for spilling the beans about what goes on between player and player and players and management.
Another tell all author, former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton, whose book “Ball Four” told about Mickey Mantle’s night life and other tidbits from the Yankees locker room in the ’60s said there is no sanctity in the clubhouse. He said that books are going to be written, and if someone doesn’t want unkind or negative things written about them don’t be a “jerk.”
After the initial excerpts from Torre’s book were published in print around the country Torre went on ‘Larry King Live’ to defend his exposé. He told King he didn’t think anything he told in his book was out of bounds.
“When I talked about what went on in the clubhouse, I don’t think there was any sensitive material that shouldn’t have been in there. There is nothing in that book that went on in the clubhouse that I would rewrite in any way.”
Torre felt that he didn’t make any enemies, nor did he burn any bridges in New York.
Is Torre serious? How does he think the Steinbrenner family is going to take it when they read Torre’s telling of George Steinbrenner’s failing health or how he felt relieved when he finally knew his time in New York was at an end? How about all the players he criticized? Can you imagine running into some of these guys at an Old Timer’s Day function? Torre told King he didn’t think there would be any animosity between he and A-Rod if they met down the road.
“All I can say, and unless I’m just completely off base, I think there’d be a hug involved,” Torre said at the time. “And I don’t think it would be forced by either one of us. . . . I don’t think there’s anything in this book that’s going to make Alex angry or keep us from being friends.”
Pardon me, but unless I’m completely off base, when you describe someone as having a ‘single white female’ syndrome with another player (for those who never saw the movie of the same name, it’s when you act, and dress like someone you envy or worship), you’re a drama queen, changing the atmosphere of a clubhouse and grabbing all the attention I don’t think your relationship with that person is ever going to be on the same level.
Torre does this all under the guise of “honesty.” Well, Joe, there is a time to be honest and there’s a time to be smart. If you were leaning over someone whose leg was just blown off and he asks you, “is it bad,” you’re not going to look at him and say, “yeah Jim, you’re bleeding to death.” What Torre did was violate the trust of many of those he was associated within the Yankee organization.
Torre may have a runaway best seller, as there will be people out there buying the book purely, because they hate the Yankees so much they’ll absorb anything that reflects negatively on the team, and there will be the curious who will buy the book just because they wonder what all the fuss is about. No matter what the reason Torre will sell a lot of books, but there will be a price to pay.
Torre’s legacy in New York is going to take a hit. Good guy Joe is going to come off looking like a vindictive weasel in many corners of the Big Apple. Whether he thinks so or not he has damaged his relationship with the organization that gave him his greatest opportunity for success.
No one who has played for Torre or is playing for Torre right now will look at him and not think ‘is he going to write about me someday?’ No. 6 may be retired in Monument Park someday, but it may not have the name “Joe Torre” etched below it. You might be the most honest man on earth Mr. Torre, but no one is going to give you the time of day if they can’t trust you.
What’s that I smell burning???