If it was Joe Torre’s intent to set the New York Yankees world on its ear, then his campaign has been an overwhelming success.
Ever since excerpts from Torre’s new book “The Yankee Years” co-authored by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated fame hit the media the sports world and the Big Apple in particular has been abuzz talking about the merits or the lack thereof regarding Torre’s exposé.
In every sports section you read from the NY Post to the NY Daily News there is something in print about Torre’s book. The same thing goes for television and radio as well. You cannot turn on a local, FOX or ESPN channel or station and not see or hear something about “the book.”
The initial reaction to Torre’s book form words was met with general hostility, causing Torre to go on a whirlwind television tour. He’s appeared on the “the Late Show with David Letterman,” “Larry King Live” and “Live with Regis & Kelly” to name a few to talk about and defend his book. In every instance Torre told hosts and viewers alike he did not betray clubhouse secrets, and that everything he wrote was already out in the open. He said all he was doing was chronicling his 12-year association as manager of the New York Yankees. He admits he was critical of several players, including David Wells, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson, but in doing so he said nothing that he felt was betraying a trust.
Torre has stated for the record he doesn’t think he’s burned any bridges with the Yankees, even though he has been critical of principal owner George Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman. Torre called Steinbrenner a “tyrant,” but felt the Boss would be proud of the way he is described in the book. He also goes into detail describing Steinbrenner’s failing health, which the Yankees’ organization and the Steinbrenner family has tried to keep as veiled as possible.
Torre believes he won’t have problems with Alex Rodriguez whom he basically describes as a self-absorbed, attention grabbing narcissist who changed the mood of the Yankee clubhouse after his arrival in 2004. He believes if he and A-Rod meet down the road they’ll greet each other cordially and give each other a hug.
Torre describes other players and incidents as well, but that’s not to say the entire book is a hack piece about the Yankees. Torre also describes interesting stats and stories in telling about his 12-year history with the most famous franchise in sports. Even the most critical, diehard, Yankees’ fan will find much of the book exciting to read.
That said, what Torre has said negatively about the players mentioned in his book has now brought media scrutiny toward these players’ former and current teammates; specifically Rodriguez. A-Rod, because of his larger than life standing in baseball, is a lightning rod for controversy. With so much being negatively pointed out by Torre Rodriguez’s teammates have had to come to his defense.
Derek Jeter said in reports yesterday, “We’ve been down this road before. Alex is a teammate. I support him. Our whole team is behind him. We all support him. To be quite honest with you, it’s old hearing the same questions. It’s something that’s been addressed before in the past. Everyone’s moved beyond it. And it doesn’t really need to be addressed again.” Now does that sound like Jeter and Rodriguez would kiss and hug? Obviously not, but what it does say is that Jeter is in A-Rod’s corner as a teammate and has no personal issues with him in the clubhouse. Torre as much said the same thing to CNN’s Larry King last Friday night on his show.
Even Johnny Damon jumped into the fray, defending A-Rod. “All I know is, A-Rod is such a great teammate,” Damon told reporters last night at the 29th Annual Thurman Munson Awards in Manhattan.
“A-Rod is just a great guy who works harder than anybody,” Damon added. “Alex is one of the greatest players ever, and I would put my odds on him to win another MVP this year.”
Torre was in New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday doing book signings at various locations in the city. It has to please him a lot to know he has caused quite a stir in the Yankees’ backyard. Book sales have been brisk, aided mightily by the huge media splash Torre has gotten over the past week or so. Fans showing up to see Torre or get their books signed were generally supportive of him and what he did in New York during his 12-year run. However, if you jump around the media websites or blogs and read the comments not everyone is happy with Mr. Torre and his opinions.
Torre told Letterman he was proud of what he accomplished in his 12 years as manager of the New York Yankees and has no regrets about what is in the book.
“The New York Yankees put me on the map professionally,” Torre said. “You know, I had a career playing, I had a career managing and it wasn’t until I came here that people knew who I was and then the success that I had. There’s no way that I feel that I wanted to write this book in any way to get back at somebody.”
OK, Joe, whatever you say. Thanks for the memories. Well, some of them anyway.