"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 1/26/09

Everyday I write the book (and I’m NOT Joe Torre) … here’s the news:

  • Joe Torre has been a busy man, apparently.  As you’ve read this past weekend, he’s got a tell-all book about his 12 seasons with the Yanks coming out next week.
  • ESPN reports that though Torre supposedly has some unkind things to say about Brian Cashman, Cashman seems to be alright:

When reached by ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney on Sunday, Cashman said that he had spoken to Torre by phone. He said that the manager told him to wait for the book to come out, that they are friends and will always be friends.

“Joe was a great manager for us,” Cashman said. “I’m glad he called me. I’m very comfortable with my relationship with him.”

  • Michael Schmidt of the Times covers the release of the book, and it seems that A-Rod is going to have the spotlight shone on him again come Spring Training:

The book quotes Mike Borzello, a former Yankees bullpen catcher who is described as a “close friend” of Rodriguez’s, and says that Borzello was constantly having to boost Rodriguez’s ego because he felt that he was competing with Derek Jeter for attention.

“It doesn’t help,” Borzello said, referring to Rodriguez’s awkward relationship with Jeter. “You would rather that the stars are in the same place, pulling together, but I don’t think it affected the other players. It just affected the feel in the clubhouse.”

Borzello added that he used to tell Rodriguez all the time that Rodriguez was coming to the stadium and trying to get everyone to look at him, but that they were already looking at him: “You’re Alex Rodriguez. I don’t understand that.”

  • Torre is going to be in the metro area touting the book.
  • The Times has an article on Tim Raines, who will be the new manager of the Newark Bears, and on the state of the team and league it plays in:

Raines …  adds a splash of celebrity to the Bears, but he has been given a mandate to assemble a winning team.

If the Bears win, Wankmiller contends, they will draw more fans. By his reckoning, the refurbished corporate suites, virtually empty last year, will become more popular for entertaining, and the Bears could sell more advertising.

But there is a long way to go. According to the league, the Bears drew only 181,240 fans last season, seventh in the league. Their average crowd of 2,746 was about half the size of the average at Somerset Patriots games in Bridgewater. (The Patriots, the league champs last season, are managed by another ex-Yankee, Sparky Lyle.)

“We think baseball can work here,” said Joe Klein, a former big-league general manager and the executive director of the Atlantic League, whose offices are in Camden. “We’re confident people will come to games. Maybe people at first will come to games because of Tim Raines, but that’s O.K.”

  • Also in the Times, Harvey Araton laments the lengthy timetable for the demolition of the old Stadium, which puts the neighborhood’s needs on the back burner:

“That’s going take at least two years because the city’s priority is the Yankees, not the neighborhood,” said Joyce Hogi, a member of the Community Board 4 parks committee.

She and her colleagues fought a long, losing battle of preservation best evidenced by two stadiums at the expense of cherished parkland, to be replaced here and there and on terms mostly beneficial to a private enterprise already worth in excess of $1 billion. All while the old and the new stand side by side, towering over what is commonly called the nation’s poorest Congressional district like some supersize baseball mall.

  • MLB.com reports on the slimmed-down Robinson Cano, who feels like he’s gonna have a better ’09:

“It’s motivation for me this year,” Cano said. “Now I know I have to start from the beginning this year, in April, not in June. I have to start early now.”

Cano appeared Friday in New Rochelle, N.Y., at a benefit for Hillside Food Outreach, supporting an annual event hosted by former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams. Noticeably trimmer, Cano said that he shed five pounds from the end of the regular season and currently weighs in at 208.

He believes that the Yankees helped by permitting him to play winter ball, serving as a designated hitter for Las Estrellas de Oriente. Cano also hopes that competing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic will help him get into the swing of game action sooner.

  • MLB.com also catches up with Bernie Williams, who is trying to see if he can play both his guitar and baseball (not simultaneously, natch):

“As a performing artist, you have to do dates and promotions and try to promote your music albums,” Williams said. “That is not really going to be very conducive to being 100 percent out there playing baseball as well.

“There’s got to be a compromise at some point, but we haven’t really gotten to that point yet. I anticipate that if I want to do it the same way I do baseball, it’s going to be very difficult to do it at the same time.” …

“After I make the team hopefully and play, I think it will be a good indication of how I feel about playing,” Williams said. “The physical skills have to be there, the mentality has to be there, the motivation and competition. I think it will put me in a good position for my decision making.”

  • Newsday has a story on the Bombers making a concerted effort to keep their players and fans safe and sanitary in the new stadium.
  • Brian Doyle turns 54 today. Doyle was the unlikely hero of the ’78 World Series, going 7-16 with 4 runs scored, as the Yanks beat the Dodgers in 6 games.  Doyle’s career line …. .161/.201/.191 in 199 ABs over four seasons.
  • Not a Yankee birthday … but Happy 74th to Bob Uecker!
  • On this date in 1962, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle sign contracts with Columbia Pictures to appear in Safe at Home!, a movie that is to be shot during spring training. The movie will star Maris and Mantle as themselves and feature cameos by Whitey Ford and Ralph Houk.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Dimelo   ~  Jan 26, 2009 9:42 am

How dare Borzello slight the Yankees like that after all they've done for him - making him a bullpen catcher and personal caddy for A-Rod - he's so ungrateful and he was a loser before the Yankees picked him up off the scrap heap. Let it go already, Borzello, LET IT GO!!!!

2 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 9:48 am

In regards to response to this "news" thus far - and beside bashing Torre before reading the book, based largely on a NY Post article with no quotes) - what blows my mind is the retconning that results in Torre, instead of being one of the voices of reason in the wacky world of the Georgian Yankees, becoming the dysfunctional epicenter. How quickly we forget the much-needed steady hand Torre provided during most of those years.

And I'm not saying it's directly comparable but Bill Bellichick didn't do so well as a HC before going to the Pats ... Are prepared to say he owes his success to the Patriots' organization?

3 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 9:50 am

Thaks for the Elvis Costello reference, Diane! Much better than the House of Pain!


4 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 10:19 am

[2] Yes, Torre did a great job with the team for a good stretch, but his later years were not so good, and as many have chronicled here, were costly to the team. Just like players who decline are faced with pay cuts and 1-year deals (ahem Andy Pettitte), managers should be expected to face that reality as well. When a player displays an ego that considers incentives on top of la ucrative contract as an insult, everyone gets up in arms, but when Joe does it, his apologists come out in full force.

Loyalty is a two way street...if Torre's book betrays confidences and throws stones, he can’t play the loyalty card. The Yankees have moved on from Torre; he should consider doing the same.

5 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 26, 2009 10:25 am

[4] "The Yankees have moved on from Torre; he should consider doing the same."

But william - there are books to be sold!

/cynicism off

In all seriousness, I am far, far less interested in the '96-'07 seasons than I am in the '09 season. The NY sports press is pretty empty on big stories right now, so I am sure they will have all sorts of fun with this stuff. To which I say, emphatically, YAWN.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 10:34 am

[5] Of course, but that's why I find it comical that some are presenting this as Torre setting the record straight, when in fact it is an attempt to sell books (and extend one's celebrity in doing so). That's why the focus on Arod isn't so surprising. If you have to sell a book...just say something about Arod. It's also kind of funny how so many people claim Arod is a publicity hound, but then use his name to attract attention.

Also, the Schmidt article talks about Torre's concern for how Arod changed the clubhouse in 2004, but I wonder if that concern included how Arod almost single handedly pushed the Yankees past the Twins and was a strong MVP candidate in the LCS before the collapse. Instead of worrying about Arod's impact on the clubhouse, I'd like to think Torre would reflect back on things like his use of Gordon/Rivera, not bunting on Schilling, not trying to steal bases when Varitek was trying to "catch" Wakefield, etc.

7 Raf   ~  Jan 26, 2009 10:54 am

I’d like to think Torre would reflect back on things like his use of Gordon/Rivera

Well, in game 4 of the 04 ALCS, he went to Rivera in the 8th inning, then deployed Gordon and Quantrill. In game 5, he went to Gordon, then called Rivera when Gordon wasn't getting the job done. I don't see anything wrong with that.

not bunting on Schilling

Other than Jeter & Cairo, there weren't much in the way of bunters in the Yankees lineup that night. Not only that, I would think a "heads up" player like Jeter would try to lay one down to see what's what. Add to that the fact that the previous time around, Schilling was lit up, so I could understand why the Yanks would want to try and do it again.

not trying to steal bases when Varitek was trying to “catch” Wakefield

Of course they weren't trying to steal, Posada and Matsui, two of the Yanks' slower runners were on base, 3 if you want to count Sheffield. And there were two outs when Varitek was having his problems.

8 Dimelo   ~  Jan 26, 2009 11:15 am

[7] How dare you practice pragmatism here? I don't think that's allowed.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 11:20 am


A) In game 3, Gordon threw 17 pitches. The score was 19-8. In game 5, he could have gone to Rivera in the 8th, or at least after Gordon gave up the HR to Ortiz.

B) By the 4th inning, it should have been apparent that Schilling wasn't the same guy who was lit up earlier in the series. Maybe they didn't see the bloody sock, but I'd like to think the manager would take the lead and order a bunt or two just to see if he could field the position and stay in the game after trying.

C) In the 12th inning, Cairo, an excellent base stealer, was on 2nd with 1 out. Had he stolen 3rd, he may have scored on Jeter's flyout that followed. In the 13th inning, Sheffield reached on a passed ball...he could have stolen a base. Matsui then reached on a FC...even he could have stolen a base...especially when you consider that Varitek was boxing every other pitch. With all the passed balls in that inning (I count at least three), one extra base would have made a huge difference.

10 SteveAmerica   ~  Jan 26, 2009 11:26 am

First of all, I'm sorry to whine, but this WordPress platform is so annoying, it tells me my password in invalid 2x a week.

On to Torre, I guess that it's fun to A-Rod Bash, because ya know, he's famous but he's insecure and neurotic, so hey, let's make fun of that, because god knows everyone who sits in judgement of his humanity is so fucking beyond reproach that they have the unfettered right to mock the guy for being flawed.

A-Rod doesn't shoot himself or others in nightclubs, he doesn't scream at fans, he doesn't go around driving drunk. He's insecure and a little goofy, what an asshole, let's trade him now!!!

It seems to me that A-Rod's biggest flaw is that he wants his fame and likability to be conmensurate with his ability as a baseball player. Unfortunately that will probably never happen. But I'm not going to look at him as some sort of clown because of it.

11 Raf   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:11 pm


A: Also in game 5, Gordon got Manny to induce into an inning ending DP. The night before he threw 2 scoreless innings. I am not surprised that Torre allowed Gordon to stay in as long as he did.

B: Even if the manager and players did see the bloody sock, it doesn't change that there were two players in the lineup that bunted with regularity. The rest were sluggers. Why Rodriguez, Sheffield, Williams, Matsui, etc, bunt when they can change the game on one swing?

C: Yes Cairo was on 2b with one out. Jeter was at bat, with Rodriguez on deck, and Sheffield in the hole. Why risk getting Cairo thrown out @ 3b, when you have the hitters? A single brings Cairo home.

As for the following inning, Sheffield's not going to run when Matsui, Williams, and Posada are up at bat. Even more so, considering he isn't a base stealer. Especially when you consider the count was 3-1 on Matsui. When Matsui reached, Williams only gave him 3 chances to steal, flying out on the 3rd pitch in the sequence. Once Matsui reached 2b, it was the same thing the inning prior; a base hit brings him in, with Posada at bat, with Sierra & Clark coming to bat. I don't think he's going to risk getting thrown out @ 3b.

If anything, blame Ruben Sierra for being overagressive in his at bat.

12 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:14 pm

[4] I'm not really even saying Torre did a good job - I mean, obviously he did, they won a lot - just that he was clearly one of the saner high profile people in the organization for a while there, and now there's an entire contingent positioning him as a fly in the ointment or something. I mean universally, in-game decisions aside, Torre was recognized as just the opposite, as a calm center in the eye of the Yankees storm.

13 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:17 pm

[6] Again, can we just wait and see? We don't know that the "focus is on A Rod". The focus of the Post piece was, but it's ridiculous to draw these conclusions about the book. I mean, A Rod was here for less than half of Torre's tenure.

14 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:20 pm

fwiw there's an excerpt of this book on SI.com ... I shan't post the link for obvious reasons, but I'm sure y'all will find it!

15 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:26 pm


A: Gordon pitching two innings the day before is an argument for why you wouldn't extend him the following day. Also, the Ortiz HR might should have been a red flag. If not that, the walk to Millar probably was a bad sign. Still, however, Torre let Gordon face the lefty Nixon, who singled. Only with 1st and 3rd and no out was Rivera summoned. Had he been brought on one batter sooner it could have made a huge difference.

B: Once the Red Sox went up 4-0, baserunners were almost as important as solo HRs. Schilling's inability to get off the mound could have been a major weakness, but Torre never even tried to exploit it. What it have made a difference? I don't know, but I think it was definitelty worth a try.

C: Why take the risk? Well, for starters, Varitek was fighting every pitch...he failed to cleanly catch almost every other pitch. With Cairo's speed, wakefield's slow knuckler and Varitek's lack of comfort handling the pitch, the risk sure seems pretty low. Isn't it the job of a manager to calculate risk and roll the dice when the risk is low and the reward is so high?

Finally, Sheffield wasn't a base stealer? While he didn't run much (or with success in 2004), he was 18/22 and 10/12 in 2003 and 2005. In other words, he definitely had the instinct and speed to steal under normal conditions, not to mention the perfect storm described above. This wasn't a normal situation...you had a catcher struggling mightily behind the plate. If you aren't going to take a chance then (esp. up 3 games to 1 in the series), then when would you?

16 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:29 pm

[12] But that does that grant him a lifetime contract on his terms? What people are reacting to is Torre's sense of entitlement, not his calming presence.

[13] The publisher has choosen to make Arod a focus though (he is mentioned in the book's description). Also, do you really think the publisher didn't leak the Arod parts in the hope of generating publicity?

17 bp1   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:30 pm

Report on ESPN that Andy has signed a deal - $6mil base contract with lots of incentives.

18 Raf   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:56 pm


A: Millar was down 0-2 before working out a walk, and Gordon got ahead of Nixon as well. The stuff was there, he was not able to finish them off, for whatever reason. Having said that, Nixon was up in the count 3-1 when he singled.

B: The Yanks led off the 4th with back to back hits, and didn't capitalize. In the 5th, Clark & Sierra aren't going to bunt. In the 6th, Jeter's not going to bunt when he has the count in his favor 3-0, and Rodriguez & Sheffield aren't going to bunt. Williams homered in the 7th. Just as big a call in that game is the Rodriguez interference call, which would've put the Yanks at 1st & 2nd one out, had it not been called.

C: It's a high risk play considering the situation. Given the caliber of hitters that they have, it's not surprising or unexpected that they would hit a single, or something better.

As for Sheffield, given the points you cited, then I have even more confidence in his decision not to run, if he had the instinct and speed to do so.

19 Dimelo   ~  Jan 26, 2009 12:58 pm

[16] What sense of entitlement? What are you talking about? So far I haven't seen anything that Torre has said that's so profound, let alone controversial. He asked ARod to be one of the guys - try not to use clubhouse staff to get you your coffee. And, this is something that would make anyone pissed, Steinbrenner knew about Torre having cancer even before Torre was notified. I'd be pissed off too.

20 ms october   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:05 pm

[17] thanks - here's the link, http://tinyurl.com/amcuug

i like the idea of andy in the rotation.
i think it gives the staff some depth and guards against having to watch snacks p., part 3.

21 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:07 pm

[18] I don't think we are going to convince each other, but what I do know is those decisions factored more into the 2004 season than Arod's clubhouse presence.

22 Raf   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:13 pm


but what I do know is those decisions factored more into the 2004 season than Arod’s clubhouse presence.

And on that, we can agree.

23 Raf   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:14 pm

To that point, I'd say there were times that Torre made the wrong move that worked out, and there were times he made the right move that backfired. Anything can happen in a short series.

24 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:14 pm

[21] And, that was my original point in [6].

25 JL25and3   ~  Jan 26, 2009 1:59 pm

I thought Torre was a very good manager for a long time.

I would have rehired him, but it was a perfectly reasonable decision not to. I just didn't like the way the Yankees handled it - either he was the right guy for the job or he wasn't, and if he wasn't, they should just have said so.

I cared about that a year ago.

26 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:05 pm

[17] I find it odd that while Joe Torre refused a lower salary laden with incentives offered because of a lack of success, Andy Pettitte not only took a substantial salary cut, he took a deal laden with incentives after a bad year! I don't believe those calls to Torre this season will have the same meaning, do you? If he pitches like he did during the last half of '08, he won't have a starting job out of Spring Training.

27 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:28 pm

Here's an excerpt from a NYT article about David Wells book...something to keep in mind should Torre back away from some of the contents.

Wells did not talk about the book, and his co-author, Chris Kreski, did not respond to an interview request. But Wells has suggested that he was surprised by parts of the book, and may have conveyed that to Torre and Cashman.

''We talked to him about a lot of things today,'' Torre said. ''I just sensed he was bothered by it. Not by what we said, but by how it came out. How much of it is actually what he said and how much isn't exactly what he said, I don't know. But there's no question: it has his name on it, and he has to be accountable for it.''

28 rbj   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:31 pm

Wow, Pres. Obama has amazing powers. Dead horses have risen up.

Torre was a great manager for the Yankees. Post season every year. Still, managers are hired to be fired. There was a certain "staleness" to the team so a new manager probably was in order, it's just that the Steinbrenners did it in a low class way.

As for A-Rod, I only care about what he does on the field. And with all due respect to Henry Aaron, I would like to see the career HR record back in pinstripes.

29 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:33 pm

[26] How is that germaine in any way? Is there some evidence that Torre is trying to NOT be accountable for the book with his name on it, and thus the NYT article outs him as a hypocrite on top of everything else?

30 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:37 pm

[28] Note the quotes in my statement: something to keep in mind "should Torre back away from some of the contents." Verducci has already laid the groundwork with the whole third-party book idea, so if Torre goes that route too, there would definitely be a certain level of hypocrisy.

31 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 26, 2009 2:49 pm

Gee, bp1 and I noticed that
Andy's about to sign
for lower than what's been argued about in the press (with incentives that might bring it right back up, of course) and we're arguing the merits of an albeit heralded manager who isn't here anymore? Because of a book that hasn't even come out yet?? Wowzers. I can't imagine what will happen when Vernon Wells gets traded to us. Will we be arguing over Clemens? >;)

32 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 3:08 pm

[29] Right but - and I don't mean to be combative - I'm just saying ... Well let me put it this way: We could all spend a long, long time saying that if so-and-so did such-and-such, that would make them a hypocrite. I realize you're not saying he is doing it, but in the absence of any evidence that he has or will, I don't think it's really relevant. It just seems there's a little bias at work there, is all, which I don't understand, given Torre's track record. He's done nothing to earn that kind of suspicion.

33 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 3:10 pm

[29] Mike Francesa, of all people, made the most damning observation with regards to the hypocrisy of Joe Torre in a question to Verducci earlier today. He noted that at the beginning of Torre's first year, he made it clear to the players he was "Old School" and that what happened in the clubhouse stayed in the clubhouse. This book is obviously in blatant disagreement with this original managerial philosophy. I would even argue it might have even been his plan since day one so his book could be the first and the most successful exposure of those teams and years. If there is anything in those 500 pages verifying what happened in the clubhouse, and Joe Torre made that announcement to his players on day one, he is indeed a hypocrite and will be profiting from divulging or verifying what should stay in the clubhouse. Hmmm...

Perhaps "Old School" gets thrown out of the window when you're trying to maintain an estate at Kapalua in this economy in 2009. I am smart enough to know that in this day of modern medicine and stem cell research, Torre can easily survive long enough to blow his $100M there! Maybe A-Rod and Madonna will buy the whole island and evict Torre for the "next chapter"!


34 JL25and3   ~  Jan 26, 2009 3:17 pm

[27] I'm still mad at David Aardsma for bumping Henry Aaron from the #1 spot alphabetically. He should have been forced to change his name to Ardsma before they let him play.

35 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm

Look I don't know what the deal is with Torre, and I haven't read the book so I can't say one way or the other about it. On the face of it it does seem unnecessary. But I find comical the idea that Torre asked for clubhouse stuff to stay in the clubhouse in order to be the first to write a book about it a decade later. I mean, that's nuts.

36 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 3:25 pm

[34] Not if you're jilted out of your job the ways Verducci and/or Torre may feel they were... especially with these types of monies at stake. We are talking about folks who weren't always with the Yankees after all.

37 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 4:44 pm

[35] So Torre also knew 12 years ago he'd be jilted out of a job? Right: Tell everyone that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, because you know in 12 years it will all come to a bitter, bitter end and you want to keep all the juicy tidbits out of the press so you can dramatically reveal them yourself in a tell-all book. Joe Torre is an evil genius!

38 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 4:50 pm

If you don't think a bitter end wasn 't within the realm of possibility for Joe Torre at the time he accepted his position with the Yankees, then you simply haven't been paying attention to the George Steinbrenner era... at all.

39 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 4:55 pm

Sorry, I botched those contractions, but you get the idea...


40 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 5:15 pm

[37] should read, "If you think a bitter end wasn't within the realm of possibility for Joe Torre at the time he accepted his position with the Yankees, then you simply haven't been paying attention to the George Steinbrenner era... at all."

41 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 5:44 pm

[40] Ha, don't you think there's a bit of difference between accepting a bitter end as being in the realm of possibility and accepting that Joe Torre manipulated the clubhouse in order to capitalize with a BOOK when the end came? I'm operating from a place where there is a substantial difference there. If you're not, then it's just what it is, aint it!

42 PJ   ~  Jan 26, 2009 5:56 pm

I don't know about the planning of such a thing so far in advance Hawk, even for Torre. However Torre's track record going in certainly contained other bitter ends at other places not nearly as interesting from a book's perspective. What I do know is that it's entirely within the realm of possibility both Torre and Verducci are disgruntled former Yankees employees and what better way to get back at them than a "tell-all" book?

43 The Hawk   ~  Jan 26, 2009 9:19 pm

Most informative thing on the book that' I've read so far is in the NYT. Interesting stuff. I want to read this book.

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