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News of the Day – 1/27/09

Posted By Diane Firstman On January 27, 2009 @ 9:24 am In Diane Firstman,News of the Day | Comments Disabled

To paraphrase a good song, “Ghost writers . . . in . . . the . . . skyyyyy!”

To quote another good song …

May I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please?
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here.

Here’s the news, linked/reported entirely by me, in the first person:

  • It looks like the Yanks won’t have to resort to Jason Johnson or Freddy Garcia as a possible fifth starter … Pettitte is a Yankee again [1]:

Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees agreed Monday to a $5.5 million, one-year contract that brings the left-hander back to New York.

Pettitte can make an additional $6.5 million on performance bonuses and bonuses based on time on the active roster.

“There was never another team brought up,” Pettitte said during a conference call. “I wanted to come back to the Yankees.”

[My take: If Andy has recovered from his physical ailments of late '08, the Yanks rotation could be the best in the AL East.  Welcome back Andy ... you put us through a lot these past few weeks, but we'll see you soon!]

  • Here is MLB.com’s [2] coverage of the Pettitte agreement.
  • PeteAbe of LoHud [3] steps us to the plate with his assessment of the Torre/Verducci (or is it Verducci/Torre?)  book:

Now we have Torre, the man who restored the luster to a faded powerhouse, prostituting himself for the sake of a book and another few million.

… Torre clearly traded some secrets for money. Nobody wanted to read another warm tale about his brother in surgery or Don Zimmer cracking jokes, so Joe and Tom Verducci threw a few players and team executives into the fire. Verducci is an elegant writer and a terrific reporter. The book will be compelling and 100 percent true.

But that’s not really the point. We wanted Bernie Williams Day at the old Stadium. You’d like to see that old warhorse Clemens in Tampa teaching Phil Hughes how to bust somebody inside. And many Yankee fans would weep at the sight of Torre getting his number retired, fat tears running down his face again as Mo, Jorgie, Tino, Paulie and the Captain gather around. …

It just never ends well. Maybe it’s the money that saps them of their dignity. For others it’s the attention or the lifestyle. But our heroes so rarely walk away at the right time. They kick and scream and claw.

[My take: Verducci states its a third person account not just of Joe Torre but of the entire organization during the Torre years.  If so, why have Torre on the cover and give him top billing (or any billing for that matter).  If much of the meat of the book comes from Torre’s recollections, then how it can it NOT be a Torre “expose”?  Why title a book something as non-descript and generic as “The Yankee Years” unless it dealt specifically with one particular person’s “Years”.   If Torre is indeed the “mass” around which the Yankee universe “spun” for a 12-year period, why not call it “The Torre Years in Yankeeland” or something more descriptive and … dare I say it … truthful.

Further clouding those questions is the fact that it is Torre, not Verducci, doing the book tour (at least per the publisher’s website).

Also, why would a seemingly classy guy like Torre consent to writing (or merely contributing to?) this book while he is still managing in the Majors?  I know the Yanks won’t be facing the Dodgers this year (unless its 1978 World Series deja vu), but why talk about active players, coaches, management, etc. of a former employer while you still interact with them to some extent?  This isn’t like an autobiographical  “come with me as I recount the great season we had last year” book.  Nor is it a sportswriter penning a “a season of  team X’s complete and utter failure” book.

Something just doesn’t seem right about the “need” for this book at this particular time.  Maybe it IS all about the Benjamins.]

  • Richard Sandomir of the Times [4] does an excellent job examining the morass of the “Verducci/Torre” book paradox, as follows:

Torre is cast as the leading character in Tom Verducci’s narrative — not as “I or me,” but in the third person as “Torre.” This isn’t Norman Mailer playing with alter egos like “Aquarius,” but a device that lets Torre recede now and then …

If the structure is not confusing (Torre’s quotations are all over the place), readers may occasionally wonder: what did Torre say that does not appear in quotation marks? When, if ever, did Torre (or Verducci) mute the manager’s strongest views to let other characters voice them? When Verducci asserts that some Yankees called Alex Rodriguez “A-Fraud” (which you don’t doubt because of Verducci’s great reputation), is Torre’s concurrence implicit in more tempered assessments?

  • In discussing the book, Tyler Kepner [5] of the Times writes of the impact of A-Rod’s arrival, by quoting a fellow Times employee’s book review (separate bullet on that review later in this post):

“Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, 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,” the authors write.

So there you have it: Joe Torre stating, on the record, that Rodriguez’s selfishness changed the character of the team.

[My take: No …. this doesn’t definitively mean Torre is on the record as stating that A-Rod changed the character of the team, because its written in this “self-referential” third person tone.    The reader knows that both Verducci and Torre are responsible for this book, but who is the “owner” of any particular thought or observation?  This third person perspective is extremely lame and tiresome.  It gives Torre an “out”, as if he isn’t directly stating certain things …. does anyone remember Joe Torre EVER speaking of himself in the third person?  Why start now?]

  • Though the book isn’t supposed to be released for another week, the Times [6] already has a review of it, including this:

There are two curious things about the book. One is that the volume is not a memoir but a third-person account, lacking anything resembling a personal voice and fleshed out with interviews with players like David Cone and Mike Mussina. The second is that it devotes less attention to the team’s remarkable run at the end of the millennium than to its subsequent fall from grace — a fall that began with the seventh game of the 2001 World Series, which the team lost when Mariano Rivera gave up a bloop single to Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and which marked what the former New York Times reporter Buster Olney would later call “the last night of the Yankee dynasty.”

“The Yankee Years” does a nimble, if at times cursory, job of reanimating the long highlight reel of the Torre era …

  • Newsday’s [7] Arthur Staple thinks Torre is justified in taking a swing at the Yanks:

The Yankees played hardball with Joe Torre a little over a year ago. They dared their dignified, Hall-of-Fame skipper to walk by offering him a lowball contract, and he did walk.

That’s business, and it’s the way the Yankees chose to conduct theirs.

Torre has a book coming out in eight days — well, it’s former Newsday scribe and current Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci’s book, he says, even though it’s Torre’s name first on the cover — that spills a few secrets from 12 seasons as the Yankees manager.

That’s business, too. And if the Yankees, from the Steinbrenners on down to Alex Rodriguez, want to cry about it, maybe they can write their own books.

  • The Times’ [8] Joshua Robinson has some distilled tidbits from the book, including this on Carl Pavano:

In no uncertain terms, the signing of Carl Pavano before the 2005 season is presented as a symbol of the Yankees’ impending decline. According to the book, Pavano had once been at the top of Torre’s wish list. But Torre still suspected Pavano might be a problem after a chance meeting at a restaurant in West Palm Beach, Fla. At a wedding rehearsal dinner, the book says, Torre saw Pavano as awkward and ill at ease and began to worry that he might underperform in the New York crucible.

Torre’s fears materialized. Injury followed injury — including a car accident in 2006 — and Pavano seemed all too happy to take his time rehabilitating. Torre was especially irked, the book says, about Pavano’s apparent disregard for his responsibility to his teammates. And, it seems that by spring training in 2006, Torre had caught wind of the clubhouse’s dislike for Pavano. Instead of protecting him, Torre had Pavano join the squad for their final spring training trip and effectively threw him to the wolves.

  • SI.com [9] (Verducci’s employer) features an excerpt from the book.
  • In much more mundane news, Upper Deck [10] is presenting a dedicated card collector with a trip to the Stadium and a meet-up with Derek Jeter.  All this collector did was track down every one of the special 6,661 cards Upper Deck produced in honor of that same number of games being played at the old Stadium.
  • MLB.com [11] reports that the Braves have expressed a preference for Nick Swisher over Xavier Nady in trade talks with the Bombers.
  • Newly-acquired Angel Berroa turns 31 today.  Is this the same guy who won the 2003 AL ROY?
  • On this date in 2003, former Yankee Bob Kammeyer (pitched in 7 games in ’78 and 1 game in ’79) died of a pulmonary embolism, at the age of 52.  “Kammy” might have been best known for an incident where he allegedly took $100 from manager Billy Martin to intentionally hit Cleveland batter Cliff Johnson with a pitch.  The incident occurred in an inning where Kammeyer gave up 8 runs in the inning without retiring a batter, and was promptly demoted to the minors, never to return to the majors.
  • On this date in 1956, the New York Giants football team switches its home games to Yankee Stadium, leading to speculation that the baseball team will soon vacate the Polo Grounds as well.

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URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2009/01/27/news-of-the-day-12709/

URLs in this post:

[1] Pettitte is a Yankee again: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3861386

[2] MLB.com’s: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090126&content_id=3772722&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

[3] LoHud: http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2009/01/26/nothing-ever-ends-well/

[4] Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/sports/baseball/27sandomir.html?ref=sports

[5] Tyler Kepner: http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/when-the-subject-is-a-rod-and-the-author-is-torre-there-are-no-easy-answers/

[6] Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/sports/baseball/26review.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss

[7] Newsday’s: http://www.newsday.com/sports/columnists/ny-spstaple0127,0,7618479.column

[8] Times’: http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/from-rodriguez-to-pavano-and-plenty-in-between/

[9] SI.com: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/01/26/torre.verducci/

[10] Upper Deck: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/upperdeck/36695/

[11] MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090126&content_id=3773138&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl&partnerId=rss_atl

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