"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 1/31/09

Let’s get this out of the way …

[poll id="4"]

And let’s have a little competition … over at ESPN:

“Super Pick’em” challenges you to answer a series of questions directly related to the Big Game. The questions range from which team will come out on top to how many touchdowns will the home team quarterback throw. The more you get right, the closer you are to the grand prize. It’s FREE to play.

Get in the action now:
http://games.espn.go.com/super/group?groupID=3380

Group: Bronx Banterers
Password: arod

OK … back to the really important stuff … ladies and gentlemen … “Author” Joe Torre!


  • Our fearless leader/book reader Alex Belth has a Q&A with Torre book “co-author” Tom Verducci over at SI.com.  It’s (of course) a must-read.  Well done sir!

  • Tyler Kepner of the Times recaps Torre’s appearance:

… (But) Torre, in his first televised interview about the book, said he was proud of it and did not think he violated the sanctity of the clubhouse.

“I did not burn any bridges,” he said. “When I talk about what went on in the clubhouse, I don’t think there was any sensitive material that was in there that I felt shouldn’t have been in there.”

Torre, who will be in New York to promote the book on Tuesday, when it is officially released, said he had no regrets. He predicted the book would become a “piece of history” for chronicling an era, not for its references to Alex Rodriguez and others.

[My take: Wow ... talk about an odd sense of confidentiality and double-standards.    So who is ESPN going to get to portray him in their inevitable movie?]

  • PeteAbe tries to avoid talking about Torre’s appearance on King’s show … but:

According to the info button on my cable, Larry King’s guest on CNN tonight is “Author Joe Torre.”

Author? The late, great John Updike was an author. Torre is a guy who told a few stories to somebody else and cashed a check.

  • PeteAbe also hits it out of the park with his Torre-tinged take on Jeter swiping the DiMaggio quote sign from the old Stadium:

If you’re looking for this, Derek Jeter took it home.

A-Rod got the “You’re a huge fraud and we all hate you” sign that Joe Torre hung over his locker.

[My take: ROFL ... well done Pete ... well done!  I hear Abreu tried to take a large framed photo of Reggie out of the Stadium, but he sensed he was going to scrape into a corridor wall ... and dropped the frame. :-)]

  • And finally in the PeteAbe portion of this update, he points out that the Yanks have not reached their free agent signing quota (correcting an earlier article on MLB.com).
  • Reliever Brian Bruney is now signed for 2009 … $1.25 million.
  • Last week I posted an item about a very rare signed team photo of the 1927 Yankees that was up for auction.  Well …. it finally sold … for $94 Gs!
  • BP.com has released their first 2009 iteration of PECOTA “Weighted Means” projections for your perusal.  Note that many of the players have not had their associated team updated (i.e. Teixeira isn’t listed with the Yanks, yet …)
  • Another projection system, Tom Tango’s “MARCEL”, is usually quite good.  However, the first iteration for 2009 has a small updating issue …. there is a projection for (the late) Cory Lidle.
  • Wanna see the Shea Stadium scoreboard get demolished?
  • Rafael Santana, another one of the guys to play for both NY teams, turns 51 today.  The Mets dealt him along with Victor Garcia (minors)  for Darren Reed, Phil Lombardi, and Steve Frey before the 1988 season.
  • Happy 40th Birthday to my Scrabble buddy and a damn fine fantasy sports writer, Scott Pianowski.  Scott shares his birthday with Ernie Banks (78), Nolan Ryan (62) and the late Jackie Robinson.  Not a bad way to start a fantasy team!

Til Monday ….. enjoy the weekend … go Steelers!

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21 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 31, 2009 10:10 am

Hey, thanks for the kudos on the interview, guys. My hands were somewhat tied. I actually asked Verducci more than two times the questions that appeared but because of his contract or deal with his publisher he couldn't or wouldn't go into too much detail about stuff in the book which is dropping on Tuesday.

I hope we can do a follow up interview next week. I asked him about Jeter moving off SS, why that wasn't addressed, and some other things. Hey, if you've got any questions you'd like to me ask, leave 'em here and I'll try to get them in.

2 RIYank   ~  Jan 31, 2009 10:18 am

They have the wrong picture at the top of the column, I notice. It's not Verducci's column!

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 31, 2009 10:33 am

Until the NFL gets smart, and starts having Public Executions at half-time, I have absolutely no interest at all.

"You know the good part about all those executions in Texas? Fewer Texans." GC.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 31, 2009 10:49 am

I'm predicting like 38-13 Steelers, with the game not even being that close. I think the string of good Super Bowls ends at 1.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 31, 2009 10:57 am

I joined the pick em group

6 Just Fair   ~  Jan 31, 2009 11:22 am

Here we go Steelers. HERE WE GO! CLAP! CLAP! Man. I can't wait.

7 terpchic   ~  Jan 31, 2009 11:26 am

I have been lurking here forever, but I decided to join the pick 'em game.

Go Cards!

8 rbj   ~  Jan 31, 2009 12:27 pm

Close game, with the Steelers edging out.

Here's a question Alex:
How much was Torre and/or management aware of steroid use in general and amongst the Yankees in particular.

Thanks for the interview.

9 ny2ca2dc   ~  Jan 31, 2009 1:04 pm

Alex I'd really like to see this whole narrative questioned. A few bounces and Rivera saves and this whole edifice of "Baseball changing around the Yankees" and "the rise of the Red Sox" collapses onto itself. Given that instability might some modesty have been appropriate? (of course, that doesn't sell books...)

I'd also like to see Verducci asked how it's possible that Torre is so unable to second guess his own managerial decisions. It's a bit like Bush saying his one mistake was the "mission accomplished" banner, not a fundamental inability to make analytic decisions and engage in any kind of introspection. Maybe just ask Tom his opinion of the ways in which Torre is imperfect. See if he can come up with anything at all other than those irritating fluffy answers that actually just offer up a positive.

10 ms october   ~  Jan 31, 2009 2:29 pm

[7] welcome.

I am in the camp that if the Cards score early it will be a close game, otheriwse if the Steelers jump out early, big Steelers win.

Good interview Alex. I know it is frustrating to have so many of your questions shelved.

A couple q's:
* Did Verducci expect the backlash against he and Torre in particular that has taken place? Given this, what is worth it?
(I find it notable that someone who seemed as positive as PeteAbe has been about Torre has been so critical ,as have some of the other NY area writers)
* From the excerpts I have read Torre does not seem fond of many of the players brought in about 2001 forward. It seems Torre took the Bill Parcells approach that if he is tasked with cooking the meal he should be allowed to shop for the groceries with regards to the players brought in during this time. Did Torre believe he should have gotten more say in personnel? What would he have done different to better integrate the newcomers to the "Yankee way?"

11 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 31, 2009 2:56 pm

[9] I must ask. Im terms of Torre being 'unable to second guess his own managerial decisions' and ' of the ways in which Torre is imperfect'... does this just singley apply to Torre, or some other managers? All other managers? Do you hear interviews with LaRussa where he does lots of 'second guessing of his decisions'?

How about GMs? Should we have someone interview Cashman and ask him to list all his mistakes? Theo maybe?

This to me is just vandictive stuff. Seeing if we can get Torre to fall on his own sword. I don't expect Torre or Cashman to make the right decision 100% of the time. Not 80% of the time. Is 70% of the time good? If so, do we need to list the other 30%?

And are you sure that you, or William, or anyone else here, with no experience or knowledge of what's really going on on the field... are you sure that the 'Torre mistakes' you see are truly mistakes? If Weaver had pitched shut out ball, would he still have been a mistake?

Mind you, my feeling is in terms of on-field and BP moves, I question many of Torre's moves. Of course, as I watch other games and the PS, I usually have questions on all the managers moves. And the truth is, for all the blogs and baseball cards I've read, I don't know shit about what managing a team really entails.

Since the outcome of a decision is 99% dependant on the performance of the player, just where do we draw the line on 'mistakes'?

Torre was once asked on camera about his 'biggest mistakes'. He mentioned the 'midges game' and 2 or 3 other incidents. I don't believe he thinks he is infallible, although I'm sure he thinks more of himself then (we) do. Of course, my guess is everyone here feels the same way... that we think more of ourselves, and feel we are right more often then others. Maybe this is even human nature.

Torre was given a salary to do a job, just like many of us have jobs. And like us, Torre must be accountable for the work he is paid to do... to the guy who signs his check.

In terms of this book, it is in print. Anyone can read it. Torre is also doing many TV shows, and will be questioned by many, many people about this book. He's not hiding like McGuire or Palmeiro. He will answer the questions. I'm not sure how he can be any more accountable then that.

12 Rich   ~  Jan 31, 2009 6:31 pm

If Torre actually felt compelled to give fans a window on what honestly happened during "The Yankee Years," then perhaps he should have had the requisite integrity to reveal the hard truths about his own shortcomings, like how his extreme bullpen mismanagement almost single-handedly blew the 2003 WS or the 2004 ALCS. Or how moving A-Rod around in the batting order in the 2006 ALDS, culminated by batting him 8th in Game 4, sent a message of panic to the team. Or how his insistence on sticking with the aging core and his reluctance to incorporate new players into that core, negatively impacted the team's ability to continue to win championships.

MLB managers have very little impact on a team's success or failure, except for bullpen management and lineup construction. It's not like the NFL or the NBA where a new head coach can take the same personnel that lost under the former coach and transform them into a winning team by installing a system that better suits their talents, and by inducing the players to play more cohesively.

Yet somehow Torre, with the aid of his acolytes in the media, has been able to advance the false meme that he is as good a manager as Parcells or Riley are head coaches in their respective sports. Riley and Parcells didn't have losing records at numerous venues in their coaching career, unlike Torre who had a career sub .500 record before being handed the keys to a team that was ready to win under Buck Showalter.

Instead of being eternally grateful to George and the Yankee organization for giving him that golden opportunity to transform his managerial career and become a multi-millioniare, Torre has betrayed their trust. In the process, he has permanently and indelibly stained his public persona, while revealing his flawed private character.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 31, 2009 7:06 pm

Well, honestly,

How many times in an interview with Brian Cashman could you hear "I decided to disregard his injury and performance history because he had a REALLY good previous year!" before the interview got boring and repetitive?

14 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 31, 2009 11:47 pm

That Varitek is a REALLY smart dude:
"Friends who spoke with Varitek this winter say he never understood why the Red Sox wanted to cut his pay, why they were willing to guarantee his deal for only one year, why the economy and his 2008 struggles had cut into his market value, or, remarkably, why his decision to decline arbitration was costing him so much money and limiting other teams' interest."

15 Rich   ~  Feb 1, 2009 12:14 am

[14] If ignorance is bliss, Varitek must be a very happy man.

16 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 1, 2009 12:44 am

Varitek is just such a thoroughly unlikable person.

17 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 1, 2009 12:54 am

[11] Even when it works out, a decision can still be bad/wrong. If I decide to drive drunk, for example, well, that's a very bad decision. Just because I make it home with incident doesn't change that. To me, using Jeff Weaver before Mariano Rivera is akin to driving drunk.

As for Q's, what I would ask is: the book seems to suggest that Torre, as the manager, had his finger on the pulse of the clubhouse, in good times and bad, so how could he possibly have no knowledge of any steroid-related issues. If Cone and the some other players joked about McNamee guys, how could Joe not know? Is it realistic that he knew about "A-fraud", but not "McNamee guys"?

The answer to that question, I suspect, is Torre was probably protecting some players, especially with one of his guys (Pettitte) being involved. So, my next question would be how selective was he in opening up the clubhouse...and does he think it is fair to only dish on the guys he didn't like if his aim was to provide a “piece of history”.

18 thelarmis   ~  Feb 1, 2009 1:07 am

[16] the manager of the place i played tonite is a die-hard sawx fan. he was lamenting the vagitek signing and thoroughly dislikes him. it was really nice to hear a boston fan beat down his captain. i look forward to CC & AJ striking his out and Joba knocking Youk down! i mean, take off your freaking mask before throwing a punch, you chump!

19 51cq24   ~  Feb 1, 2009 2:05 am

[11] "If Weaver had pitched shut out ball, would he still have been a mistake?" yes. if mo had pitched and given up a run, would that still have been the right move? yes. because mo is perhaps the best pitcher of our time, and weaver is shit. there's no genuine issue here.

20 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Feb 1, 2009 6:54 am

[18] Yep!!

[14] I love baseball so, SO much..but seriously, these generally are not guys who provide rational, intellectual debate or even much introspection..Yogi excluded obviously!

21 ny2ca2dc   ~  Feb 1, 2009 10:36 am

Hey Alex, here's another potential line of questions,

For one thing, try to get at how much Torre affected the overall narrative. Does Joe buy into all the shifting tectonics? Or maybe does he think 'a couple bounces the other way and...'?

Also, what kind of thing WOULD Torre have been against including? He says he didn't burn any bridges or violate any clubhouse sanctity, so what about the times Verducci overreached? What would Verducci have liked Torre to be more open about?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver