"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 2/5/09

Powered by quite possibly the best 5 minutes ever in “Taxi” …

Here’s the news:

  • Brian Cashman states he’ll never write a book like Torre’s latest, and has some other interesting tidbits from a charity event in Pleasantville:

Someone skeptically asked if Cashman was really satisfied with the situation in center field, and he responded that he expected Melky Cabrera to bounce back after a dismal season last year.

“At the same time,” he said, “I’ve got a kid named Brett Gardner that’s hungry and wants that job.”

  • Over at Newsday, Tom Verducci states his case on the merits of the book, including this:

“He told me he didn’t want to tell any tales or have it be a tell-all book,” Verducci said. “That’s exactly what we told publishers.”

Things got more complicated when Torre left the Yankees, and Torre did tell some tales many believe violated the sanctity of the clubhouse.

Verducci said he warned Torre “people will pull things out of context,” but he dismissed the notion the book crosses any lines.

“I don’t think the book goes into any rooms that were unlit,” Verducci said. “He may illuminate things further, but you think about Alex Rodriguez fitting into the clubhouse; was that a surprise he had trouble?

[My take: Detailing that Kevin Brown was found hiding and curled up in the corner of a room after an awful pitching performance isn’t (almost literally) “going into any rooms that were unlit”?]

  • The News’ Vic Ziegel doesn’t understand what the fuss is about with the book:

There was hardly a shock in the well-written pages, no reason to stop a single press, nothing hotter than PG-13. OK, here’s one thing that might have a shelf life: Expect a bunch of headlines this season playing off the nickname A-Fraud.

A-Rod needs careful handling? David Wells isn’t David Niven? The night Kevin Brown cried? (Who knew the indifferent Brown had tear ducts.) Torre and Brian Cashman were drifting apart? None of that should have surprised even the casual baseball fan.

For some reason, though – maybe because the book was touted as an inside-out look at the Yankees – a few pre-publication leaks suggested the perfect storm. No, sorry, “The Yankee Years” is no tsunami.

If there’s a mystery here, or a complaint from the e-mailers who love to complain, it’s why this book was written in the first place. Why did Torre, who insisted everything that happens in the Bronx stay in the Bronx, decide to break the 11th commandment and violate the sanctity of the clubhouse? Funny, but Torre doesn’t think he was The Great Violator.

  • Johnny Damon supports A-Rod … and doesn’t plan on reading the book.
  • The DFAed Chase Wright has found a home, and ex-Yankee Ramiro Mendoza is apparently back from the pitcher’s graveyard.  Both of the have the Brewers to thank.
  • While CitiGroup is getting heat over its $400 million naming rights deal with the Mets in the midst of their bailout, Bank of America (another troubled firm) continues to negotiate with the Yankees for sponsorship rights.
  • If you have a BP.com subscription, run over there to read Christina Kahrl’s excellent analysis of the dilemma faced by the Yanks regarding the declining defense of Derek Jeter, with a possible (logical?) solution (moving him to CF).  Here’s a snippet:

When Jeter was able to provide a Wins Above Replacement mark of 6.9—a mark that includes his defense—as recently as 2006, the debate was puerile, if not downright academic. Ask any GM if he’d like a seven-win player at shortstop, and he’ll say yes. …

However, with Jeter’s WARP down to 3.5 in 2007 and 2.5 last season, and with his overall offensive contributions coming down from MVP-worthy to “merely” very good, especially in the power department, we start getting into questions over whether or not his recent decline as a defender might really re-spark the question of whether or not Jeter really belongs at short, or if the Yankees might not be better off putting him at another position. …

Obviously, getting Jeter’s buy-in is a real-world problem for a team with a real-world need for a center fielder, because the margins are too thin in the tough AL East for the Yankees to really rely on the wrong Cabrera in the lineup. Crying over last year’s spilled Melky won’t help you catch up to the Rays and Red Sox, but signing Orlando Cabrera, providing the team with a useful-enough hitter and a slick-fielding asset at short could make a small but important difference to a bad defensive ballclub.

[My take: In the “timing is everything” category, I think if “Mr. Torre” were still manager, and was somehow convinced that the time had come to move Jeter to CF, that Jeter would do it without hesitation.   Now …. with Mr. Torre gone, I don’t know if Jeter would oblige so easily.

Also of note, with the addition of strikeout pitchers Sabathia and Burnett, Jeter’s D deficiencies will be obviated slightly.  Its not going to as big an issue in 2009 as it would have otherwise been had the Yanks signed guys like Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf.

If I remember the fielding metrics, Jeter is good going back on pop-ups and on foul balls. One “could” extrapolate that and say he could gauge flyballs to the OF (though diving for balls in the CF/RF gap may be an issue) :-)]

  • Here’s a light and flaky puff pastry piece with Jeter at SI.com.
  • Happy 54th birthday to Mike Heath.  As a 23-year-old rookie, Heath was Munson’s primary back-up on the 1978 team.  He was then included in part of a major trade (along with Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos, and cash) to the Rangers for Dave Righetti, Juan Beniquez, Mike Griffin, Paul Mirabella, and Greg Jemison (minors).  He then went on to play 13 more seasons, despite amassing more than 400 ABs in only two of those years.
  • On this date in 1921, the Yankees purchase ten acres of land in the Bronx, to be used as the site for their new park.
  • On this date in 1935, 39-year-old Babe Ruth is released by the Bombers.
  • On this date in 1942, the Boston Braves obtain outfielder Tommy Holmes from the Yankees for Buddy Hassett and Gene Moore in one of the best trades in Braves history. Hassett will hit .284, then join the Navy and never make it back to the major leagues. The much-traveled Moore will never play for the Yankees. Holmes couldn’t break into New York’s All-Star-packed lineup, but he will be a .302 career hitter and will win the Most Valuable Player Award in 1948 after leading his team to the National League pennant.

Finally … happy 75th birthday to Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron!

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Bum Rush   ~  Feb 5, 2009 8:39 am

“I don’t think the book goes into any rooms that were unlit,” Verducci said. “He may illuminate things further, but you think about Alex Rodriguez fitting into the clubhouse; was that a surprise he had trouble?

Seriously, when is someone going to call out the 2006 Verducci-Torre collaboration that did more to out this point than anything else? Verducci can honestly say this with a straight face without acknowledging his role? Then, of course he's pretending like all of the quotes were somehow equally, and widely, known before the book. If so, why even write it?

I guess when there's money to be made it doesn't matter how you you twist logic to somehow defend both yourself and your profits. $750k before a book has sold is a very nice payday for a baseball writer. He's looking at a few million overall. Not a bad trade for your professional integrity.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 5, 2009 8:58 am

Bum, I'm not going to defend Verducci but I highly doubt he's going to end up pocketing "a few million" on this, or any other book, he writes.

D...bless you for Iggy first thing in the morning.

3 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 8:58 am

I have to agree with you; if having "hot sauce" slathered on your testicles by your trainer is something that was public information, then I must have been living in a cave the last ten years with my ears over my head screaming "LALALALALALA!!!". And oh, did anyone else know Damon was suffering from depression instead of being a washed-up and self-centered jerk? Btw, if I really stood by what I said, why on earth do I have to explain the context any further to Hannah Storm? Didn't she read the book like everyone else?

I dunno, the more Joe and Verducci go around explaining context in a way that makes the publishers look like absolute liars, the less inclined than before I am to even comment on it, never mind review it. I really hope that this is the last thing I have to say about it here, but I won't really know that until I read the book to find out what Verducci said I would write...

4 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:02 am

[2] He would if he wrote about Harry Potter's quiddich years >;)

5 ny2ca2dc   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:08 am

This will be the last thing I'll say about the book, which I won't read; I like that Ty Kepner has called out Torre on his nonsense about A-Fraud-gate - the book says it was behind his back, Torre says it was joking, to his face. So now I just want someone to confront Torre/Verducci on that disparity. That point alone makes methinks the whole book is bullshit, and the descriptions of the narrative and squeezing the history into a preconceived notion of Yankee decline and the rise of the Sawx and the Rays and bla bla bla...

6 ms october   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:09 am

damn hank aaron looks pretty good for 75.

and file this book in the f off i really don't care what anyone involved has to say about it anymore folder (not aimed at you diane - i know you are just compiling the links )

7 Bum Rush   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:18 am


According to Sandomir, he and Torre split a $1.5 million advance and any resulting profits. So, that's gotta be at least $1 million clear for each of them. Depending on the number of copies, I don't think $2 million is out of the question. Either way, great payday for selling your integrity.

And oh, did anyone else know Damon was suffering from depression instead of being a washed-up and self-centered jerk?

Exactly. We were told at the time it was a family matter and with nothing since.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:25 am

Joe's biggest problem here is that he wants to have his cake and eat it too, as horribly cliched as that sounds.

He wants to "celebrate" his 12 years with the Yankees, the same 12 years that he was "relieved" when they ended. He wants to share cringeworthy stories about A-Rod trying to fit in (the coffee story) but claims that if he saw him he'd "give him a hug". Maybe it's Joe whose too worried about what everyone thinks about him.

Then again we've gone down this road before, in '97 when Joe and Tom couldn't resist using "Chasing A Dream" as both a forum for "celebrating" the '96 WS and taking (legitimate) shots at Sierra and Rogers. So this isn't even all that new.

9 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 5, 2009 9:58 am

I'll actually be picking up the book today

10 OldYanksFan   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:26 am

"And oh, did anyone else know Damon was suffering from depression instead of being a washed-up and self-centered jerk?"
From my memory, there were articles stating that JD, in the middle of a contract, in the middle of the season, was thinking of retiring. I can't remember the word 'depression' being used, but I guess considering the circumstances, one might deduce that JD wasn't feeling great about life.

The Brown 'crying' thing may have been embarassing, but it probably made Brown look better to many of us, as at least it showed he cared about his performance.

Simple question: In 2 years from now, when this book is brought up, what will be the general concensus? (1) It was good for baseball, ie: documeting history -or- (2) Should never have been written.

11 hoppystone   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:28 am

Sorry, but please make me understand why anyone, let alone an astute Yankee fan, wants to put their hard-earned money into Torre and Verducci's pockets for this nonsense. It's nothing more than a shameless, pathetic money grab, and a 'PR ploy' that has backfired in an embarrassing manner.

If none of this is 'news', as they would have you believe, then why would people line up around the block and waste their money on it? If it is indeed a tell-all, well, that's just deplorable beyond words. And the dance they're doing is just sad.

They're both dead to me now. Bring on P&C and 2009!

12 Bum Rush   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:36 am

Simple question: In 2 years from now, when this book is brought up, what will be the general concensus? (1) It was good for baseball, ie: documeting history -or- (2) Should never have been written.

Unless, you can point to what exactly was "documented" I don't see how any one can conclude #1. Heck, even Verducci and Torre are saying there's nothing new (@11 - agree completely).

As for #2, I'm glad it was written. Torre's true colors come shining through. Verducci too, but then he wouldn't have gotten at least $1 million without Torre's name (and "stories") attached.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:37 am

Unless Torre is just blatantly lying in the book, I have no problem with him writing it. (Then again, I read Billy Martin's autobiography, so I guess honesty isn't always a necessity) Anyone that would come off bad in this book made their own damn bed.

14 OldYanksFan   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:37 am

The other day Cashman said (amoungst other things) that he thinks Girardi could work on and improve his 'media relations'.

Is this a negative thing to say? Does this mean Girardi is BAD with the media? Is this a clubhouse thing that should have been kept inhouse? Did Cashman throw Girardi under the bus? Hurt his confidence? Hurt their relationship?

Do we have to define a line in the sand here?
Do we look at every statement/issue that has any negative connotations, and decide whether "Yeah.... you can say that" vs "HE BROKE THE SANCTITY OF THE CLUBHOUSE"

The other day Paul Quantril was interviewed and was all over Torre for 'breaking the code', and in the same sentence called ARod a 'dickhead' and a 'Fraud'.

I find these rules of proper etiquette somewhat difficult to negotiate.

15 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:51 am

I think the book adds to the portrait of the team...along with Joel Sherman's book and Buster Olney's. Don't know if any of them is a great, definitive book (I think Olney's is probably the best written of them), but taken together they all add something to the conversation.

16 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:54 am

I honestly don't get it ... the outrage, without reading it. Then some are outraged that there are lineups to buy it. It smacks, a lot, of 'hell hath no fury' ... we worshipped Torre till we ... didn't want him no more. We wanted him to ride off into the sunset in lantern-jawed silence till he came back for a retired number day.

He's deprived us of that standing ovation? Hang him high! (Without reading the book.) I'm curious, anyone read Ball Four? Anyone think Jim Bouton should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for betraying clubhouse (and whorehouse) secrets? Best I can tell Ball Four usually shows in the top 10 of all-time baseball books. He praised widely for clueing the world in to some of what really went on.

So is this all about a manager (any manager, or just our saintly one?) instead of a player writing about his years with a team, or - more accurately - working with a journalist and giving a picture some might not like?

Also, I'm curious ... is it worse to know Damon was suffering from depression or to think he's a stuck up fat cat malingering prima donna? I wonder if the subtext here is a jock world discomfort with the idea of depression ... in 2009? Is it a truly shocking betrayal to reveal a pitcher was stressed and distraught over a bad performance? Is this a to-the-grave secret?

Finally, the issue of whether something is 'new' or not ... non-issue. The essence is surely in the writing, the 'voice' the overall picture presented. There are dozens and dozens of books on the Yankees, most are recyclings of known material, some dig or interview deeper but there isn't a lot that isn't out there in some way (as OYF suggests). We buy and read (some of us do, anyhow) new material for perspective, context, the personal angle ... Torre's 'read', say, on some of the games during the glory years. We know what 'happened' in those games, we don't necessarily know what he has to say.

But I'll end by repeating my main query to the hang him, he's dead to me group: is Jim Bouton dead to you?

17 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 11:21 am

[16] No Horace on the Damon thing. It's one thing to as you say assume that Damon was being a jerk, but it's another for someone to reveal something that personal if the person affected had no intention to; and so far I think it's fair to say that Damon didn't intend to because we didn't hear it from him. Unless I hear from Damon saying it's cool, I will continue to believe that. To some people, that's a personal issue regardless of how people would perceive you. What if it were something like HIV or cancer? Do we have a right to know, and therefore it's okay for someone else to reveal it without knowing whether it was okay with that person? Hospitals and medical personnel aren't even allowed to do that. And before you say it's hyperbole, understand that to quite a few people, depression is a serious and personal issue. Again, now that it's out there, how does Damon feel about it? I'll go by that.

18 OldYanksFan   ~  Feb 5, 2009 11:40 am

[16] I agree that it's depressing not to hear doubt or some anger, but real hatred. One of the distressing things I get from discussions on baseball blogs (although to a much lesser extent here then other places), is some on the vehiment hatred people express.

I wonder if 'kindly old dying Steinbrenner' is also dead to these guys. I mean, he hardly had any discretions worth mentioning. Maybe blackballing a player here, or a little illegal campaign contribution there, or being banned from the game.... small stuff really.

But for as nasty and vengeful as Steinbrenner was, I think as we look at the full context of George, we feel OK about the guy.

I've been following the Yankees since 1965, right around the time they brought us a kid named Horace Clarke. Roy White came up the same year. I've seen a fair amount of THorace Clarke Yankees stuff, both good and bad.

Torre starting working for a madman that owned a zoo. What he did to turn around the perception of the Yankees and make them a respected and admired team was just short of amazing. I will always hold him in high regard for allowing me to once again respect the team that I loved.

19 Mr. Max   ~  Feb 5, 2009 11:43 am

[14] Doesn't help that Arod basically ruined Quantrill's season, and maybe career, when he ran into him in Japan.....

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Feb 5, 2009 11:44 am

"No Horace on the Damon thing. It’s one thing to as you say assume that Damon was being a jerk, but it’s another for someone to reveal something that personal if the person affected had no intention to"

Chyll - in the book, JD is interviewed, and makes these statements himself. There are direct quotes from JD as to what was happening at the time. Get it?

Really, nobody should be talking about this subject (including myself) without having read the book. If you really think the page or 2 of sensationalized material that was 'pre-released' speaks to the content and context of the book, I think you will find that you are wrong.

21 Raf   ~  Feb 5, 2009 12:23 pm

Detailing that Kevin Brown was found hiding and curled up in the corner of a room after an awful pitching performance isn't (almost literally) "going into any rooms that were unlit"?

No more than hearing about Ed Whitson hyperventilating, as relayed in Madden's book "Damned Yankees"

22 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 12:25 pm

[20] Very well. I have absolutely nothing more to say about anything having to do with the book >;)

23 Rich   ~  Feb 5, 2009 2:10 pm

“I don’t think the book goes into any rooms that were unlit,” Verducci said.

I am soooo glad I missed the "Steve Donahue rubs Roger Clemens with liniment" segment on the YES pregame show.

It's one thing to be self-serving, but that's outright mendacity.

24 Rich   ~  Feb 5, 2009 2:18 pm

My take: In the "timing is everything" category, I think if "Mr. Torre" were still manager, and was somehow convinced that the time had come to move Jeter to CF, that Jeter would do it without hesitation. Now .... with Mr. Torre gone, I don't know if Jeter would oblige so easily.

That's the point. Torre was so willfully blind to anything remotely negative about Jeter that he could never have become convinced that the time had come for Jeter to move from SS. As an analogy, look at how long he kept Bernie in CF past the time that he was embarrassing himself and hurting the team.

Moving from SS should be a condition precedent to any contract extension Jeter that receives.

25 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 5, 2009 2:25 pm

as per MLB Trade Rumors:

Ben Sheets has a torn flexor tendon in his elbow that might require surgery. There is some debate as to whether the Brewers would have to pay for the procedure. The Rangers and Sheets agreed to a two-year deal last week, but the physical threw a wrench into it. GM Jon Daniels says he's not optimistic at this point.

dodged that bullet

26 Raf   ~  Feb 5, 2009 2:40 pm

I guess Sheets should've had the surgery towards the end of the season. Take a year off, then come back as strong as ever. Out of curiosity, who paid for Lieber's & Dotel's surgery?

27 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 2:44 pm

[25] Yeah, it really didn't make sense that almost every team was avoiding him unless he had a significant injury. File that under the unlit room category or just trade secrets?

28 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 5, 2009 3:05 pm

[27] That was my argument the whole time, if everyone who has seen this guy's medical reports is taking a pass then doesn't that set off some major alarms? I mean sure at their best I'd rather have Sheets over Burnett, but that doesn't count for a whole lot if Sheets never sees the field.

29 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 3:24 pm

[26] My guess is that whichever team announced the injury would also pay for the surgery, but in Sheet's case it may depend on when it was diagnosed. The cost of surgery and rehab would be negligible to the Yanks I imagine, but the Rangers, despite creating the World's Stupidest Sports Contract For A Team That Couldn't Afford It, they may have to bite the bullet despite the right to back out due to the physical's findings. What else do they have?

Question is, after the surgery does he become Leiber/Dotel, or Pedro/Jaret Wright?

[28] This year will tell. AJ says he's discovered something that may contribute to his longevity, and if last year's an indication, it may be worth it (fingers crosses in triple-doubles) >;)

30 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2009 5:38 pm

It's not too late to say Happy Birthday to The (Real) Hammer! Loved that I was compared to him as a kid in Little League...

31 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 5, 2009 5:41 pm

"What does a yellow light mean?"

"Slow down."

Diane, thank you, thank you - my all-time favorite Taxi scene! I can't wait to send it to my dad.

As for the Torre book - HOW many days until pitchers and catchers report?

32 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Feb 5, 2009 7:47 pm

Torre book..can this whole thing go the way of Sarah Palin please (far away and never heard from again?)

Happy Birthday Hammerin' Hank!!

[30] Little League is great, isn't it? I was compared to Yogi for my willingness to swing at any pitch within a mile of the plate...funnily enough I didn't make it past JV

33 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 5, 2009 10:40 pm

[25] No surprise. As far back as November, Girardi talked about Sheets "honesty in dealing with his health", which to me meant the Yankees knew he had a serious injury and he wasn't trying to hide it. As a result, I don't think he ever was a serious option. Having said that, if I was the Yankees, I would sign him to 2-year deal with a 3rd year option...the first two years would be for a nominal amount so he could have the surgery and rehab, and the 3rd year would be in place in case the surgery is a sucess. Basically, the Yankees should try to sign Sheets to a Leiber-like deal.

34 edoubletrouble   ~  Feb 7, 2009 11:22 am


masterful and hysterical scene
great to see it again

again, Big Al
thanks for sharing

e dubs

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