Tagged: Joe Torre

An Open Letter To “Yankee Faithful” – Stand By Your Man!

This article in today’s Daily News really bothered me. The Yankee fans that were interviewed expressed their wish that Joe Torre could manage the ’09 Yankees; they don’t think Joe Girardi is up to the task.

Memo to them: The torch has been passed.
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Torre had a great run and I was terribly sad to see him go, as I made clear in The New York Times. But he’s gone. He’s with the Dodgers. Cashman and Company picked Girardi over Mattingly (and Pena), and he’s the one who’s been sitting in the manager’s office for a year now. In other words, it’s time to rally around him.
Did his rookie year go smoothly? No. Were there “issues” right from Day 1? Sure. A few examples:
* Ian Kennedy was supposed to make a start, but it was raining. So Girardi ended up using him in relief. A head-scratcher.
* Girardi seemed to shuffle the lineup almost daily. At first I thought he was being creative. Then I decided he was being disruptive. Players like to show up for a game not having to wonder about their status from day to day. This year he needs to establish a plan and stick to it, barring injuries.
* Speaking of player injuries, Girardi had a very tough time explaining their various ailments to the beat writers, as if he’d be giving away state secrets. His evasiveness came to a head at the end of the season with the mystery surrounding Mo’s shoulder. A testy press conference ensued.
* Cano wasn’t getting it done, and Girardi waited until September to bench him. Hard to fathom.
* Girardi used Wilson Betemit in situations where even I would have been a better option. Seriously. And he had an odd attachment to Kyle Farnsworth, even though the rest of us hid our eyes whenever Farnsy came in to relieve.
* Girardi banned candy and junk food from the clubhouse, and there were rumors that the veteran players thought he was too uptight.
All that said, the man wants to win badly and he’s got a lot of heart.
He’s not cool and collected like Torre. He doesn’t sit on the bench sipping green tea. He doesn’t even sit – he stands constantly, clenching his jaw and looking like he’s living and dying with every pitch. Nothing laid back about this Joe.
Sometimes he loses it completely.
But don’t we want our manager to be passionate? Fiery? A risk-taker?
I laugh at those who say, “Girardi would have to be an idiot not to be able to manage the team the Yankees are handing him.”
Really? If the job were so easy, why did Jim Leyland have such a tough time in Detroit last year? He’s arguably one of the best managers in the game. Certainly one of the most experienced.
With all the talk of Girardi’s “short leash” should the Yankees get off to a slow start, I’m standing by my man. He wasn’t necessarily my pick to replace Torre; I vacillated between him and Mattingly. He doesn’t have a provocative bestseller on the shelves. Nobody calls him the “Sinatra of Baseball.” He doesn’t hang out with Billy Crystal. But he’s my manager, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. 
What I’m saying is that I plan on us staying together – for the sake of the kids.

Dining With Larry King and Joe Torre

I kept dinner simple tonight, so I could watch Larry King interview Joe Torre and not get food all over myself. The menu, therefore, was this.
I turned on the TV and sat across the table from my husband Michael. I was eager to hear what Joe would say about The Book.
To set up the interview, Larry showed the audience a picture of himself at Yankee Stadium last year and explained that it had been a very windy day.
He introduced Joe, who said what every guest says: “It’s great to be here, Larry.”
Larry explained that they would be fielding questions not only from callers and e-mailers around the country, but also from fans gathered at Mickey Mantle’s restaurant in New York
and Barney’s Beanery in Los Angeles.
Since most people have already seen the show or read accounts of it, I’ll just offer my favorite moments.
Larry: Boomer Wells calls you a punk for breaking that code. Are you hurt by that?
Joe: Nah.
Me: I’d be hurt if Boomer called me a punk.
Michael: I’d be afraid if he called me anything. He’s a big guy.
Larry: What do you think about A-Rod and Madonna and all that? I know it was after you left, but does it surprise you?
Joe: Sure, it surprised me. And I feel bad for him.
Me: He feels bad for A-Rod because he has two young children?
Michael: Or because he thinks Madonna is skanky.
Comment from a male patron at Mickey Mantle‘s: Joe, seeing you is like seeing an uncle I’m not supposed to talk to anymore, because he divorced my aunt. I’m confused and sad.
Me: If he picked up the phone and called that uncle, he wouldn’t be confused and sad.
Michael: Pass the Parmesan cheese.
Question from a female patron at Mickey Mantle’s: Did you sign any sort of pre-nup with the Dodgers before you started with them or maybe since the book has come out?
Joe: Uh, as far as what?
Me: A pre-nup. She’s kidding, right?
Michael: I guess she’s never been married.
E-mail from a male in New Jersey: Should you be fortunate enough to play the Yankees in the World Series and come up to A-Rod during the first game, what would you say to him?
Joe: Unless I’m completely off base, I think there would be a hug involved.
Me: (Laughing uncontrollably)
Michael: Are you choking?
Me: No. I just don’t see the hug happening.
Larry: Did you expect the book to shock people?
Joe: No. To me, this book is going to be a piece of history.
Me/Michael at the same time: Does he think he’s winning a Pulitzer?
Caller from New York: What would you say to Yankee fans who might say you turned your back on an organization that provided you with so much fame and fortune?
Joe: Well, I hope that’s not the case.
Me: Wouldn’t he know if that’s the case?
Michael: He’s good at ducking stuff. He’d probably make an effective politician.
Question from a female patron at Mickey Mantle’s: I’m a big Yankee fan. All of us here are very ardent. And we’re involved in all the ins and outs of everything that goes on with the Yankees. How do you find the Dodgers fans compare?
Joe: The Yankee fans in New York were about as special as any fan that’s ever been around.
Me: What’s this “were?” We still are special, with or without him.
Michael: Don’t take this personally.
Me: I take everything personally. You know that.
Michael: Then maybe I shouldn’t say this.
Me: What?
Michael: The pasta’s cold and rubbery, and the sauce tastes like a salt lick.
Me: Oh, really. Well, I was busy blogging all day. I didn’t have time to fly off to Italy and hunt down the homemade stuff from some Mama Mia in Naples.
Michael: I’m just saying.
Me: That I should stop blogging?
Michael: No. I like reading your blog.
Me: But you never leave a comment.
Michael: I’m your husband. It would be weird.
Me: You could have a cool screen name. Like YanksGuy or BomberBoy. Maybe even your own blog.
Michael: What would I blog about?
Me: Same thing the rest of us blog about. 
Michael: Nothing, in other words.
Me: Yes. Exactly.

Never Dull In Yankeeville


According to this report on MLB.com, the Yankees are considering whether to insert a confidentiality clause in the contracts of players, managers and coaches in the wake of Torre’s book. Sounds like an overreaction, but it doesn’t surprise me. There’s been a lot of finger-pointing over the last few days; when Jeff Nelson and Boomer Wells hit the airwaves to discuss the breached “code of silence,” you know things have gotten out of hand. But a confidentiality clause? In baseball? Seriously?
It’s very common for employees of celebrities to sign such agreements – specifically so they won’t write books about their experience. But a ballplayer? A manager? Come on. I can certainly understand the impulse to want to enforce the rule: What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. But I’d also hate to be deprived of such wonderful entertainment as “Ball Four” and “The Bronx Zoo.” And rather than create a climate of trust, wouldn’t a confidentiality clause engender a mood of mistrust in the organization – that a guy’s freedom of speech is being denied? No small matter.
I say the Yankees should lower the volume. The furor over Torre’s book won’t last past the next news cycle or two. Once he’s in Arizona presiding over the Dodgers’ spring training camp, that’ll be that.
And speaking of spring training, I got my tickets yesterday for the March 6th game against the Tigers. Sweet!
They’re in section 104, row MM. I’ll be looking right out over my new first baseman.
In my fantasy, here’s what’ll happen when I get to Tampa.
I’ll have my Barnes & Noble signing that afternoon, then head to Steinbrenner Field.
When I get to the ballpark, my Yankees will be thrilled to see me. (I said it was a fantasy, O.K.?)
Jeter will give me a fist pump.
Jorge will break out in joyous laughter.
CC and AJ will look at each other and say simultaneously, “So this is the She-Fan our wives keep telling us about – the one who’s taking them shopping.”
And Mo, my favorite Yankee of all, will get down on the ground and thank the Lord that I’ve come to watch him play.
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Yankees aside, I’m looking forward to having dinner with some of the media people who were so helpful to me during the ’07 season. Tampa has plenty of good restaurants, so let the fun – and the eating – begin!

Call Me An A-Fraud Apologist But…

…he carried the Yankees on his back in 2007.
There he was, rounding the bases after hitting home run #500. I was sitting behind home plate that afternoon. Everybody at the Stadium went crazy. The Yankees spilled out onto the field and bear-hugged their teammate. It was a celebratory moment in an otherwise discouraging season; the Yanks spent time in the cellar during the first half, only to rally in the second half to make it into the playoffs as the wild card.
One of the main reasons they did make it through was A-Rod and his 54 homers and 156 RBIs. He was on fire in ’07. He hit in the clutch. He did everything that was asked of him on defense. He earned that MVP award. He fizzled against Cleveland in the ALDS, but so did everyone else. Jeter. Jorge. Jason. I didn’t think it was possible to hit into so many double plays, but that’s what they did. Wang’s two dismal performances didn’t help.
I love Joe Torre. I always will. I miss his leadership and can’t wait to read his book. I just feel the need to stick up for A-Rod, who might have saved Joe’s job early in the season with all those homers.
Is he a philandering phony?
Does he have a tendency to do bush-league things?
And check.
(Who can forget his “Mine!” or “I got it!” in Toronto?)
Does he love to look at himself?
Is he jealous of Jeter’s popularity with the fans?
Does he seek attention even as he claims not to want it?
Check. Here’s an item in today’s NY Post to prove it.
He is not a model citizen. We know that. But in 2007 he led my team to its 12th consecutive postseason, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
Here’s a clip from the champagne party after the Yanks clinched at the Trop. Interesting that A-Rod gives Torre a shout out.

It’s War! My Book Vs. Joe Torre’s!

As fate would have it, my book comes out on the very same day as Torre’s: February 3rd. His may be grabbing all the headlines. His may convey the gravitas befitting a Hall of Fame manager. His may have a #24 ranking on his Pre-Order page on Amazon (mine is #100,368). But hear this, people. In the words of Dylan Thomas, “I will not go gentle into the good night!”
Instead, I will draw bold distinctions between Torre’s book and mine, and we’ll just see who wins the Battle of the Books.
Or mine?
#1) Joe Torre’s book was written by Tom Verducci. My book was written by me.
Wouldn’t you rather read a book by an author who didn’t need to hire someone to tell her story?
#2) Torre’s book says Brian Cashman was mean to him. My book says Jean Afterman, Cashman’s assistant GM, was mean to me.
O.K., that one goes to Torre, because Cashman is higher up on the corporate ladder than Afterman. But the Yankees’ media relations director, Jason Zillo, was also mean to me, so that gives me the advantage in terms of being dissed. Do I hold a grudge against Zillo the way Torre is apparently holding a grudge against Cashman? No. In fact, in an effort to reach across the divide, I sent Zillo an advance copy of my book and thanked him for playing the villain of the story. I took the high road, in other words, unlike the former Yankees manager.
#3) Torre’s book reveals that A-Rod asked a clubhouse attendant to do personal favors for him. My book reveals that I asked a clubhouse attendant to do personal favors for me.
Well, he wasn’t a clubhouse attendant; he was an usher. Still, he did bring me a piece of paper so I could write down my phone number for the Yankee who wanted to ask me out when I was in high school. My anecdote is a first-hand account, while Torre’s is from the point of view of a mere bystander. No contest.
#4) Torre’s book claims that the players called A-Rod “A-Fraud.” My book refrains from name calling except when I was confronted by hostile Red Sox fans.
There was no reason for a man of Torre’s upstanding reputation to drop an A-Bomb on A-Rod.  It makes him look small, petty. The only person I really, truly disparage in my book is me.
#5) Torre’s book is about A-Rod’s “single white woman’s obsession” with Jeter. My book is about a “married white woman’s obsession” with the Yankees.
What does Joe’s remark even mean? That single white women are jealous and catty and somehow crazier than other women? Does he not have a clue that women make up 50% of baseball fans? My book isn’t the literary read of the century, but it doesn’t offend the hand that feeds it.
#6) Torre’s book is an inside story by an insider. My book is an inside story by an outsider.
What I’m trying to say is that Torre sat in the dugout day after day. I sat in the nosebleed section 95% of the time, which gave me a much broader perspective on the game. What does a manager know, anyway? It’s the fans that drive the engine. Derek Jeter said so in his speech at the Yankee Stadium finale.
#7) Torre’s book is deadly serious. My book has jokes.
In these bleak economic times, don’t we need to laugh? Even my husband thinks my book is funny, and most of the jokes are at his expense.
#8) Torre’s book will be promoted on publication day with an appearance on “Letterman.” My book will be promoted on publication day with an appearance at my dentist for a possible root canal.
If nothing else, people should choose my book over Torre’s for the sympathy vote alone.
#9) Torre’s book retails for $26.95 on Amazon. My book goes for $24.95 – a $2 savings!
See #6 about the bleak economic times. Enough said.
#10) Torre’s book is already being touted as a nationwide bestseller. My book was hailed as a bestseller months ago by Jimmy Curran of Baseball, The Yankees and Life.
Since Jimmy knows what he’s talking about, I think I’m in good shape.

A Pitcher Scorned

It happens all the time when it comes to romance. Love is found, love is lost and somebody ends up with a broken heart.


Is that the case with Andy Pettitte? Is his passionate affair with the Yankees over forever? Are they just not that into him anymore? He’s hurt and confused, and who can blame him?
Sure, he’s trying to explore new love with the Dodgers, but it’s an act, trust me. Right now he’s sitting in a BarcaLounger in the den of his ranch and he’s asking, “Why, y’all? How did it go wrong? Things used to be so good with us.”
And they were. Never mind the relationship with Clemens. There were other bonds.
He and Wang were tight, breaking through the language barrier with a language of their own.
He and Jeter needed no words either, whether in times of laughter or tears.
And then there was all the hugging with Jorge
and the cuddling with A-Rod.
Andy’s wife Laura tried to corral her husband’s attention, even showing up in leopard-print outfits on occasion.
But how do you compete with the blissful moments Andy shared with his pinstriped teammates? I mean, he not only played baseball with them. He played dress up with them.
“Why?” he cries out into the dead of the Texas night. “I was fixin’ to take your darn pay cut, but you haven’t called. Not a ‘Hello.’ Not a ‘We miss you.’ Nothin’.”
And so Andy Pettitte, the pitcher scorned, has reached out to Joe Torre for comfort. If the Yankees don’t re-sign the lefty, perhaps he’ll make a fresh start in Los Angeles. A new town. New faces. It could work.
But it will take an attachment to
and there are no guarantees that they’ll fill the void. After all, first love is the hardest to get over.
Just ask Bernie.
He’s still waiting for this to happen.

Dodgers-Phillies Game 3: The Bench-Clearing Brawl That Wasn’t

My adopted team, the Dodgers, won decisively thanks to a five-run first inning and effective pitching throughout – a good, solid performance to shut down the Phillies. Congratulations, Joe. I’m glad your guys are still out there fighting.
Speaking of fighting, how about that nutty third inning? In retaliation for Martin getting hit, Kuroda threw one at Victorino, who took the opportunity to point out where his ribs are located.
As a result, there was the obligatory clearing of benches
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as well as a perfect moment for Joe to man-hug Manny.
No punches were thrown, not even those meaningless, baseball-player-type swings and misses. Order was restored quickly by the umpires, although the way Buck and McCarver hyperventilated you would have thought they were talking about 

Sorry, Joe

I guess it wasn’t the Dodgers’ night. But it was only Game 1. No reason to be so down.

I wish you had pulled Lowe sooner – he sure seemed like he was out of gas after Utley’s at bat – but, hey, you’re the manager. Besides, it was cool being a temporary Dodgers fan in the sense that I didn’t flip out when you lost, the way I would have if this had been the Yankees.
You must be having a great time with the fun players you get to work with now, especially Manny. I tried doing my hair like he does and I just couldn’t make it happen.
And what a wild and crazy guy Lowe turned out to be, huh? He decided to have a roll in the grass in the middle of the game – with a Philly!
Anyhow, I’ve got to say that watching National League games is a different experience for me. It’s like when I used to smoke cigarettes. I was a Marlboro person and when I couldn’t find my brand I’d switch to Winstons. They weren’t as good, but any cigarettes were better than no cigarettes.

Congratulations, Joe

Go ahead and bask in the glow of success with the Dodgers. You earned it. No resentment from me. I’m happy for you and your team. Of course, I wish it could be the Yankees that are joining you in the second round (do you even miss us at all, Joe?), but good job sweeping the Cubs. I bet you’ll get a lot of nice phone calls from Jeter, Pettitte, Jorge, and Mo. I wouldn’t count on one from Hankenstein though.