|Yankees last year at Fenway. Six men on the mound. Six. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net Used with permission.|
I finished reading “The Yankee Years” today. I’m having trouble figuring out how I want to break this down there’s just so much to cover. So, once again, I’ll be a little all over the place.
I think I figured out why Joe Torre gets the lead writing credit on the book. Although it’s obviously written by Tom Verducci and any of Torre’s contributions seem to come in the form of direct quotes, there isn’t one negative word about Torre in the entire 482 (including “Acknowledgments”) pages. More than once we’re told that Torre tells George Steinbrenner that all he wants is to make Steinbrenner “proud”. We repeatedly read about how he always had his players backs (as he rips into David Wells, Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown for the book, to name three) and how he blindly believed Brian Cashman was a friend who would always have his back only to be betrayed at the end. After reading this book, I’m wondering why the photo of Torre on the cover doesn’t have a halo over it.
Also, if Johnny Damon gets someone to read this book to him, he probably won’t be too happy.
There’s a direct quote from him in Chapter 13 (“We Have a Problem”) in regard to the 2007 season: “Every day in the off-season…I didn’t feel like getting ready for baseball…”. He goes on to say he was having too much fun playing with his kids and that he felt “…unprepared to make that decision about playing”. Eesh. I suppose it’s possible that I just forgot reading this quote before, but man…his own words just set up this part of the chapter where we learn that he barely got off his ass for a good portion of the beginning of that season and turned many of his teammates against him in the process. Verducci quotes “a player” as being close to tears when telling Torre (in regard to Damon), “Let’s get rid of him….guys can’t stand him”. And there’s a team meeting recalled where Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera spoke about “relying on each other” without specifically calling out Damon, but it being understood who they were referring to. In this same meeting, Damon got up to speak and repeated the message..much to the surprise of Joe Torre and others. The guy sitting on his ass and being unreliable was the guy telling the rest of the team to get off their asses and be reliable. It’s good to know Johnny’s as thick behind the scenes as he comes across to the media.
And in the event that you’re looking for more reasons to think A*Rod is a bit of a dink, after Joe Torre’s final game with the Yankees, all the players stopped by to say goodbye…except for Slappy. And when he won the MVP a month later and Torre called to congratulate him, A*Rod never returned the call. (Of course, this could also go back to the “Joe Torre has never done anything wrong” theme that permeates the book. Not defending Slappy on another dick move, but this books is wildly one-sided when it comes to anything involving Torre.)