The man who was once revered as the manager with the seemingly perfect gift to always keep a team united while guiding the Yankees to six World Series appearances and four World Series championships, while never missing the playoffs during his twelve-year reign as the Yankees’ skipper, probably went too far in taking unprovoked shots at Yankee players and his ex-bosses.
The book is Torre’s vehicle to show how he was wronged by the Yankees. It was Torre’s chance to attack the Steinbrenners and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman for what he perceived as a slap in the face after all of his aforementioned success.
As Torre stated in the book, and as he detailed on Friday, speaking in a television interview about the book with CNN’s Larry King, the reason he declined the Yankees’ offer to return after twelve successful years, wasn’t about the money. It was about respect and the potential feeling of managing while constantly looking over his shoulder. “Winning is enough motivation,” he told King, regarding the Yankees partial-faith, incentive-laden deal that they put on the table. “That they thought I needed motivation to do a better job, bothered me.” On that, Torre was right. He accomplished enough over twelve years to earn the Yankees’ trust in him.
However, where Torre was wrong and spiteful was that the attacks in the book went a step further, not stopping at addressing the reasons he felt disrespected and unappreciated by the Yankees’ offer to keep him. Torre also hypocritically attacked the same players that he always taught to live by the rules ‘What happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse.’
But, Yankee fans and the Yankee organization shouldn’t be too concerned with Torre’s comments, as bitter as they seem. Rather, they should be worried that Torre’s book confirms something that they really already knew -- that the Yankees’ overall direction has been flawed over the past eight years.
Torre’s book validates that it’s not overvalued players or a deficiency in talent which has prevented the Yankees from returning over the past eight years to its championship glory days of the late 1990’s and 2000, but it underscores the Yankees’ lack of chemistry in spite of having the talent needed to win.
Most telling in that regard, were Torre’s comments to King about players like Alex Rodriguez. Torre gushed over Rodriguez, saying he was “the most gifted player I’ve ever managed. He can do everything.” Yet, he also said “When Alex came over, it became strained in the clubhouse. He needs all those statistics. He monopolized the attention. He’s a lightning rod. Everything he does commands a great deal of attention. Alex coming in, just like when [Jason] Giambi came in, it changed the personality somewhat.”
That was Torre’s way of telling King that there’s a big difference between simply collecting as many talented, high-priced mercenaries (like Rodriguez or Giambi) as possible, and building a team which may be a little less talented, but which had hard-nosed, all-heart, team-first players like Scott Brosius or Tino Martinez, who won championships under Torre.
Yankees fans and the Yankees’ organization may not like the way Torre said it, and they shouldn’t. But, the bigger message beyond his words is a truth they must confront and change if they hope to see the Yankees return to the types of days when Torre managed a winner in New York.