Before this week, the greatest literary reference ever made about Joe Torre was by Jim Bouton in his ground-breaking classic 1970 diary “Ball Four.”
From May 28:
“Jim Pagliaroni joined the club tonight and is going to be a welcome addition. He was describing a girl that one of the ballplayers had been out with and said, ‘It’s hard to say exactly what she looked like. She was kind of a Joe Torre with tits.’ This joke can only be explained with a picture of Joe Torre. But I’m not sure any exist. he dissolves camera lenses.”
Oh, wait. Another Torre reference, from Aug. 27:
“A lot of times during the exhibition season you change your clothes in the hotel because there are no clubhouse facilities. So you go down to the lobby in your shower slippers, carrying your spikes in your hand. On this day (back in spring training), we’re told Joe Torre of the Cardinals swears, his roomate, already leaving with spikes in his hand, picked up a girl in the corridor and in a matter of moments, had talked her into his bed. The quote from Torre: ‘The last thing I remember seeing was my roommate screwing this broad and all he had on was his baseball socks and shower slippers.'”
Oh, do tell, Big Joe. If only “The Yankee Years” promised to be that entertaining.
The latest link between the former Yankee pitcher Bouton (a link to his official site) and the former Yankee skipper Torre came last week, when Bouton defended Torre’s right to breach whatever “clubhouse sanctity” is left.
“What’s the big deal? It isn’t as if Joe Torre is revealing things that people didn’t know,” Bouton told the New York Daily News (linked here). “… Why in the world anyone is still talking about the sanctity of the clubhouse is beyond me. Baseball and the Yankees should feel lucky that this book is generating so much attention in January… there is no job hitting a ball with a stick unless a lot of people are convinced it’s important … Books are going to be written. Therefore, don’t act like a jerk.”
Bouton was the first of many to cross an imaginary line between player confidentiallity and a best-selling book (linked here), and he wont’ be the last.
Torre may be acting like the biggest jerk this week, promoting his new book, “The Yankee Years” so much that he must be passing outsted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in the green room of every major TV show these last few days.
Wednesday, it was Torre on with ESPN’s Hannah Storm and “Late Show With David Letterman.” (see the clip above, where Letterman takes a shot at the co-author’s photo). Today, a piece he taped Tuesday with Bob Costas airs on the MLB Network, helping Costas launch his new show.
Yet, from those who have read it — and we admit, we now have it but haven’t made enough trips to the restroom to pour through it like we may have with Pete Rose’s “My Prison Without Bars” when he finally copped to gambling (linked here) — there’s a consensus that, because co-author Tom Verducci writes of Torre in the third person and lays it out as if he’s the observer of all this, there’s nothing really for Torre to tell all to. Verducci tells the story, not Torre, if truth be told.
If that makes any more sense than anything else.
So, after we read it, and after you read it, and after David Wells learns to read, let’s get together and start our own square-table discussion of what’s really between the covers of Torre’s why-can’t-he-let-it-go tome.
You got a read on this situation? Comment or email at email@example.com. As for the MLB Network highlights of the Costas Q-and-A that airs today at 5 p.m., but they really aren’t that much different than anything else we’ve been reading/hearing/smelling from Torre’s excerpts/interviews/aftershave. But read them if you must:
== On the first excerpts that were made public:
Torre: “It’s unfortunate, because I think A-Rod is going to be called ‘A-Fraud’ for the longest time because of it… I’ve been through the book four or five times, so I knew the way it was written and what the book was going to be about, and it was far from what was being talked about.”
== On how the book was conceived:
Torre: “You can’t spend 12 years doing what I was doing for a franchise like the Yankees, having the success that I’ve had there, and not want to be able to talk about it. I wanted to be able to talk about it. In my opinion, it’s a great book…Yeah, I may have walked the line a little bit, but I, in my opinion, didn’t violate anything.”
== On those who say Torre now can’t be trusted by his players:
Torre: “I don’t have a response to that. I just know myself, and I know that I’ve never been driven by anything that seems to be hinted at. I did talk about Randy Johnson; I did talk about the difficult time he had trying to relax in New York, trying to pitch in New York. I certainly tried to help him as I did Alex, just to get used to and what not to worry about. In Randy’s case, he was so concerned about what everybody else thought, what everybody else was writing, and I told him, ‘Unless you strike out 12 guys a game, you’re not going to satisfy people.'”
== On how his image is perceived:
Torre: “I hope it’s not taken down, I really do. I just hope that people understand that when I wrote this book, or wrote my part of this book, that it was done, really, selfishly because I wanted to relive what went on in these 12 years. There were great times and there were times that were tough to deal with; but again, it was reality. It’s reality; in the years that you manage in New York, for a tough boss, and, yeah, I got paid very, very well, there’s no question about it, we had a lot of success. As I say, I was proud of the 12 years and I’m proud of this book.”