Jeter: “I wasn’t even looking over there” • 06.26.10
Whether you liked it or not, it was inevitable that last night’s game would be all about the reunion of Joe Torre and the Yankees. There were a hundred story angles — and an off day when there was little else to write about — and every angle was covered a hundred ways. At some point, though, last night’s game was about baseball.
“Pretty much the novelty wore out,” Derek Jeter said. “I wasn’t even looking over there.”
For the most part, that’s the way it will be today and Sunday (except for the obvious Andy Pettitte stories in the finale). Joe Girardi said last night’s game began feeling like any other game as soon as batting practice ended.
The only exception was the exchanging of lineup cards. Girardi rarely goes to the plate to swap lineups, but he went last night, a decision orchestrated by Torre.
“He made a funny comment that I don’t care to share,” Girardi said. “But it got a chuckle out of me.”
From that moment on, it was about the game. It was about CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera, with Torre being little more than a background character.
“You have to think about the game,” Jorge Posada said. “Try to think about how you’re going to get the guys out. I didn’t want to look over there.”
Associated Press photo of Girardi and Torre exchanging lineup cards.
After Joe Torre answered two questions about the Dodgers this afternoon, a Los Angeles reporter looked at the group of writers huddled in the dugout and said, “It looks like you have some old friends here.”
“Who told you that?” Torre said. “Them?”
The Yankees are playing in northern Los Angeles tomorrow, but tonight most of the Yankees beat writers are in Anaheim. Early morning flights from Phoenix, early afternoons spent stuck in L.A. traffic and finally a few minutes with Torre, who began quickly joking with the reporters he knew so well in New York.
“The odd thing for me is I’m going to be over there in that dugout pulling against people I’ve never pulled against before,” he said. “That’s the weird part. I’m sure the competitiveness comes out and you probably won’t think about it as much then as I am now.”
Torre said he ate lunch today with Yankees trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue, and with Yankees clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza. “Some of my old gang,” he said. He expects tomorrow to be emotional for him, at least until the game starts.
“Considering that while I was there we eliminated all of their weaknesses, I’m sorry I did that now,” he joked.
Here’s the audio for most of the interview, 11 minutes or so. Torre talked quite a bit about the book, his relationship with the front office and the impact of moving to Los Angeles.
“The thing that gets me is last year, I’m watching the World Series, and not one minute did I wish I was in the dugout to be honest with you,” he said. “It was great and I did it a lot of times, but that was enough.”
“It’s just out of respect” • 06.24.10
Within the Yankees fan base, opinions of Joe Torre have changed in the past few years. He didn’t leave the organization on good terms, then he co-wrote the book and now he’s seen in some corners as a traitor.
But for the players most closely associated with him, Torre seems to be the same. Before last night’s game, Derek Jeter said he had already talked to Torre once that day. Of course, as he always does, Jeter called his old manager Mr. Torre.
“I was 21 when I came up,” Jeter said. “It’s out of respect. Not saying I don’t have respect for you guys if I don’t call you mister, (but) he’s been like a father figure to me. It’s just out of respect.”
What do the Core Four and Torre’s replacement remember about him?
“The way he treated me. Not only me getting a chance to play. Obviously I’m going to thank him forever, and the organization, but the way he treated me was really special. I will always remember that.”
“He’s like a father figure. He was not only my manager, he was just somebody that you could talk to. Not about baseball, just talk to him about life. At a very young age he was always there. You all know how much he supported me, through the good times and the bad times. When I struggled, he stood for me. They wanted to trade me, and he put his neck on the line for me. That obviously means an awful lot to me.”
“Joe was more than a friend. He was a mentor. I would say, a guy that always was there, giving me the best advice that he can give. Always supporting me. I remember 97, my first year as a closer. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning. He said, ‘Don’t worry about what you do. As long as I’m here, you will be my closer.’”
“I learned a lot from the way he handles people, the way he deals with people. I’ve said it before about, people always say you treat everyone the same. You don’t treat everyone the same. You treat everyone fairly. I think he was pretty good at that.”
“I was his bench coach and he allowed me to do a lot of things as a bench coach. He allowed me to manage the game and make whatever suggestion I wanted. For that I’m forever grateful. It was his job to decide how many good ideas I had, but there were open lines of communication and he allowed me to say whatever I was thinking. It was great.”
Here’s the audio from Jeter.
And from Rivera.
Associated Press photo
Some evening potpourri • 03.10.10
• I’ve never quite understood the whole “sign a one-day contract and then retire” thing but that’s what Nomar Garciaparra did today and, according to Johnny Damon, it was a “classy move” by both the Red Sox and Garciaparra. Apparently the wounds from 2004 have healed and, now that he’s retired, we’ll all be seeing Nomar again on ESPN.
When some of us asked Damon which team he would do such a thing with when it came time to retire, he went quiet for a second, then shrugged and said, “I guess my longest tenure is with the Royals – and I haven’t played there in 10 years!”
Amazingly, he’s right – six years in KC, two in Oakland, four in Boston and now four in New York for the well-traveled Johnny.
• Torii Hunter is one of my favorite players – both to watch play and interview – and his overall point about African-American players in baseball is a reasonable one to bring up. It just didn’t come out particularly well, as you can see in this story, and even Hunter knows it.
• Joe Torre is off in Taiwan with part of the Dodgers team so Don Mattingly is the interim manager in Arizona. In an interview this afternoon, Donnie Baseball revealed that the Dodgers have talked with him about eventually becoming Torre’s replacement. Remember when the Yankees were choosing between Mattingly and Joe Girardi? Seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it?
• Unfortunate situation involving the Rays pitcher David Price today. Seems he was hit on the hand by a shattered maple bat, though he was lucky and will escape needing stitches. “It was more of a scare than anything else,” Price said, according to The AP. “I don’t really remember what happened, to be honest. Tried to make a play on the ball and I guess out of the corner of my eye I saw the bat and just threw my hands up. Could have been a lot worse than what it is right now.”
Joe Maddon said what a lot of people around the game are thinking, likening the maple bat to the Claymore Mine, which was an explosive in use since World War II. Maple bats have shown an incredible propensity toward shattering, and their shards are very, very dangerous. “If we’re going to wait for someone to actually get killed or impaled,” Maddon said, “we’re going to wait way too long. Something has to be done.”
• Finally, Major League Baseball announced PED suspensions for several minor leaguers, including two from the Yankees Dominican Summer League team. Josue Rodriguez and Israel Tolentino will both serve 50-game bans for testing positive.
That’s it for tonight. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on a long day. Back at it tomorrow, though the clubhouse won’t open until around 1:30 p.m. because it’s a night game. Check in early and often, though, for a few other items before we get to Yankees-Braves.