Joe Torre Answers Questions on "Larry King Live"

Kevin RozellSenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2009

(Zell's Pinstripe Blog)

I just watched Joe Torre on "Larry King Live," and I thought Joe put things in perspective. If you listen to what he says..it really seems like the media blew the book out of proportion.

He wasn’t really attacking anyone, but he wanted the readers to further understand what was really going on during those 12 years.

Doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, or it’s not interesting, but everyone jumped on Torre and started bashing him. I took notes on the interview, so those who missed it can see what Larry and Joe talked about.

CNN also had live blogging of the interview where people were submitting questions to Joe.

Here we go….

  • Tom Verducci and Joe decided to write this book two years ago. This was all decided before he left the Yankees organization. He wrote it to encompass the 12 years he spent in New York: both the good times and the bad.
  • The book tells people the changes that went on, how the Red Sox changed their style of business, and the steroid era.
  • He didn’t want to shock people with the book. He thinks that people will always resent some of the things said, but it’s the truth. Joe wanted to share his story and feelings during his tenure with the Yanks. He says that he wants his reputation to be honest, and that is exactly what the book is.

He was asked…

Why soil your own legacy?

Joe said he doesn’t think the book takes anything away from his legacy. If you keep it in context, you will appreciate the book. It was just an inside peek of what went on. He thought it added personality to the players, and helped the readers relive those golden years.

Did leaving the Yankees make you feel bitter?

He said he can’t look back on those years with the Yankees and be bitter. The years he spent with the club was wonderful.

Did you violate “the code”?

He really dodged this question. He went on to talk about Boomer, and how he felt about the comments he made. Joe said that David and he always had that sort of relationship. They respected each other professionally.

Joe asked him to come to his dinner, which honored the 1998 Yankees...and David responded by saying: I don’t like you, but I’ll go. Haha. That’s Boomer for ya.

  • Joe talks how Kevin Brown and David Wells drove him crazy. He said he didn't have anything against Brown, and that he actually liked him because he tried to do well. Torre said that Brown didn’t leave room for any mistakes and was hard on himself.
  • He then started to talk about A-Rod. He said that Alex is a special player, and that there is no other person more talented then him. Baseball is A-Rod’s life. He didn’t want Alex to be “the guy” all the time. He wanted Rodriguez to be himself. Fans were only interested in wins, while Alex wants records and statistics.

- Joe said that he puts a great deal of pressure on himself, and he tried to help him out.

- Alex didn’t have problems with teammates.

- Torre said that the A-Fraud thing was more of a joke...that was said right in front of him and not behind his back.

Did Rodriguez have a conflict with Jeter?

Joe said no. They weren’t best friends, but they acted like professionals.

What do you think of A-Rod’s divorce and Madonna?

The divorce surprises him. He also understands that he’s a lightning rod, and that gives him a great deal of attention.

Is Alex Rodriguez a minus to the Yankees?

Joe said no. He spoke about Alex coming into NY, and how everything he does draws attention.

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some other tidbits…

- He thinks the 2001 World Series was the greatest of all the ones he managed. With those three amazing nights..and especially since it was after 9/11.

- Joe gets along fine with Manny Ramirez. He described him as a fun-loving guy. He spoke about how Manny scared him to death when he was the manager of the Yankees. He hopes Ramirez returns to the Dodgers this upcoming season.

-Torre’s name is on top of Verducci’s because T goes before V. Haha

Think it will affect your players right now?

He said no.

Do you think you were burning any bridges?

No. He didn’t think there was any sensitive material in the book that he felt shouldn’t have been in there.

- Watching some of the World Series clips gave him goosebumps. He wanted to share those moments. Joe said that without the bad times...it wouldn’t be an honest book.

- His last year with the Yankees was very difficult. He said it was mutual and he needed to move on.

When did you last speak to Alex Rodriguez?

He hasn’t spoken to him since he left NY. He said that nothing in his book should make Alex angry.

You never got trust from the front office? That bothered you. Are you angry inside?

He said the front office didn’t trust him, but he isn’t angry inside. Joe said that Steinbrenner was always cracking the whip and he wanted to be in control.

He wasn’t able to enjoy what he did for very long, because Steinbrenner was always thinking about the next thing. Joe went on to say that it’s worth the price you have to pay. When you get an opportunity to win, you pay the price for it.

Did you feel betrayed when you left the Yankees?

No. What bothered him was that they gave him a one-year deal with incentives. He felt that it wouldn’t change anything, and the club thought it would make him a better manager. It wasn’t about the money, but the thought that he needed motivation bothered him.

Did you sign an agreement with the Dodgers since the book has come out?

No, he hasn’t. Torre says that this isn’t the first time this idea has come up. The Yankees have asked him before about not writing a book. He never agreed to anything. Torre likes to believe that it is only retracing his years with the Yankees.

Joe is shocked by the initial reaction, but he’s not upset. He thinks that once people read the book..people will further understand exactly what went on.

What did you say about Steinbrenner?

Joe said that George would be proud of things he said. Georgie was proud to be the boss. It wasn’t criticism, but he was just describing him. Torre said that George got him the players, and that he couldn’t have done it without him.

-Steinbrenner talked about giving out no bonuses to the coaches after the Yanks beat the Mets in the WS. After New Year's Eve…he called them and changed his mind. Joe said that Steinbrenner just wanted to get their attention..

What are your thoughts of a Yankees/Dodgers World Series?

He said it would be wonderful to play in a World Series again. He smiled at the idea of Manny facing the Yankees again.

Betrayed by Cashman not in the book, but was implicated…?

His perspective..doesn’t mean everyone will agree that that’s the case. Joe said that he had disagreements with Brian, and he didn’t have his support at the end. Torre said that Cashman “saved his bacon” a time or two.

He said that Cashman was ready for a change. Not just that..but Brian changed as well. Joe said he did things differently. His last year with the Yankees was the worst year of his 12-year tenure. He didn’t want to be asked everyday on his current status. 

Joe wanted a two-year contract, and he didn’t care about the terms. Torre said that if he was fired in the first year of the two-year contract, that he would be paid for both years.

He wanted one year to concentrate on baseball, but he couldn’t get the Yankees to agree with him.

-Joe gave Larry King a Dodgers cup. Larry than poured his drink into the new cup and drank from it. Haha

How do Dodgers fans compare to Yankees fans?

He said it is hard to duplicate what went on in NY, and that you could feel the heartbeat in the Bronx. He said Dodgers fans were Lukewarm in the beginning, but when they went on to beat the Cubs...they got very excited. Joe put Yankee Stadium in a class by itself.

Joe was asked if he would run for President?

He didn’t say no. Haha. He likes Obama. He thinks he is very bright, but people need to have patience.

Was the book purely monetary? Will money go to charity work?

Not monetary. They were both paid for writing the book.

Who is the most purely gifted athlete?

A-Rod. He said that Alex can do it all..hit for power, hits to the opposite field, plays great defense, etc.

What went on with Gary Sheffield?

He said that Sheffield was always a suspicious person and that he had mood swings. They had a good relationship, but he called him out once for not hustling. Joe said that he was treated fairly.

What did you know about steroids?

He said he never saw it..never talked or heard about it. Joe said he never went in a players locker and respected players' privacy. Joe said that everyone is to blame for the steroid era.

Did you speak to Giambi about steroids?

He said that they spoke around it. He was hesitant to approach him, but he wanted to make sure he was okay. He thought that he wasn’t the person who should be asking those questions, because they could have changed his livelihood. 

How are you doing, Joe?

He talks about overcoming prostate cancer. He was first diagnosed in 1999..and 10 years later..he is doing fine. He said that cancer is not something you cure, but you try and extend your life as much as you can.

-He like LA. His daughter was first upset about the move, but she made adjustments.

-He said he doesn’t think he said anything bad about Bobby Abreu in the book. Haha.

UPDATE: 12:31AMET: Here is a transcript of the Larry King interview

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Other reactions to Torre  /  Logistically, Yanks can’t sign Dunn or others?

Joe Torre book fills the winter vacuum  /  SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE!!!

SOFTBALL TOSSES FROM TORRE  /  The story behind The Yankee Years

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