Joe Torre Dodges His Own Words About A-Rod
They don’t call Joe Torre “Teflon Torre” for nothing. In his recent interviews with the New York media, the former New York Yankees skipper is managing to rewrite history. And he’s getting away with it, too, the way Torre once got away with claiming that he only batted Alex Rodriguez eighth in the playoffs to get Melky Cabrera some at-bats (Melky batted ninth in that game.)
And unlike A-Rod, who got pushed at least three times in one press opportunity this week to talk about his former manager, nobody in the media ever seems to ask Torre a followup question, or to challenge him on the facts. Stunning, I know.
This time around, Torre is playing the “who, me?” card, putting on a faux-shocked act over, among other things, Rodriguez’s curt dismissal of his upcoming reunion with his old nemesis as “business as usual.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers manager had the Yankees – and A-Rod – on his mind Thursday:
Torre said he was disappointed to hear that Rodriguez refused to talk about him. “I never had a problem with Alex,” Torre added. “I batted him eighth, so everyone thought he should have hated me….My conscience is certainly clear. At that time, Alex was struggling.”
So was the entire team. Yet A-Rod was the person Torre chose to scapegoat and humiliate by batting the superstar eighth. Incidentally, Torre never explained his decision to Rodriguez beforehand; he just posted the lineup and let the third baseman figure it out. Classy!
As for Torre’s “I never had a problem with Alex” line, that’s just laughable. A-Rod is the top villain in Torre and Tom Verducci’s book, “The Yankee Years.” Torre sniped in the book about everything Rodriguez ever did – from his wardrobe, to his personality, to him getting a clubbie to bring him coffee. The manager wrote in the book that Rodriguez, who won two MVPs in the Torre Years, “monopolized all the attention” and was not able to “concern himself with getting the job done,” being more concerned with “how it looks.” Funny that the manager known in later years for being more concerned with looking classy than with winning championships would say such a thing.
Here are some of the other passages about A-Rod in the book. Remember this tidbit?
“Back in 2004, at first Rodriguez did his best to try and fit into the Yankee culture — his cloying, B Grade actor best,” the book says, according to an excerpt obtained by 1050 ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand. “He slathered on the polish. People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel were calling him ‘A-Fraud’ behind his back.”
Or how about this one?
“Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself.”
Or this one?
“In his own way, Rodriguez was fascinated with [Derek] Jeter, as if trying to figure out what it was about Jeter that could have bought him so much goodwill. The inside joke in the clubhouse was that Rodriguez’ pre-occupation with Jeter recalled the 1992 film, ‘Single White Female,’ in which a woman becomes obsessed with her roommate to the point of dressing like her.”
Torre also disingenuously told the media Thursday that:
“Anything that was in that book that came from me was certainly out in the press before he read it in that book. It was out in public.”
Really, Joe? You mean the book’s claim that Yankee teammates called Torre “A-Fraud” and “Single White Female” was common knowledge? Then why did your publisher give you a $2 million advance for old stories? Maybe they should start calling you “J-Fraud” for being such a gold-plated phony.
In case you don’t buy that excuse, Torre seems to suggest that his co-author should be blamed:
“What Tom (Verducci, his co-author) did, he was on his own. That was fair play for me. I told Tommy, whatever he gets, he gets. … I don’t feel that I violated anything with Alex. I’m sorry he feels that I did if he does feel that way.”
Nobody in the media apparently saw fit to ask Torre why, if he really “didn’t think [he] had a bad relationship with Alex at all, why he would tell his co-author that “whatever [A-Rod] gets, he gets.” Or why the Four Rings guys and even players like Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina were interviewed for the book to give their side of the story, while neither Verducci nor Torre made an attempt to talk to Rodriguez. Guess that’s more of Torre’s “fair play” at work.
Besides, anything Verducci’s “reporting” found out was supported – and most likely directed – by Torre. And the manager, not Verducci, is the person who violated clubhouse confidences to sell a book. For Torre to absolve himself of responsibility for the words in his own book is ridiculous.
Torre also told reporters Thursday:
“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.
That makes two of us, Joe.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons
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