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Friday, January 30, 2009

Say it ain't so, Joe!

By collaborating with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci on a book about his tenure with the Yankees, Joe Torre apparently proves what is self-evident but, which deep down, we did not want to believe -- that he's as human and every bit as flawed as the next guy.

He's certainly no Saint Joseph, and he probably never thought he was or pretended to be. Still, his image was one of the cool, collected fied general, a leader who kept his emotions in check, managed in a measured fashion, and was above the pettiness that characterizes many elite athletes. That's what I thought -- great manager, good leader, good guy.

And he probably still is all of those things. Writing the book doesn't make Torre a bad guy, but writing what he did might mean that he did a wrong thing.

Because Joe Torre talked out of school, threw people on his team and in his organization under the bus, and, really, for what purpose?

Most of us know that Hank Steinbrenner and the Yankee brain trust treated Torre poorly when the Bombers offered Torre a one-year deal. Most of us know that Randy Johnson seems to be a jerk, that Carl Pavano was a big disappointment, that David Wells had to be high maintenance, and we could have guessed that Torre didn't always see eye to eye with Brian Cashman, the team's general manager, because there are usually points of conflict between the manager and front office over player personnel decisions. So, why write the book?

Mike Francesa of WFAN in New York asked the same question on his show yesterday. Torre has made a bundle through contracts and promotions, so why do this? Why speak out of school? Why be so publicly critical? Why tarnish your image, Joe, because many fans are viewing this book not (only) as a reflection on the people you criticized, but also of you. And that doesn't make you look good -- because it appears that you come off much less lofty that your prior image would have suggested.

I look forward to reading the book (when I get it on an overrun or at a used book sale), because Verducci writes well and Torre is a figure of interest. But I still don't get it, at all.

Because in writing the book it appears you proved you're not much different from everyone else.

And it hurts because your fans thought you were above all that.


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