If you go by the accounts reported in the local papers this weekend, Joe Torre is preparing to release a tell-all book next week in which he rips everyone from Brian Cashman to Alex Rodriguez and pretty much tarnishes the reputation he built after twelve years as Yankees manager. (In a Daily News online poll, 48 percent of respondents said that yes, the book tarnishes Torre’s Yankee legacy, while, hilariously, only 17 percent said “I’ll have to read the book.”) But is he really a 21st-century Jim Bouton, or could it be that the excerpts in question are being blown a little out of proportion?
First, there’s the matter of what’s actually said — much of which isn’t that shocking. For example, would you believe that the Carl Pavano signing is symbolic of their losing ways of the past few years? Or that George Steinbrenner’s health is failing? And whatever he says about Brian Cashman not standing up for him in 2007 can’t be too terrible: They’ve already kissed and made up. (It’s also not exactly a secret that Torre left the Yankees on terrible terms.)
Which brings us, as is so often the case, to A-Rod. Torre’s strongest criticism is that Rodriguez “monopolized all the attention,” which is probably true, but that’s going to happen when you bring in the best and highest-paid player in baseball to the sport’s biggest market. (A-Rod never exactly had the option of being an under-the-radar Scott Brosius type.) As for saying that teammates referred to him as “A-Fraud,” that’s just Torre relaying information, though it is indicative of his never-great relationship with A-Rod that he’d be willing to offer that up.
There’s also talk about Rodriguez being obsessed with Derek Jeter. But as Tom Verducci, the book’s co-author points out, it’s not a first-person memoir, but a book that extensively quotes Torre, as well as others, and should be taken in context (something most of us can’t do until it’s released). So, for example, it’s former bullpen catcher Mike Borzello who talks of having to boost A-Rod’s ego because he felt he was competing with Jeter for attention. More than anything, the book looks like it’ll confirm something we pretty much already knew: Jeter and A-Rod aren’t BFFs.
In fact, our favorite anecdote from the book so far is this: Bernie Williams once left his son at the stadium after a night game and had to call Andy Pettitte to drive him home. (On the other end of the comedy spectrum, the fact that team doctors told Steinbrenner of Torre's prostate cancer before telling Torre is pretty awful.) But if there’s not going to be any truly explosive name-calling or finger-pointing, we hope that at least there are a lot more little details like that.