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July 13, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. The A-Rod deal was tough for Soriano; can you talk about seeing him flourish with Texas and playing for a decent club now in Texas?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think it was a great trade for both clubs. I think it was a great trade for Sori, because, you know, I think the people in New York lost sight of how inexperienced he is, just a few years. And to put up like 39, 38 home runs and have a tough World Series last year, and everyone seemed to want to live there. So I think it was an opportunity for him to get out and he seems to have a smile on his face all the time. He's got a great talent. He's a great talent and he's a great young man and he wants to play every day. I think it's terrific. Of course, we came away with a pretty good ballplayer, too, but I think it's a great chance for him, as you said, to flourish.

Q. How tough was it to watch Roger in the first inning? I know you were glad to score the six runs, but you have a relationship with him, too; how tough was it?

JOE TORRE: It was a lot tougher to watch him give up runs when we wear the same uniform. (Laughter.) I was kidding all week about scoring five or six off him in the first inning, never dreaming it was ever possible. But you know when you play this game, you're playing against your blood brother, you want to win. I can understand the emotions. Roger's a very emotional person, and, you know, I'm sure he was run ragged all week. He's very proud and I just saw his mom on the way in the clubhouse; she came over to say hello to me. It's a tough week for him. He certainly wanted to shine for everybody, but I don't think the fact that he gave up six runs diminishes anything about Roger Clemens.

Q. Derek was saying, I asked him what he could attribute the continued AL success to and he said a good manager, meaning you. What do you put your finger on to explain the run you guys are on?

JOE TORRE: Well, I don't think the manager does a whole lot. I mean, the manager -- the game belongs to the players. These guys, we had a meeting before the game, and I just congratulated them. The last time I was here, the voting system was different. And I said, they should be even more proud making this All-Star Team because not only fans voted, but their peers voted. I think that means an awful lot, because I played at a time when players voted for the players, and it really means something. Not that being popular with the fans doesn't mean something, but I think sometimes the other players recognize things that other people don't. I mean, you come out the way we did tonight, we got some pretty good talent in there. I think that's more responsible than anything else. You're lucky. I mean, both teams are pretty equal. It's just a matter of who gets the jump and who can hold you off. If you looked at our club and their club, and of course Griffey wasn't there, and that was one less problem we had to deal with, but we stayed pretty aggressive tonight.

Q. Would you talk about the atmosphere in Houston last night for the Home Run Derby and then tonight with Roger starting the ballgame?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, it wasn't only here at the ballpark. Through the city I thought it was very electric. I had gone out to dinner a couple of different times. My wife and I went shopping today, and just the excitement throughout the city, I think was -- Houston should be very proud of of that. Of course the Home Run Derby with those 500 home run hitters, that's pretty special. I look out there and I played against most of those guys. I think it was a great show and it was an event here this week, and of course I'm happy we're on the winning end, but I think Houston should be very proud of the party they threw.

Q. Would you talk about being out on the field with Ali before the game?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's a treasure, a national treasure as far as I'm concerned. The man, sometimes when people are going through some physical problems, they tend to hide out, but I think he realizes how much good he does just showing up places. He was in our locker room yesterday, and everybody was trying to move him out just because they figured he had been there long enough and he should be tired. But he wouldn't leave until he signed every single autograph and took a picture with every single youngster or player. They were lined up out the door. As I say, he's a treasure. I don't know any other way to describe him. I had met him several occasions early on when he was still fighting, and he always stood pretty tall at that time, too. So, sure, it's sad to see how he's struggling, but he still represents well.

Q. Now that this is over, do you find any satisfaction now if you get to the World Series that you do have this home-field advantage?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, if you get to 6 and 7. You know, last year we couldn't get to 6 and 7. I mean, we got to 6, but down 3-2, it's a tough thing. It certainly helps when you get to go back home. We didn't take advantage of that last year. But again, when you get -- and again, I talked to Bud Selig before the game, and I think sometimes I say things and I don't see him right. The only thing I try to ever get across is that players who are competitive like these guys who come to an All-Star Game could play for matchsticks, and I think the fact that they are proud to wear a uniform, proud to be in front of everybody, they want to win. They want to win. They stay in the dugout, nobody leaves, they go change shirts, come back. I think that's a tribute and I'm proud of that. Because I played years ago, and a lot of times, you read a lot about how much players make and how selfish they are, but it's very rewarding for me to be around players that take tried in what they do. I've been lucky. I've managed the Yankees for nine years and I've had a good group. You get a stray once in awhile, but for the most part it's been a good group. The All-Star teams, when you have a meeting -- and, you know, this is a fun time. But when you have a meeting, you can hear a pin drop; that made me feel really good. I'm proud, and I told them I was proud to manage this club.

Q. Back to the voting procedure. You said before, probably way back in the Arizona series, you guys could have used another home game, considering all of that, do you think that managers and guys that coach clubs should have more of a say, less for the fans, more for the managers when it comes to voting for guys on these teams?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think we do over the last few years. This is the first time in the past -- before last year, each manager would make a list of ten pitchers and you'd pick the pitchers from that group. Now, because when Phyllis (Merhige) brings me the list of how the players vote, they put a lot of thought in this. There are some players, like we never saw -- you haven't seen the Cleveland Indians yet this year. And how they took time to vote for each team, each player that they have seen someone that's impressed them, I think that they are taking more of a role now in deciding the manager who is managing, I tell you, it's less of a hardship on me now because I don't have to pick or I don't get to pick a lot of players, and it's easier for me. So I don't mind that. But I think the fact that the players and all of the managers and all of the coaches are having a say, I think that's important.

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