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October 25, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. First congratulations on a great year and a great run for your team. In your mind, is this the end of an era for the Yankees?

JOE TORRE: You never know that. They have talks about it, end of an era when Paul O'Neill and Tino left and Brosius and Knoblauch. But we resurfaced again. We'll see. We'll see. We always managed to get the players that are capable of great things and, you know, I don't even want to think about next year right now, but it was a very disappointing ending. Andy pitched great. Josh Beckett was unbelievably great. And you know, they certainly deserve to be world champs.

Q. It's been a long season. Give us a couple of words on what you are feeling right now.

JOE TORRE: Just disappointment. I just went in and thanked my ballclub right after the game was over. It took us time to come together. But once we did, they realized, you know, how much they cared for each other. How they picked up for each other; very unselfish. For the most part, you know, once this thing did galvanize, you know, it's a lesson that even though you work hard, it's not always a fact that you are going to win. But I think you gain from it knowing when you reach down in there, what you are capable of doing. So it's disappointing. The fact that we didn't lose it, they won it, I think makes me feel good about the team because they played hard. They worked hard. They tried to stage rallies in this game, it didn't pan out. We did in games 4 and 5, fought our way back, and it wasn't enough. But the effort is what I have always based my opinion on. Whatever club I have managed, because I have played the game and I understand that even, you know, when you work hard, it doesn't always mean that you are going to be guaranteed a good result. So I always base it on how hard they work and how much they care, and as I said, I thanked them for those things.

Q. You guys won your sixth straight division title this year; 100 games, survived two rounds of Playoffs. Won the pennant again this year. Have you set the bar so high people maybe don't appreciate what is happened here?

JOE TORRE: I don't think I did. I think Babe Ruth did. The Yankees win all the championships, that's our goal, and this is very disappointing. I mean, consider you go back to 2001 when we went to Game 7 within three outs away from winning a World Series, and that was disappointing. So this is something that this kind of pressure is good, even though it is a lot to ask, the rewards are so great that you never question that or feel sorry for yourself. This is something that's a challenge and you'd like to believe everybody that puts on this uniform feels that respect and that challenge and sometimes when you see the great ones like Roger come over here and it takes him a little time to get adjusted knowing he's wearing a Yankee uniform. I think that's a tribute to the Yankees.

Q. You have seen a lot of teams. How good is this Florida team?

JOE TORRE: They do the little things you preach . I know everybody would like to have guys that hit balls out of the ballpark, and do all these things. But you can appreciate what it takes to win games when you watch what Josh Beckett did, when you watch what Castillo did on Nick Johnson's ball that took a hop and turns it into a double play. You can't replace pitching and defense. And I don't care what sport you are in, whether it's basketball, football, it's still a matter of being able to control the game and the way you do it is with pitching and defense. They do the little things very well. They don't know what intimidation is, not that anyone was trying to intimidate them. You just go out there and play as hard as you can and hope when you look up, you have more runs than the other team. You saw what they did with San Fran, a club that was in the World Series last year. And the Cubs, who, you know, had everything going their way with a 3-1 advantage, going home with a 3-2 advantage with their two best pitchers. They certainly have been tested all the way to the World Series and they didn't flinch.

Q. I am guessing you might be a little tempted to check Beckett's birth certificate to make sure he's 23. Talk about his performance.

JOE TORRE: 23, I can -- I believe. 19, 20, I can -- I believe. Cabrera is not bad either. He's a little younger. When you are that young, you don't know what fear is. What he did against the Cubs coming out of the bullpen and gave Jack the relief job, he did in Game 7. You know, this kid doesn't think of anything negative and it was -- I mean, it was a helluva lesson for us to learn firsthand, not that we expected anything less from them after watching and having our scouting reports. And let me say our scouting reports were terrific. I thought we pitched well. We just came up a little short. But there was everything that they did, our scouts Gene Michael, who is in charge of everything, and Wade Taylor and Chuck Cottier. They were right on top of everything. We just didn't do well enough.

Q. There's usually kind of a swing moment with any series. Would you think Game 4, 11th inning, bases loaded, then the 12th inning home run by Gonzalez was maybe the swing of this series?

JOE TORRE: When you think of things like that, that would naturally come to mind. But you certainly have to realize how tough that at-bat was for Booney, fouled off a number of pitches, and Looper just had a moving, riding fastball up and in. Made a hell of a pitch. These kids responded to the pressure all -- well, all postseason. I didn't see lot of them during the season, but that -- sure, we win that ballgame, and it's a 3-1 lead. Not that you take anything for granted because you just saw what they did to the Cubs. But you know, we go back to last year, we were playing Anaheim and we were like six outs away from winning Game 2 after winning Game 1. Things like that happen. That's why baseball is so unpredictable. You don't play it by the clock. You can't freeze the ball. You have to get 27 outs and every single one of those outs, especially the last five or six, are very tough to get.

Q. Just as a baseball lifer, what are your feelings for Jack today?

JOE TORRE: I told him, I said I thought it took me a long time to get there. I tried to -- I was waiting in the dugout to see if he was going to run out on the field. We didn't get that from -- his coaches did the same as my coaches have done, surround me and just embrace me and they did to him. He's experienced something now that took a lifetime for him to get to and I am happy for him. I am unhappy for us, even though we have experienced it before, it never gets old. But he's a good man. He had had some opportunities with different teams, but never really had a chance to, you know, get to the Promise Land. I am happy for him. It's all about -- a lot of attention gets to the players, but with players, you know, young players, experienced players, it's still takes the staff and I don't know what is going to happen with our staff. But I certainly could not have gotten this far in the eight years I have been here without the Willie Randolphs and the Mel Stottlemyres and the Don Zimmers. Lee Mazilli came after a little bit, Rich Monteleone. Rick Down, nobody works harder than he does. Gary Tuck did a great job with Jorge Posada. It's empty. I feel emptiness and he feels just -- he can't feel better than he feels right now and he probably won't be able to close his eyes for two or three days.

Q. Now that it's over, can you say this year did take the most toll on you out of every year because everything that went on and whether you have second thoughts about coming back?

JOE TORRE: The players and the competition, I am not tired of that. Dealing with you guys sometimes is a pain in the rear end, but I understand you have a job to do. Right now, I am just looking forward to being with my family and as I say, it's still electric for me still to get into that dugout and you are still excited. As long as that happens, you know, I don't think I can walk away from it. I know my wife would like to have me home, but she understands that she doesn't want me to do that if this is what I want to do. The players make it worthwhile. I have had great players here the eight years I have been here that really have a lot of respect and that's so important for me to know and to experience. But right now, I am not really looking forward to putting on a uniform in the spring, but I know it takes a little time to get through that.

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