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November 3, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Joe, why is the 27th out so different from every other out, and what makes Rivera so able to get it?

JOE TORRE: I think practice. He went through '97 as our closer and he had a tough time doing it, he really did. And, you know, during the '96 season, he had the safety net, if something went wrong and he had John Wetteland coming in. The thing about being the closer is you know there's no one behind you. So it's like moving from the infield to the outfield; if the ball goes through the shortstop's legs, you have the left fielder there. If it goes through the left fielder's legs, you have to chase it yourself. To me, it's a whole different mindset. This has changed over the years. Starters used to start and they used to finish, and they would come in when they got tired and you had a closer that pitched three innings and then you had a closer that pitched two innings and you had a couple of different setup men. But it seems that last inning, those last few outs are the toughest ones to get, there's no question. And it's just the finality of the game and it takes conditioning to be able to do it, and with nobody out there, they expect the game to end because there's just one or two outs together.

Q. Are you a believer that if a team wins a world championship, it deserves to come back next year intact to defend a championship?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's not going to happen. Since I've been here, I had never been to a World Series before '96 and I learned -- not that we lost him we knew where he was, but we lost the World Series MVP that year, John Wetteland. But again, it was time for, after Rivera had pitched two innings and set him up to give him an opportunity. I think it's just the nature of the game anywhere with free agency and people coming through the Minor Leagues and the player development that you feel that you have to make some changes, so we have lost significant people every year, probably not as many as we could potentially lose this year, but as many times as the manager would like to say, "Let's try it with the same group," I think that's an emotional statement. You know, I probably have been guilty of it, maybe not publically, but I'm sure I feel that way when you do win.

Q. For games 6 and 7, (Inaudible)?

JOE TORRE: You know, I don't think it matters; what matters is how they get the job done. I know Clemens tried to be more calm when he first came over here and it didn't match what he needed to do to be successful, and it took a little time to talk him into going ahead and be animated. Pettitte, I would not say he's calm, but outwardly he may look that way. I think everybody is driven in a different way, so, I think the only common thing you need to have is be able to focus and hold that focus and keep it together until things start going wrong and I think that's important and I think that's what good pitchers are able to do.

Q. In your mind is Bernie struggling through this World Series and when he does struggle, how subtle are the differences?

JOE TORRE: He's probably the most unpredictable of all of the players I've ever managed, where he could look as bad as he's looked, and all of the sudden, turn it up and hit a home run or get a key hit. I think it was against Aaron Sele when he had strike one, strike two, it looked like he was way behind the ball and he winds up hitting a two-run home run. That's Bernie. I think because he's not blessed with the instincts that a lot of other players have, he works harder at it. When he prepares, it sort of gets in the way of his own ability. I talk to him constantly and what I try to do more than anything is distract him from all of the preparation he puts together because I think sometimes, you know, he just tries to -- he tries to make it too perfect. But again, I never hesitate as far as batting him second, third, fourth or fifth or something in the middle of a lineup because at any time he could be the guy we all know that he can be.

Q. Because of the way you've won series and games this post-season, do you have any different feeling about this team than some of your other teams?

JOE TORRE: Well, this team has been challenged, I think, more than any other team. You know, the '96 team, we were challenged in the Division Series and then again in the World Series. But this team, I think, has been challenged all year with guys that have had less than good years. Like Knoblauch is a better hitter than a .250 hitter, Justice, Paul O'Neill has had some injuries; he started out real well for us and Jeter was down. I think we have been challenged more than the other clubs that I've had. They have been very motivated. Whether it was the fact that, you know, in spite of what our personnel are, we're basically, dig down and go get it and been lucky. The two home runs we hit, you know, Tino's home run Scotty's home run, we got a pitch to hit and we hit them both; how many times do you see the ball fouled back or whatever and we didn't do it. There's a little luck involved. What helped us is they go up there looking for a pitch to hit and they got it and they didn't miss it. But I think this club, going back to it, is probably even more challenged than the other teams that I've managed here in the last six years.

Q. How does the prospect of a Game 7 influence the way you might use your bullpen tonight?

JOE TORRE: We're going to try to win this game tonight. There's no question. We don't want to think of a Game 7. Roger Clemens is probably the only one, and Mussina, that are not available to us tonight. We will do whatever it takes to try to win this game tonight because you never know what's going to happen, if there is another game and if you're in a position to win it, we certainly want to not have to save anybody. I'm not thinking that way.

Q. Do you want them to think in terms of this being Game 7 tonight or do you want them to relax, since they do have a bit of a cushion?

JOE TORRE: No, they seem to do well with pressure. This is our Game 7. Hopefully we are right, that it is. Again, we go back to momentum switches very quickly, in short series, and the team that wins the last game seems to have that slight edge. Now we are on the road facing a 20-game winner who is a monster. He's tough. He's an intimidator and he shut us down completely last time and we don't want to think in terms of saying we only have to win one out of the next two and stuff like that, because I think that leaves -- that leaves you in a compromising position. This is our Game 7; I don't think they have to be told that.

Q. What has made this team so successful, whether in the playoffs or World Series, about closing a team out whenever they have had the opportunity?

JOE TORRE: I think a big part of it has been experience because we know how quickly things can switch. We left here a week ago and we had to win four out of the next five games. If you start thinking in terms of having to do that, you get a little overwhelmed. But I think the fact that we have gone through series in the past helps us focus in on one game at a time. I know it sounds simplistic, and it is, basically because you can only control what you control today, and that's the way we try to think. We have been pretty good at it, and the reason is that it seems to have worked for us. I think the experience of past post-season games have helped us.

Q. Has Clemens developed into a great post-season pitcher, or do you think that the perception of him before he joined the Yankees was an unfair one?

JOE TORRE: Well, he was in a position to win Game 6 in 1986 and he came out of the game with a lead, and unfortunately for the Red Sox and fortunately for the Mets, they didn't hold onto that lead and he never got another chance, in the World Series, until he came to us. He's been in the post-season since then. Has he developed? You know, I don't know the answer to that. To me, the last game he pitched was a huge game. We were down two games to nothing and I told him at that point, "You'll never have to defend yourself again." It seems that maybe people make some associations on how many games he's won and how many Cy Youngs, but, you know, what has he done in the World Series. It's tough. The World Series is tough because it's one game that lasts forever, and how you do in that particular game, just like the Super Bowl with John Elway, he won Super Bowls -- he's won so many times, he never won a big game. It's not really an indication of what the person is all about, and I feel that, you know, Roger, there have been a lot of doubts about Roger's ability to do certain things. In Game 2 last year was the coming-of-age for me in the World Series. I know he pitched Game 4 against the Braves and pitched very well. The Game 2, last year, again was overshadowed by the incident with the bat and I don't think he got enough credit for the game, as opposed to blame for the bat. This game, I was happy with the way he pitched Game 3 because I think if you want to say "developed into it," that was it.

Q. I know you have a lot of things to focus on tonight, but does part of you look around the clubhouse and say "This could be the last time I ever manage a few of these guys who have been a big part of my life"?

JOE TORRE: No. I don't allow that to happen. Hopefully, we'll be able to reminisce after tonight. We are so focused on what we are trying to do that it's tough to allow that to get into my mind. Again, I am trying to stay out of the way. I'm not having any meeting. I mean if I have to tell these players where we are and what's at stake, then I have the wrong team in there. I think I appreciated what happened at Yankee Stadium the other night. You know, we're down at in the ballgame and people were chattering and cheering Paul O'Neill. In spite of not wanting to own up to it, I think he was affected a great deal by it. He finally reluctantly took his cap off when he got into the dugout. No, I have not gotten into that. As I say, I'm trying to stay away from that.

Q. What defines a classic World Series to you, and as a baseball fan, which are the ones that have really stood out over the years to you?

JOE TORRE: Understandably, last year with the Subway Series. That was an enormously pressurized World Series because we're -- I imagined both teams and how important it was to win a Mayor's Trophy Game, so you can understand what a World Series was all about. So I would say that this World Series, with the pitching -- to me, this is more what baseball is about, pitching dominance, trying to do little things to help win games, catches. Stuff like this is lost, I think in high-scoring games where little plays or little managerial decisions, baserunning decisions, should really be the focus of the attention, basically. So I think this has been a classic because of -- I mean, look at the pitchers that have been in this thing, Schilling and Randy and Mussina and Clemens and Pettitte and El Duque and the kid, Batista, who shut us down as well as anybody. This has been some classic stuff going on, and to have Mariano Rivera, who I don't remember anybody that does it like he does it, and since I've been so pitching-oriented since Rube Walker taught me early on in my managerial career when we traded Seaver, Matlack, and he started shaking his head and saying, "You need pitchers to win" and that lesson stuck with me and I think for that reason, this World Series has been very tense, very pressurized because you realize how things are so important.

End of FastScripts....

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