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October 12, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Joe, do you have any line-up changes that you're planning.

JOE TORRE: I'm still going over that in my own mind. I don't have to put one out until tomorrow, and I'm going to take all the time I can, because obviously last night was a late night and emotionally you may want to do certain things, but I want to think it through a little bit?

Q. The players have all said that their mood hasn't changed, what's your mood now.

JOE TORRE: Well, the same. The thing, if you try to get too involved in the old cliches of you're back against the wall, you can't afford to lose, have you to win all the games, it gets a little awesome. But if you think in terms of going out and winning a game, trying to change the momentum of the series, then it's a little more doable. Because if you look beyond tomorrow, and I know it's trite because you hear it all the time, you can't do anything about the day after tomorrow. And we really have to go out there and not be afraid to make mistakes. That's one thing, we can't go out and worry about what it looks like. We have to go out there and play the game that we're capable of playing, and hope it's good enough. We're playing a good team. The fact that we're down 0-2, that surprises us, because we think a lot of ourselves. But it's not surprising to see the Oakland club play the way they played?

Q. Can you draw anything from '96 when you came back from 0-2.

JOE TORRE: Well, that's what you look at. You look at past history of your ballclub in certain situations when you've had to win ballgames. And '96 certainly is one of those times. I was asked that last night or early this morning, about the similarities there. And I said that was a 7-game series, but still it doesn't change the fact that you have to go out and win three games. And that's what we were able to do. And we left home going to Atlanta, going down there to face I think it was Glavine and Neagle and Smoltz, and we managed to come back with a 3-2 lead. Anything you can grab onto right now, to let you know that in spite of losing, you really cannot stop thinking good things about yourself. And I think that's important?

Q. Last night you said that you were going to take a look at Justice and O'Neill and make an assessment, and Justice seemed to be snapping out of it a little bit, and O'Neill still seems to be struggling.

JOE TORRE: Yeah, Paul is feeling for it right now, there's no question. And David, even though he's given signs of coming out of it from time to time, he's never been able to sustain it. But that's what I'm wrestling with right now, that there's no question that I do have a loyalty to people and players. But again my first loyalty is to the team, and so I really have to evaluate, chew it up, swallow it and figure out which line-up I want to put out there I think gives us our best chances tomorrow?

Q. Is that what makes it much harder, because of your loyalties.

JOE TORRE: No, not necessarily. My loyalty first is to each player not individually, but I think to the team. It would be unfair to the team for me to do something because I didn't wanted to hurt somebody's feelings or this guy did it for me five years ago and stuff. No, I have to still think in terms of what's best for the team, that's my thought process. I never thought I'd be able to sustain myself in this managing career, because you have to release people that you like and sign people that you don't like. But you realize when you look at the big picture of what's best for your team, in all honesty you never hesitate doing that?

Q. Joe, how did getting on the plane last night compare with when you had to come out here last year for the fifth game.

JOE TORRE: That's a good question. Last year I think was tougher, because we had a 2-1 lead and Roger Clemens just lost, and he had pitched on three days rest, and we were sending Pettitte out with three days rest, and it was a little antsy. Last night, we got our rear ends kicked, and the bad part about it is you had the game pitch that you needed to have pitched and you still lost. So it was more that -- it's nothing we didn't do, it's just something that they did to us, and we have to figure a way to change it. But I don't think it was as tiring, because I think we were more physically exhausted last year at this time than we are right now. I think of what everybody's gone through since the tragedy. We've all shared in that terrible mental fatigue, but last night I didn't think had the same drama that last year did?

Q. With all the playoff games, experience combined, is there still a need for the leader of the team at some point -- maybe you did that already -- saying we can do this, we can have a three-game winning streak as well as Oakland is playing.

JOE TORRE: Yeah, but I had the meeting, instead (laughter.) Just kidding. Yeah, I wanted to have the meeting today only because tomorrow I just want them to play baseball. Basically what I'm telling you, you try to clear the air a little bit and not think about too many things. And the fact is that I don't feel that we played badly. We didn't hit, but I don't think we did anything wrong. It was just the fact that we couldn't hit, but, yeah, I had a short meeting. I told them to go out and enjoy dinner, come back here tomorrow and have fun and play some baseball. We're capable of playing baseball, and a team shouldn't be in postseason unless they're capable of winning three games in a row. But we can't think of it being such an enormous task that the astronomical odds of that happening monopolize your mind, I can't have that happening. So I try to explain it in a more simple way, which is easy for me to do?

Q. Joe, last year when things might have looked a little bleak, I think you told your players that if you're going to lose your title, you make someone take it away from you. Do you want them to embrace that same thought now.

JOE TORRE: No question. We start in Spring Training that way. We're world champs. That doesn't cut us any slack for the season. We still have to go out and win our share of games and don't make it easy for somebody to take it away from you. It belongs to you until somebody takes it from you, and that's what you have to make happen. You can't live on what you did last year, because it doesn't get you anywhere. But for sure you want to make sure that you don't give anything away. You want to make them beat you?

Q. There seems to be a message on your hat. Is there a story behind that.

JOE TORRE: It ain't over until it's over. It's my Yogi hat, and I had it in my locker. It wasn't a plan. God forbid, I didn't want to make this a plan, I didn't have this -- as Yogi would say, I didn't want to have this hat be necessary. As I was packing my bag after the game, it was sitting up there with some golf hats, and I said this was appropriate. And I wanted to make sure I didn't disrespect what we've all been honoring, and that's all the rescue workers. So I had my patch from the Port Authority and my trusty clubhouse manager sewed it on for me today. So I'm wearing a hat and a patch. And Yogi is our good luck charm. We tried to talk him into coming on the plane with us, but he wouldn't buy it?

Q. As much as you knew that Oakland's pitchers were as good as they were, does it still impress you that they were able to do what they did.

JOE TORRE: No question. As you say, we respect what their abilities are, and again, somebody still has to pitch that game, and they've been able to do that. I think last year was a great learning experience for them. And we knew -- in fact early in the year I was on a radio show when they were stumbling, and we had swept them in New York, and they asked me which team do you think is going to be the one that's going to surface, because at that time Minnesota was doing well and Cleveland was trying to catch them. And I said to me it has to be Oakland as the team that's going to have the best chance to come back because you look at their young pitching, and that's the only thing that can make you consistent. That's what's made us a good team consistently, because we can pitch and get 27 outs, you can't freeze the ball in this game. But, yes, I have been impressed, and unfortunately not surprised that they've pitched as well under the stress that they are?

Q. Joe, have you spoken with Mussina since last night, and what has struck you most about Mussina this year?.

JOE TORRE: We came out on the bus this morning. He seems the same. He's got a very steady personality for me, and a level of efficiency and personality that I really enjoy, right from Spring Training, he's got this dry sense of humor that I have a lot of fun with. He takes a joke, he will crack a joke. Again, when it comes time to get on the mound he's very serious about what he does. And again, I'm confident that we'll have that kind of game that we'll be proud of tomorrow from him. We just need to help him.

Q. Derek Jeter said earlier that anything short of winning a World Series is a failure for the season. Do you agree with that?

JOE TORRE: Well, that's what we're here for. I'm not going to say I'm fortunate because I think it's something that drives you. There's no question when you're with the New York Yankees, when you hang so many banners as we have, during the great history of this ballclub, you know, there are certain things that are required. Getting to the World Series is the first thing. And of course when you're there you'd like to believe you can win it. But, sure, after winning three in a row, anything short of winning the World Series is -- I don't want to say failure because that's strong, but it would be a disappointment.

Q. In 1996 the owner of the Yankees told the media that you told him after being 0-2 you were going to come back and win three straight, anything similar happen this year?.

JOE TORRE: No, I haven't had a call, and I haven't called them. But that happened before Game 2, unfortunately. I said to him, what had happened, just to remind, and not bore you too much. We hadn't played for 8 days. We had won 3 out of 4 and then I think 4 out of 5 and then there was a rain out for the first game. So we had 8 days we hadn't played. And St. Louis had a 3-1 lead on Atlanta and came back and beat them, so they played right up to the end. We stunk. We were flat. We were everything else. Maddux was pitching the second game, and it's really tough to muster up a lot of confidence when your club and not playing well to face Maddux, and I said we may lose tonight, but we'll go to Atlanta and win three. I was punchy. And winning, sure, you wanted to win, but being there was a big thrill for me. So I was having fun with it.

Q. You have struggled obviously to score runs. Can you talk about the challenge of beating a guy like Zito that's been basically untouchable?

JOE TORRE: Barry Zito last year when I first saw him, he pitched against us early when he came up and very impressive, big kid, he's got that knee buckling curveball, make those left-handers think twice, and then has that fastball he can throw by. I was very impressed in pitching in Yankee Stadium how confident he seemed to be, and the only thing a year is going to do to him is make him better. Putting a smile on my face, just as an admirer of baseball, but how young their staff is and how efficient they've been. We have to go out there and beat them. But they're playing with a lot of confidence. Last year they played with a lot of confidence even though we beat them three games to two. And we admired them last year. We had a great deal of respect for them and we knew coming in this year that we were hoping that the home field would be an advantage to us early on, Yankee Stadium, and all the emotion that goes on there. But we really couldn't put any points on the board. And I think getting a lead is going to be very important for us tomorrow, because we haven't had one yet.

End of FastScripts....

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