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October 21, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe Torre.

Q. Can you go back to your feelings before your first World Series game in '96 and relate them to what Bobby is probably feeling for his first game right now?

JOE TORRE: I think I was so exhausted from the first two series that I was very -- I was jumpy. I was very jumpy. But the thing is, getting here is so tough that there's a certain amount of relief and relaxation, at least for the first game. Of course, once you go through it and you realize you're running out of games and you have to win four, it becomes a little more tense. But I think everything leading up to the first game gets you more anxious than the game itself. Everything leading up to the first game, my first World Series, we had seven days off. It was supposed to be six, and we got rained out of Game 1. There was a lot of anxiety. But I think once you get to the ballpark, it's a relief.

Q. You were here for Don Larsen's perfect game. You're one of the few actual New Yorkers on either of these New York teams. Does it mean something for the city, extraordinarily? Is this hype, or is there something real going on about all of the excitement of the first Subway Series since we were young?

JOE TORRE: Oh, it's real. The hype is allowed. I thought there was a little too much hype just for interleague games. That drove me nuts because, so you win four out of six, big deal. But it was something to brag about, I guess. This is something to brag about. This is great for the city; it really is. All the things that you would think about an interleague -- I mean about two teams in one city going to the World Series, it's phenomenal, to me. Being a kid brought up in Brooklyn, again, I was spoiled because we always had the Dodgers and the Yankees or the Giants and the Yankees or the Giants and somebody, Dodgers and somebody. It was something that was a part of the fabric of growing up. But this is, for 40 years ago, having that Don Larsen game, but to have two teams -- I know, I've been on both sides. I've been on both sides just playing the Mayor's Trophy Game and knowing how important it was for the Yankees to beat the Mets and vice versa, to have this thing mean so much. I used to snicker at those games because it didn't mean anything. But this is exciting. I think the city, being as excited as they are right now, it is supposed to be this game.

Q. Maybe a bit of a follow-up on this, your mood right now? We're a couple hours away. It's not a new experience for you being in the World Series. But being against the Mets, what's going through your mind right now?

JOE TORRE: Well, I'm more relaxed now than I've been for a couple days. I've been home. My wife's one of 16 children. 12 of her brothers and sisters are coming in this week. The phone ringing; I'm picking up the phone; they're asking me what the hell I'm doing answering the phone. That stuff, and having people say, "You're gonna be all right; you're gonna win," you don't want to hear that. Being here, being around the players, you're around the environment that's going to help you relax. I feel good being around here.

Q. Does there come a point in the first game of the World Series when you stop thinking about the stuff that came before and it just becomes a baseball game? Will you stop thinking about the World Series?

JOE TORRE: I think first pitch, it has to be a baseball game. If you try to do something other than manage a game, just because you're trying to beat a team for the bragging rights, then you get distracted, and you can't allow that to happen. Again, as I say, going into it, you're thinking about a lot of things. Once the game starts, I trust it's going to be that way. You really have to experience it to know for sure, but it becomes a baseball game. As I say, you're surrounded by people who you're surrounded by all year long. And it's -- of course, your patience level isn't what it would be in a normal game during the course of the year because there's only seven games left of the season and you need to win every one of them.

Q. Last week after Clemens pitched against the Mariners and both Piniella and A-Rod expressed frustration, one of the things you said was, "Don't get me wrong, he was on the other side and used to get me frustrated too." Now that you've seen him, how big a part of his success is the intimidation?

JOE TORRE: The main part of his success is his being able to pitch. I go back to my experience with Bob Gibson. I could probably relate a Roger Clemens to Bob Gibson. I played on the same team with Gibson in the All-Star Game. He never talked to me. He'd knock you on your rear end any time you wanted. You didn't like him very much. All of a sudden, you become a teammate. You realize you'd rather have him on your side because that's part of the package. Not that he'd try to hit you. He's going to throw close to you to keep you from going out and hitting that outside pitch. Game's changed a bit. We don't do that a lot anymore. The hitting technique is different where more guys are getting thrown close to, because there's a lot more diving going on. I mean Jeter's one of those guys. He dives across, he gets hit, he gets knocked back. But it's more technique change, I think, that it looks sometimes worse than it really is. It's unfortunate what happened to Mike, there's no question. But I don't believe -- surrounding the circumstances, other than the fact that he was successful against Roger, the circumstances didn't call for it. We had just beaten them two games in a row.

Q. Do you think it's possible that there might be a little bit more at stake here for the Mets? Not only if they win, they get the World Championship, but they can put a dent in that great Yankee tradition?

JOE TORRE: I think they want to win because that would make them the best team in baseball this year. Having a dent in the Yankee tradition is more of a distraction than -- that means they're trying to beat us more than they'd be trying to beat somebody else. I think the fact that they would win and we're the team they're going to beat, probably when they look back on it, would give them more satisfaction, yes. But I think in going about managing or playing the game, it's really tough to do that, because I think you wind up getting away from your game.

Q. You're not wearing any of your World Series' rings. Is that normal for a game day? What's your philosophy on wearing rings of years past?

JOE TORRE: My little four-year-old usually picks the ring I should wear. I say, "Which one?" Five years ago, I never had one. Now I have a choice. That still blows my mind. I don't normally wear jewelry other than a watch, and this is for the old man's arthritis during the game. (Indicating bracelet on wrist.) I don't normally wear the jewelry.

Q. How great was the temptation to play Knoblauch in the field and get one of the right-handed sluggers in the middle of the line-up?

JOE TORRE: I was a little -- I was thinking about it. I looked at matchups, and that's how Vizcaino wound up in the line-up. The numbers on Jose weren't good against Leiter. However, it's not fair to even say that, because there really weren't a lot of at-bats to judge on. I basically went this way because this is the game we've been playing, and we've been pretty successful. I'm not saying I wouldn't use Jose tomorrow. I usually wait until after the game's over and then try to figure in my mind, like I did after Game 1 in the Division Series and took Knoblauch out of there. But if I do happen to DH Jose tomorrow, Knoblauch would play second. But after thinking about it, and I did, I talked to Jose a couple days ago. This is the way I chose to go, and probably a big part of it was Vizcaino's 10-for-19.

Q. I know you don't care about the media second-guessing you. But with Clemens going in the second game rather than the first, do you open it up in your own mind for your own second-guess if it doesn't pan out the way you want it to?

JOE TORRE: No, not at all. We've never really gone away from the way we've been lined up. This was Andy's turn, and Roger falls in behind Andy. If we had to play Game 7 against Seattle, Roger would have pitched this first game. So I just didn't do anything, because I really -- it's tough to pick and choose with El Duque, Roger and Andy as far as who I'd rather pitch such-and-such.

End of FastScripts....

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