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October 22, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe.

Q. Your interpretation of what happened in the first inning with the bat?

JOE TORRE: Well, what I saw: The bat shattered, and Roger picked it up and fired it to the dugout, toward the dugout. First of all, there's a lot of emotion in these games, obviously, between these two clubs since Roger last pitched against them. Mike looked like he didn't know where the ball was, and that's why he started running. Roger saw where the ball was. He didn't anticipate Roger -- I mean Mike running. He just threw the bat in our direction. Which I'm not saying he should have done, but I think a lot of it was emotional.

Q. Can you tell us what happened on the Knoblauch base-running thing?

JOE TORRE: Knoblauch -- which? Got thrown at the plate?

Q. Was Willie holding him?

JOE TORRE: I think Willie was bringing him, they were fumbling a ball on left center. When he did stop him, which you always bring them until the last minute, I think Knoblauch was probably looking down and didn't see him stop him.

Q. He sort of ran through a stop sign?

JOE TORRE: He did. But, again, Willie had him coming for the longest time. I think he was bent on -- he didn't see it, basically. He did run through a stop sign, but not knowingly.

Q. Would that be construed then as an error in judgment on Knoblauch's part?

JOE TORRE: Sure. You should always watch your third base coach until you pass him, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about Paul O'Neill, the range of struggling in September and not playing well early in the playoffs, pinch hitting for him. Now the last four games he's really played well.

JOE TORRE: Paul O'Neill, to me, is piecing it together. He's doing whatever he needs to do on a day-to-day basis. Even though he doesn't have the hip pointer problem, you know there's still some effects from that. You see, you watch him in the dugout, he's stretching a lot. So he's, right now, mixing and matching. He's doing a good job. It's not always pretty, but it's pretty effective. He's a tough kid.

Q. If you were in the other uniform, and the pitcher threw the ball, threw the broken bat at your player, what would your reaction have been?

JOE TORRE: I would have been angry, no question. But I think we have to ask one other question: Why would he throw it at him? I mean that, to me, is the simple question. Let's not take the fact that what happened, happened. But let's try to analyze it. And why would he throw it at him? So he could get thrown out of the game in the second game of the World Series? Does that make any sense to anybody? Somebody answer me. You guys ask me questions. Somebody answer my question. Why would he do it? Because he's angry with him?

Q. Yes.

JOE TORRE: That's reason? Because he's angry? Angry with him, so he screws 24 other people on his team?

Q. People don't get thrown out of World Series games.

JOE TORRE: He got thrown out of a World Series game in Oakland one day.

Q. Because he was angry?

JOE TORRE: Why would he do it? He's angry at Mike Piazza because he hit Mike Piazza in the head? Give me an answer to that one, too. Now, wouldn't Mike Piazza be mad at him instead? Why would he hit him in the head? Now, figure, throw a bat and hit him in the knee? I mean this, we completely disable this kid. Still haven't given me an answer.

Q. I have no answer.

JOE TORRE: That's right. You don't have an answer because there is no answer. It doesn't make sense. Should he have done it? No. But I think it was very emotional.

Q. I was just going to ask you about being up 2-0 and having El Duque going into Game 3. (Laughter.)

JOE TORRE: 2-0 wasn't as comfortable as it was an hour ago. The Mets showed you why they won. They just won't roll over and die. They're tough. But I'm glad the final result was 2-0. You feel when you're playing at home that you're supposed to win games. We almost squandered it; I'm glad we didn't. I'm glad it puts us in a good position, but not a guaranteed position.

Q. You asked the question about why he would throw the bat. Is it possible that Clemens, one of the pieces in his arsenal is he's an intimidating pitcher and tries to intimidate the batter? Okay, now, could it possibly be that this is part of an intimidation? Is it plausible?

JOE TORRE: No, it's not. Not throwing a bat. That's something you don't work on when you throw between starts. (Laughter.)

Q. That's true. But he's working on instinct.

JOE TORRE: Instinct? Pick up a bat and throw it at somebody?

Q. With all respect, I don't know if I like the idea of you saying this is some kind of a media creation. That's the feeling I'm getting sitting here. All I'm trying to ask as an individual, not as a meeting , I'm asking if he just blew his cool. You're attributing logic to this case. It has nothing to do with it. Is it possible the guy just lost his cool, and that's the simple explanation?

JOE TORRE: Let me ask you a question: What made him lose his cool?

Q. I'm not a psychologist.

JOE TORRE: Try to do it. I'm not either. Let's try to do this. Let's really investigate it.

Q. I was at the opening game in 1990. I have no explanation for that either.

JOE TORRE: This is emotional. This is the most important game of everybody's life.

Q. What I'm saying is somehow, this is going to turn into a thing where you're saying it's a media creation.

JOE TORRE: No, I didn't say that. All I'm saying is let's try to rationalize it.

Q. You said that about Piazza, playing the replay over and over.

JOE TORRE: That's right.

Q. What happened tonight was it was evidence, it was perfectly germane that they kept slowing the replay over and over.

JOE TORRE: Do you think a lot of people got very emotional from seeing the replay over and over? Can that be? Is that rational or irrational? You're not a psychologist?

Q. It was an element to the story they kept showing that. I'm not a psychologist either.

JOE TORRE: Thank you.

Q. It looked to me like the bat skipped off the ground. He caught it, the end of it could have done what it did to Steve --?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, well...

Q. He could have just been acting in fear, "Get it away from me."

JOE TORRE: I think it was emotional when he picked it up and threw it. He's pumped up to pitch the game. Did he know Mike Piazza was in the neighborhood? I don't think so. Until after he probably let it go and looked up. Because when you see the ball fouled, the hitter, if Mike had seen it, he probably wouldn't have run and it wouldn't have come close to him. As it turned out, it scared the hell out of me, too.

Q. Clearly, you are angry at the media. You are angry. You are clearly angry because you feel that by showing this replay over and over again it sounds to me like you feel that somehow we all contributed to the emotion that built into this game and into this moment. Is that because -- I just want to know what it is about this whole thing that has upset you?

JOE TORRE: Because nobody's adding common sense to this thing. I know how close you feel and your reaction to Mike Piazza getting hit in the head. Now we want to go back to that one before the bat incident. Throwing up-and-in to somebody -- Mike Piazza was surprised that the ball hit him in the head. We were, too. He's trying to move him off the plate. That's the way he pitches. That's the way Bob Gibson pitched. The way Early Winn pitched. The first week I came up in the Big Leagues, I got knocked down six times just to see how the kid (meaning himself) would handle it. There have been a number of other people that have been hit here the last two days, but there's been no accusations because you need to pitch inside. Now nobody wanted to hit anybody in the head. I'm not going to say least of all Mike Piazza; I mean nobody. Okay? The only thing, I had said earlier when we talked about showing the replay, I said, "I'm sure the two teams are going to act professionally." I'm sure there's emotion on the Mets' side because their player got hit. You're damn right, that would anger me, too. That's not going to interfere with what goes on in the ball game. My concern was what we're doing to the fans and what may come out of that. I'm not saying you caused what happened tonight. I'm saying that the danger of these New York fans, who are very emotional to begin with, to give them a reason to do something that we don't want to talk about.

Q. I'm clear on that. He threw the bat.

JOE TORRE: Excuse me? He threw the bat, and it was emotional. I haven't talked to Roger about it. I'm seeing him, and I'll tell you what I think. I did something that I was ashamed of one day as the manager of the Mets. There was a collision at home plate. I took a bat, slammed it, and broke the damn thing in half. I'm the manager of the Mets. Next day, I called Bill Robinson. I apologized. I stopped John Stearns tonight. He wanted to choke everybody, which is fine. I said to John, I said, "John, you played the game with a lot of emotion. Understand that. And that's what this is all about." I mean, all you people are here because this is the World Series. If you think that you go out there and you are robots and you throw the ball, you catch the ball, and that's what we do, you have to be emotional and you have to be passionate about this. Am I saying he should have picked up the bat and thrown it? No. I think it was an emotional thing. I think Roger will tell you that he was very surprised when he looked up that Piazza was where he was. Mike, as I say, I don't think he saw the ball. Just the way he ran, not knowing where the ball was, that's what you do, you run in case it's fair. If he knows it's foul, where the ball went, he doesn't move at all from home plate. Now if he doesn't move from home plate, and he threw the bat where he did -- now if he threw the bat at home plate, then I'd say, "Yeah, it was thrown at him."

End of FastScripts....

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