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October 23, 2000
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Workout Day
THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe.
Q. Before we get started on last night, tell us if you decided on a Game 4 pitcher, and
what the thinking is there?
JOE TORRE: I'm still thinking. I had both pitchers in today. To me, Game 4 belongs to
both of them, and I'm not sure which way I want to do it yet. I'm still talking with my
coaches and getting some ideas, and Mel Stottlemyre, and all that stuff. So as I said, I
talked to both of them and told them it was their game, I just wanted to see in which
order I wanted to do it.
Q. Can you remember a time where you've ever been as passionate in defending a player
over an incident like that? Did any of your players say anything to you about it after
JOE TORRE: I probably have been as passionate, but I didn't have the audience. I've
never been in the post-season -- probably not a lot of people listen to it. Nobody's said
anything. I really haven't seen a lot of my players since last night.
Q. A 14-game winning streak is unusual enough, even in a regular season. Can you put
into perspective what a 14-game winning streak is in a World Series?
JOE TORRE: I really can't. It's getting to that many World Series to begin with. But
for me, my childhood dream was just being in a World Series. Of course, as a player,
that's what you dream about as a child. Then to go through my whole career without getting
there, and then getting this surprise job that I'm in right now and finding myself there
four times in five years. It's really tough. The way you think about it, right now we have
a 2-0 lead. Everything takes on a life of its own. You look at it, and it can become a
little overwhelming when you think about all the teams you've played, and winning every
game. And sometimes you were leading, sometimes you weren't, but you always end up
winning, which is incredible to me if I allow myself to think about it.
Q. Over the last three or four years, one of the hallmarks of your Yankees teams have
been professionalism, and as you like to point out, playing the game the right way.
Regardless of whether you think this has been overblown or not, comments from the Mets
talking about "that's not how you play the game," does that detract from what
you've tried to build here?
JOE TORRE: Well, I can understand their comments. I mean, I'm not obviously criticizing
that, because if I'm on that side of the fence, I have my point of view in that regard. I
mean, I've had Derek Jeter at the wrong end of Roger Clemens, and got very angry, got
thrown out of a game one time fighting for that. When Roger Clemens first came over here
in '99, he wasn't the pitcher I remembered trading for. We had several conversations. And
what I got out of that was the fact that he was trying to fit in. I told him, "Don't
worry about fitting in. Just be what you are." Because I think pitchers sort of fall
into a separate category. They have to be self-motivated on how they can get the job done.
Now, throwing a bat at somebody is obviously not part of that. And it was the wrong thing
to do, and I still -- I'm convinced that he wasn't throwing it at him. But Roger took a
lot of criticism the early part of last year about why can't he win, he's through -- this,
that, and the other thing. He was characterized as sort of a wimp because he wasn't
challenging people and going after people. Then on the other side of the coin, now that
he's been successful, now he's getting criticized for the other thing. I'd still like to
believe that my ballclub responds professionally. Understand that Roger is wearing our
uniform, and we're going to go overboard to back him, not necessarily agreeing with
everything that happens, okay? But, again, it's like anything else - when you have
someone, the whole package is included. You can't pick and choose what part of it you like
and what part of it you don't like. The end result is that he is successful and he does --
the pitching aspect of it, he's going to push people off the plate. And that's part of his
success. The thing that happened last night, I mean, it's something that is unfortunate.
It really was. That's all I'm going to say. That's all I want to say about that part of
Q. I think you actually mentioned this. Did you see any replays, or did you
specifically avoid watching replays of the incident last night?
JOE TORRE: I saw it very clearly when it happened. I saw Roger, I saw the reaction, I
saw him throw the bat. And I said, "Oh, my God." Because as he was throwing the
bat, Mike came into my frame. But he, in picking the bat up and throwing it, he was
throwing it in our direction. Get-it-off-the-field type of thing. I have not changed my
perspective of the whole thing after trying to sleep on it.
Q. A few moments ago you were saying that Roger, when he first got here or Yankee
Stadium, got in trouble trying to fit in. He adjusted his approach, perhaps. Does he fit
JOE TORRE: I didn't want him to alter what he does as a competitor to fit in. As soon
as he puts on the uniform, he fits in with our ballclub. I mean, if you look back over the
years, there's been one thing or another that has followed this ballclub since I've been
here. It's Darryl Strawberry coming in in '96, and I didn't particularly want to sign him,
but that was the decision. And we brought him in, and once that happened, everybody
rallied around him. Hideki Irabu, the same thing. We made a rotation spot for him. He
never pitched in the Big Leagues. Everybody rallied around him, made excuses for him if
things didn't go well. That's the nature of this ballclub. I'm proud of that. You put on
this uniform, we're going to do this together. What I say about pitchers is they have to
be who they are. I mean, they're people that everybody works with that you may not go out
and have dinner with. But in order to get your job done, it's important that you all do it
together. And, again, not that I wouldn't have dinner with Roger Clemens. I enjoy Roger
Clemens. Bob Gibson, I keep going back to him -- he called me this morning. I had a
feeling what that's about. He said, "Stop dragging my name through this stuff."
(Laughter.) But I wouldn't go across the street to say hello to Bob Gibson. Now I hug him
and kiss him. When you wear the uniform, you become a different person sometimes.
Q. Mike Piazza said, and Bobby Valentine just endorsed it, of perhaps having Frank
Robinson look at this incident. As much as you want to put this behind you, how would you
react if there were further baseball investigation of this?
JOE TORRE: Well, I welcome that. I mean, I do. I talked to Frank Robinson this morning.
He asked me what I thought and what I saw and what I felt. I told him that, and he thanked
me for that. I understand that. I think to be thorough about it, that's probably the right
Q. Just wondering overnight if you could explain why you were so angry, annoyed last
night at the line of questioning?
JOE TORRE: Probably the same reason I picked up that bat and smashed it when we had
that collision at home plate when I was managing against Pittsburgh with the Mets. Just
the emotion of the game, probably, was a big part of it. When I asked the question about
why this happened and somebody said, "Because he wanted to hurt him," that, I
know, is not true. I know that takes away from what we're here to do, is to win ball
games, not to get even or hurt somebody. And if you're going to do any intimidating, it's
with a ball in your hand. If he's going to want to hurt somebody, he's got the ball. What
better sphere can he use than a ball, and throw it, and be within his rights then to want
to do that?
Q. There were concerns when John Rocker came here this year, because he was like public
enemy number one. If that's the way Mets fans now perceive Roger, do you have concerns
about his safety, bringing him over here?
JOE TORRE: Well, as you know, since the start of this series, I've been concerned just
about hopefully the fans don't get -- I mean you want them to get excited about it, but
not to the point of wanting to do harm to anybody. I think any time you have a World
Series, but especially one involving two teams from this city, there's a lot of passion
going around. A lot of people that are very loyal to their team and families are split.
There's always a concern. I mean, I'm not going to worry about it, because we're not going
to do anything different. And hopefully we're not sorry about that.
Q. Getting back to baseball for a minute, how different is your mindset managing here
in a National League park?
JOE TORRE: Well, it's a lot more complicated. You have to be a lot more on your toes
when you make pitching changes and you decide to try to sneak this extra out through with
this pitcher, because he may be the second or third hitter in the next inning. There's a
lot more managing to do. I have a tendency to say it's easier in the other league. I just
say it's less complicated in the other league, because there obviously aren't as many
decisions you have to make. So you really have to be on your toes not to run out of
players to begin with, which is easy to do, especially if you get behind in the game, you
start pinch hitting a lot. It's just more work.
Q. Rick Reed was in here and said from his perspective as a pitcher, if Mike, as the
batter, ever threw a part of the bat, even in Roger's general direction, he certainly
would have been ejected. It should be the same way when a pitcher throws a piece of the
bat in the hitter's direction. What do you say to that?
JOE TORRE: If it's purposely done, I can consider that. But that's my contention, that
when he threw it, he had no idea that Mike was running to first base, because the ball was
foul. And Mike, I think, even admitted the fact that the reason he ran is because he
didn't know where the ball was. So if the ball was way foul, and if Mike had seen that, he
would have been standing at home plate. I seriously doubt that Roger would have thrown the
bat at home plate. I really do. Again, that's my opinion. That's my true feelings.
Q. Could you talk a bit about El Duque's post-season success?
JOE TORRE: He's been remarkable. The last outing wasn't one of his best, but he
persevered and hung tough until we were able to win the ball game against Seattle. I go
back to that first game he pitched against Cleveland in '98. We were down 2 -1. He hadn't
pitched in 16 days. As far as the focus and the determination, it's been pretty
remarkable. It has. I know he was a rookie, so to speak, but he obviously pitched a lot of
important games. You can't teach this. Certain people are born with that desire and that
need to be in the middle of everything when it's important. It's really tough to see. I
mean, what is he? 8-0 or something like that? Which is remarkable that he would get that
many decisions and all be on the positive side. There's something inside there that drives
him, and I'm glad he's on my side.
Q. Do you grudgingly accept the inevitability that this replay of Clemens and the bat
and Mike Piazza is going to be shown ad infinitum through the World Series and probably
beyond this World Series?
JOE TORRE: Unfortunately, whichever team wins this World Series -- if the Mets win, I
think they're going to use that as a motivation for coming back and beating us. I mean,
not that the Mets won't, but I'm saying it may be put to the public that way. And if we
win, it's still going to be a major part of it. It's unfortunate, because baseball should
be first and foremost. And the World Series should be a fun, competitive time to celebrate
two teams that are trying to be the best for that year. I was living in New York in 1969,
and I was with the Cardinals. And this is obviously nothing as serious as what went on
here or even back in July, but I've watched myself hit into that double play to put the
Mets in their first World Series I don't know how many times. That was torture. So this is
definitely going to be torture if you have to watch that time and time again.
Q. If I could sneak in a two-part question here, where does the manager draw the line
between passionate support and defense of his player and a point where you say,
"Well, what he did was wrong." And, secondly, you're up 2-0 in this series.
You're standing here today. You don't look like a guy who's up 2-0. You look like you're
almost at a funeral. Could you address those two things?
JOE TORRE: I'm glad you left the funeral part out. (Laughter.) Where do I draw the
line? I don't condone what he did. But, again, I still hold to the fact that he didn't
throw it at him, okay? He threw the bat. And as I say, if someone had brought something up
to me last night -- that normally when a bat comes at you, you try to avoid it, I can
believe he didn't know it was the bat or the ball when he reached for it initially. Then
when he picked it up, he fired it. When you think about this, you're coming down here,
you're looking at this object, then you throw, then all of a sudden you're seeing where
you're throwing it. Okay? The reason I'm passionate about it, because I'm convinced, and
as I say, I saw it. Nobody had to tell me what happened. We had to view it from our side.
As I said, it was the wrong thing to throw the bat, no question. I'm not defending in that
regard. But I am defending to the point of thinking he was trying to hurt Mike Piazza or
anybody else. We're up 2-0. But you know me, that's far from being over. The Mets are
certainly capable of winning four games in a row. They've done it many times this year,
and they've done it over the last couple of years when their backs have been against the
wall. Their backs aren't quite there yet.
THE MODERATOR: Do you want to give a line-up?
JOE TORRE: Yeah. I decided to not play Chuck Knoblauch at second base. I gave this a
lot of thought. There were a number of things that kept me awake last night, and that was
one of them. Just basically because he hasn't played a lot there. With all the questions
that have been asked, you keep asking enough questions, you start thinking about the
answer. I just decided to play Vizcaino, which I just didn't want to take the chance of a
guy out in second base, and not being as familiar with it as he had been in the past or
will be again. So Vizcaino is leading off. It's going to be Jeter, Justice, Bernie, Tino,
Posada, O'Neill, Brosius, and El Duque.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢ï¿½Â¦