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October 25, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe.

Q. It seems like everything -- you try to shape things up in October, things seem to work out golden. First pitch, you couldn't have planned that better. What kind of a boost did that give this club?

JOE TORRE: It certainly makes you feel good. Jeter, he may be leading off, but he's not a leadoff hitter. He's going to see the ball, he's going to swing at the ball. He makes things happen. He's a kid who's only been around five years, and he's got all the qualities of someone who takes charge and leads by example, as opposed to telling anybody that he is the leader of this club.

Q. You're now in a position I know you like to be -- one game away from a World Series championship. The mood right now, this is a familiar place for you. What does it say about this team to once again be on the brink of winning a championship?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's someplace I've been before, but it's certainly not familiar and sure-fire stuff. But this ballclub, I think, bouncing back after losing last night's game, and God, it was a tough ball game tonight. It really was. We needed every single bit of contribution that we got from every pitcher out there. It obviously feels good. You know how dominant this ballclub is in this ballpark. If you told me three runs were going to be all we needed after Piazza's home run, I wouldn't have believed it.

Q. What was your thinking on going with Cone against Piazza right then?

JOE TORRE: Well, Piazza's one of the few players that's in scoring position when he gets in the batter's box. Obviously, Neagle didn't know that that was going to happen. David Cone knew in the top half of that inning that he was going to pitch to Mike, and he had a couple good swings off Neagle. He hit the home run. Even though I didn't think it was a bad pitch. I just made up my mind that he was going to pitch to Piazza at that point.

Q. Considering that Cone hadn't pitched much at all since the end of September, only one time in the post-season, then it wasn't his accustomed role, was there some concern about how he might fare against a hitter who had two pretty good swings in that game?

JOE TORRE: There's always concern. There's no question. But I knew when Cone came in to the game that the trust factor was still there, in my mind. He came in, in Seattle and did a nice job. I really was in between on who was going to start today. I went with Denny, who did a terrific job for us, because he could give us probably more length than David could. But in a situation when coming out of the bullpen, especially when he let me know that: "If this helps you make up your mind, I'm fine coming out of the bullpen," that sort of pushed me on the other side of the fence on that.

Q. Did you have a good look at Piazza's ball in the first inning, the one that went way above the foul pole? What usually happens on balls that high above the pole? Is there a pattern to how they're called?

JOE TORRE: You do the best you can, obviously. I did not get up because I knew it was hit far enough to get out of the ballpark, and I didn't even want to see it. Even in Yankee Stadium, that rightfield line, I'll just sit there and wait for the crowd reaction. But it's a little tougher here, because you have New York-New York. But you watch Mike. When he didn't continue running, that made me feel pretty good.

Q. Going back to the Neagle thing, yesterday you got criticized a little bit for sticking with your pitcher too long. Today people are going to say why did you take him out so early. Obviously, it worked out today. The fact remains, do you manage differently in a World Series here than you would during a regular season knowing the guy can't get a win if you leave him in there?

JOE TORRE: Oh, no question. When you're managing during the season, you're doing things to help you in the long run. When you get into a short series, you're doing things today and for today. When you have -- I can't say a plan -- but as it develops, as it goes along, you have to do what you think is right to get an out, to get an inning, to get a hit. Yeah, you definitely manage differently. Don Zimmer taught me that my first year in '96, especially in dealing with pitchers. Denny was obviously disappointed when I went out there. I saw that look in his eye. He was shocked. But it's something that if I hadn't done it and had thought about doing it and something bad happened, I never would have been able to forgive myself for it.

Q. In a series like this, most managers would be thrilled to have one guy who's really hot at the plate. You've got two in Jeter and O'Neill. What kind of comfort factor does that give you going to the last three games?

JOE TORRE: I thought Bernie had some good at-bats tonight, and Justice just missed that last home run. He hit it right to the base of the wall. My feeling is every time Bernie gets up there, he's going to get a hit. I certainly have a lot of confidence in that, and I feel we're very fortunate that he has gone -- he's been blanked, and we're sitting at 3-1. Paul O'Neill -- I can't be happier. I couldn't be happier for what he has gone through physically, emotionally during this season. He is such a tough, tough competitor. About two or three years ago, George Steinbrenner, when he introduced him at the Yankee dinner called him a warrior, I don't think anything fit him better than that description.

Q. What happened in your clubhouse?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. Somebody came out and said that a pipe broke and it was starting to flood. I didn't bother going in to check, because I didn't really care. I was concerned more of what was on the field. They're still trying to clean it up in there.

Q. Does your team continue to amaze you, the things they do in these big spots?

JOE TORRE: No, they don't amaze me. I expect it. I felt very comfortable yesterday with the way we played the game. It doesn't always guarantee you're going to win. I think you just sort of take the temperature of the team and just have a sense of how they are. And yesterday we were -- nobody's loose. I don't care what you say. I had a good, confident feel. So losing last night, sure, it bothers you. But I thought we were beaten, as opposed to beating ourselves. I think that's important. And tonight, they're a determined group. Again, that doesn't guarantee you're going to win, but the pitching is what got us there tonight.

End of FastScripts....

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