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October 12, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. What do you think of the job your pitching has done on their hitting so far, and how much have you come to trust Pettitte in big games?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know that's what made it so frustrating the first game; we give up a couple runs and that's normally good enough to win but it wasn't good enough against these guys. I trust him very much. I think overall, our starting pitching has been the reason that we won the division. I know our bullpen has been spotty at times, but once we got Roger back and Hernandez from their injuries, I think once you get a full compliment of starters it really takes the pressure off any one individual to carry the load. And Pettitte, I think I told you guys before, in 1996 when I met him and watched what he did in the post-season in 1996, he got me hooked then.

Q. Are you set on Neagle for Sunday or do you still not know that yet?

JOE TORRE: Obviously, I was pleased with the way he pitched, but I'm just going through the first time with the four starters and then we'll make a decision when the time comes.

Q. It is acknowledged that the batting slump -- one guy starts pressing and the whole team starts to press. Tino and Louie have stayed above that. Is there any explanation to how they don't get sucked in by it all?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think Tino got his pressing out of the way during the season. He's been really good, knock on wood. Post-season, he's really had a nice approach. He really has. He's used the whole field. My theory was during the course of the season when he was not hitting home runs -- let's admit it, when you look at Tino and say he has a bad year and he knocked in 90 runs, that is pretty damned good. But when he was not hitting home runs I sensed he was trying to hit home runs and you get towards the end of the season and you realize you were not going to hit a lot of home runs the rest of the year I think he became a much better hitter. As far as Louie, he is a wild-card. You don't know -- sort of like Yogi Berra, you don't know where to throw the ball to him, off the ground, over his head. And you're right, he is very loose. He uses both lines. He has really been a big asset for us since we got him back.

Q. Would you talk about the success you guys have had against Aaron Sele in the post-season the last couple years, does that give you any added confidence?

JOE TORRE: I think yesterday's game is giving us the confidence for tomorrow. But these two ballclubs, it's not like when we talk about Oakland, a ballclub that was not supposed to be there or who has not been through all this stuff before. But when you talk about the Seattle club, so many veterans, the manager included, who has won one World Series and been in the post-season, you know, it's a push as far as I'm concerned. I don't think Aaron Sele, you know, because he has not won a post-season he is going to go out there any different than the reason I picked him as an All-Star pitcher. He has good sufficient stuff. It's just a matter of being able to spot his stuff the way he needs to do like most pitchers. But I don't have any reason for that. We've never kicked his brains out. I know that. I remember one game, he hung a curveball and somebody hit a three-run homer, I think it was Shane Spencer who hit a home run and beat him in a post-season game where it was a 0-0 game or 1-0. It was a late home run. He pitches like that, he's going to be tough to beat.

Q. Looking back in the season, have you had to make more tough decisions with your core veteran guys than in the past, like Cone, Knoblauch, more tougher decisions on who is going to play and be a part of things?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think we have. Especially involving David Cone, where we had to bypass him a time or two with -- I remember one game right before the All-Star break where I had Andy pitch on a Sunday night instead of David. But the good part about it is David, even though he didn't like the idea, he still understood why I made it, made the decision. But you do what you have to do as a manager, and the thing that has made it easier, you know, it is never easy, but a little bit easier is the fact that these players -- you know, we've had this relationship where they know when I have to make a certain decision; it's not that easy. They think more about the decision than how it involves them. So many players that I've come in contact with in the past really lose sight of the fact, because they are not playing, that's all they think about. But on our ballclub over the last few year, I've had to make a lot of decisions, Strawberry over Chili Davis or vice versa. As long as they respect the person that's playing out there in their place, I think that's important, and they don't lose sight of that.

Q. Have you noticed any similarities to the way that Seattle and Oakland have been pitching your hitters?

JOE TORRE: You know what's funny is we all have these scouting reports and I think I mentioned yesterday or the day before, it's so much information; it's too much information. I don't see -- I think most clubs try to pitch us pretty much alike. I think the secret is being able to do what you try to do. Obviously, when you hang a breaking ball, you're not trying to do that. So if pitchers can pitch to what they are trying to do, then it's fine. The thing about it, I think that is what extends games, too, because everybody -- not everybody, but most pitchers, as opposed to years ago, when you rear back and say strike one here it is, they are trying to have you take every pitch, if you look at the way things go. And with the strike zone, which is, you know, it changes from time to time, and it's the same for both teams. I think it just extends games and we don't challenge as much as we used to. But I don't see that they are pitching us any differently than anybody else.

Q. Have you looked for or do you sense any fatigue in your team with all of the cross-country flights?

JOE TORRE: What's interesting, I know I've mentioned this before, the fact when I managed clubs before and we'd get into September and we were tired, but since I've been managing teams that were in a pennant race, they don't get tired. A lot of it is psychological. We would have been a lot more tired today if we did not comeback and win that game yesterday. But I really don't think that teams think about that when they are involved in what they are involved in. But I know we enjoyed the trip last night, because we got in at a decent hour for a change, and the fact that we didn't have to play a game today. This is the first off-day. And you've traveled with us -- in fact, since we left here, the last time we played here, we went home and got home at 9:00 in the morning and that was our off-day. That was the last one. I think when it is all said and done and our season ends, hopefully our season ends when baseball ends, I think everybody will be exhausted but I think until that time, I think it is basically on adrenaline.

Q. Following up on what you were talking about the test-tube nature of the game today, how much more spontaneous was it 30 years ago when you were playing and do you think it was better then because of that?

JOE TORRE: You threw the bats and the balls out there and said, here, go ahead and play. It was more, I challenge you, and a war-like atmosphere. Now it is specialization. When you look at the box scores, you start with the H, for hold, a pitcher comes in with a five-run lead he leaves with a one-run lead and he has a hold. Nice stat to keep on your side. It's really different in that regard, because we're, as I say, specialization, we have this information, we have the ability to find things out, to videotape, and I think we get -- we get too much into it. Every ballclub is the same. I know Lou and I were talking about it because we both had meetings the same day and you can only take so much of it before you sort of walk away and let the scouts handle the rest of the meeting. Better? I think the athletes are bigger and stronger and in better shape now than we were when we played back, 20, 30 years ago, because we are allowed to use weight training now that we were not allowed to use then and nutrition is probably better. There is a whole lot going on. I think the game is a little bit different, but to say that it was better then, I can't say that.

Q. Can you talk about the mood of the team on the flight last night, as compared to the flight out to Oakland?

JOE TORRE: That was the worst. The flight in Oakland was terrible. Last night, singing happy birthday to El Duque and stuff like that. But winning and coming back late, winning that ballgame yesterday was a big lift for us. But that trip, it's really funny, because after we won on Friday at home, we had that 2-1 lead against Oakland. It's such a negative thing. You have to leave the next day if you lose. But you don't want to acknowledge that you are even thinking about that. And I remember the last thing I said to the club after the game, I said, "Dress like you're going home after the game, but bring a bag." It's tough to tell them to come here to the ballpark and expect to win when you have to bring a suitcase. There's something negative about that, but you have no choice but to have to do that. But that trip was from hell on that Saturday night.

Q. Just given the way the regular season played out, particularly at the end of the season, has this post-season been a more emotional experience for you as opposed to previous post-seasons?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. I think the first -- that first series three out of five, really gets me tied up in knots, and I think probably on top of what we went through to get here the last couple of weeks, even though we had the big lead, we found out what a big lead was for and almost squandered all of it. But I think once we got through that five-game series, it caught up with me. It was probably part of the fatigue of going back and forth; I was very emotional. But I don't sense that it was any more so. I've been choked up before -- since I've been with the Yankees, it has been a wonderful feeling to have that opportunity to cry tears and enjoy.

Q. Has it been a different kind of emotion because you've been with this team so long and you're now at a point where core players are being phased out; does that reach you?

JOE TORRE: You lose players every year. In the first year we lost Jimmy Key who was a very easy guy to like, and John Wetteland. But when you -- so much has been made. I was so touched yesterday when the fans at Yankee Stadium gave Paul O'Neill a standing ovation in the middle of that ballgame. That really got me. It got to me. And here is a guy that everybody is saying is in a terrible slump and he is, and you look up there and he knocked in 100 runs this year. I don't think he is at the end of his career. But for sure, after this season is over, getting back to your question, it is going to be sad because you know not everyone is coming back. And it has been a terrific time because we have had a lot of success and we've come through some tough times. But if you allow yourself to think about it now, it would be sad.

End of FastScripts....

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