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October 15, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. Edgar Martinez has been a Yankee killer. But you've held him in check, is there an explanation for that?

JOE TORRE: From the looks of those numbers, he's been everybody's killer. He may be the best hitter in the game for me. I've said that for five years he has great stuff. You'd like very much not to have A-Rod or Edgar beat you, but you have to execute, and we've done a good job so far.

Q. What a difference a week makes. Can you describe the mood and the confidence of your team today as opposed to last week at this time?

JOE TORRE: We feel better about ourselves, and obviously we're cautiously optimistic. We're in terrific shape right now, and hopefully we win today's game, and think about, you know, what's next. But post-season is like that. I go back to 1996 and how badly we felt after losing the first two games to the Braves and going to Atlanta and have to try to turn it around. This ballclub never panics. I knock on wood with that one. We've been able to try to give our best effort; and if it is not good enough, then you tip your hat to the other team. I think trying to prepare yourself for every day and try to ignore what happened yesterday is the best way to do it.

Q. This seems to be a question all of America is asking right now, so I'll put it to you: Who let the dogs out?

JOE TORRE: I'm not giving that response.

Q. I realize this may be the contrarian question of the year since everybody seems to be ruling towards a Subway Series. But you grew up in New York; you managed in St. Louis. Can you talk about how the passion in St. Louis has always had that inherent fairness and how it has changed from when you played to when you managed there? Just your comments on St. Louis.

JOE TORRE: I have said it before, I was fired by both clubs, the Mets and the Cardinals. But St. Louis, there's something about being in St. Louis, and I played there for six years from 1969 through 1974 and managed there for close to five years. The one thing about St. Louis which is unlike any other city that I've ever played in is that if you were ever a member of the Cardinals, you were like royalty. Whether you were fired, traded, whatever it is, when you go back there, people welcome you back, always look at you like you were something special, because that's the way they look at their baseball team there. Players from opposing clubs loved coming in there, walking around downtown. It sort of got you ready to go to the ballpark because everybody was talking about it and excited about it. It's a special place, and there's no question the Cardinal fans, with their sea of red, it is fun, fastball baseball. It really is. It's different than going to Shea or going to Yankee Stadium, because it's not the event. It's winning and losing in New York, evidently, that makes it a little bit different.

Q. How difficult of a year has it been for Knoblauch in total, and does he have something to prove to you to eventually get his job back?

JOE TORRE: I told Knobby on the plane going out to Oakland that, you know, he's not as good a defensive player as he once was or will be again, but I thought he was on his way back. If we're fortunate enough to get through this and get to the World Series, and when we play in a National League park, he will be the second baseman. No hesitation there. But given the choice of our personnel, with the designated hitter, I just feel more comfortable doing this. But Knobby is working at it, and it has been an emotional year for him. And I'm just happy that he was able to come back and be a part of this, because in August some time, going into September 1, I had no clue if he was going to be able to be ready for us, and it has been a big bonus for us.

Q. Does this team relax more on the road and away from New York and the pressure to live up to itself?

JOE TORRE: I don't know if it is relaxing more. The road has never intimidated us. We've done good work on the road. We go back to 1996 and the games we won in Cleveland and Atlanta and those places, Baltimore. We enjoy being home. This ballclub enjoys being home. It may be too much media in that little clubhouse that makes it a little crowded, but aside from that, I think it is the fact that we're not -- we don't worry about going on the road. But we are very comfortable at home.

Q. Is there a pressure to live up to itself, and is that felt more in New York?

JOE TORRE: I don't think you feel it more in New York. You put on that Yankee uniform and you feel that pressure. I don't care if you won the World Series the year before or not, it's just inherent when you wear the pinstripes that you have a lot to live up to. And it starts back with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Mantle and Elston Howard, Yogi and Reggie, Thurman Munson. There's a lot of history that we're very proud of.

Q. How important was the acquisition of David Justice for you?

JOE TORRE: Brian Cashman not only kept it a secret, not that he was trying to -- I think Sosa's name took the headlines so often. But that was such a perfect fit for our type of club. Sure, he hits home runs, but he's not necessarily a home run hitter. He's a good hitter; contact guy. Plays the outfield well, even though I probably am playing him more out there than I would have liked to after we made some acquisitions. But it was a perfect fit for what we like to do.

Q. Is it important to win today, more so than past years, just because of the rest factor?

JOE TORRE: I think if we win today, five days is too much. However, you want to win today because you have momentum on your side. So that's why it is important to do that. In 1996, I go back, we had seven days' rest, and we could not get out of our own way the first two games against the Braves, and a lot of that was the fact that we were stale. You could do what they tried to do here, which scares me; play that simulated game and you're going to hurt somebody, and that's what always frightened me about playing a game that you know doesn't count. So you do the best you can and you work out. But I think winning today is more important, to win, as opposed to worrying about the rest.

Q. Will Roger's performance affect what you may or may not do with him for the World Series?

JOE TORRE: One thing I found out, and I'm glad I did, was the rest seemed to help him. I second-guessed myself about pitching him after he got hit in the leg in Detroit. He convinced me he was okay and pitched five days later and hasn't been the same, really, since. And that's what made me put him at the back of the line here. What he showed me last night was he really didn't care about the scouting report, he really didn't care about what team he was facing. He was just going to give you what Roger Clemens had, and he had a lot in the tank last night. We are going to look at it. Hopefully, have a choice on who we are going to pitch in Game 1 of the World Series, and that would mean winning today where you have all of your guys rested. But maybe some of it will have to do with our opposition as far as involving a lefty/righty situation, but Roger, I certainly would like to pitch him a couple of times where he would get some rest.

Q. In 1996 you had a lot of rest and you said you could not get out of your own way in the first two games. In 1999, you had a lot of rest and you started off by smoking the Braves. Did you learn something different in those three years?

JOE TORRE: I don't remember having a lot of rest.

Q. You won in five against Boston.

JOE TORRE: I don't remember how many days. But there were 7 days. In 1996, the first game of the World Series was rained out; so it was Sunday to Sunday.

Q. In determining the pitching, if you win, does having Roger pitch at home and not having the bat, especially against the Mets, make a difference, given the ill feelings from Piazza?

JOE TORRE: I was asked that before, and I'd look at it. I guess if it was a 50/50, you'd probably stay away from it, all right. But that's not going to really influence how I really line it up. I mean, if we're concerned about Roger -- if the event is going to be Roger Clemens hitting at Shea Stadium, then, you know, where we don't have the right priorities at that point -- I'm going to line my pitching up the way I think they best line up to win. And that's really not going to enter into it, unless it doesn't matter. Then, of course, you would arrange to keep a distraction out it.

End of FastScripts....

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