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October 24, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. With everything else that's going on tonight, there's a chance David Cone could be pitching his last game for the Yankees. Do you have a hard time envisioning a rotation without David in the future?

JOE TORRE: Well, I don't know. I don't know if it's -- it's more important than a rotation, I have trouble visualizing a clubhouse without David Cone. He means so much to this ballclub, I think last year we were at sort of a crossroads also going into the off season. We weren't sure if he was going to be back. Things have a way of working themselves out. But for sure, if David's not back, it will be -- there will be a void in our clubhouse and of course in our rotation.

Q. How do you feel Chad Curtis has become accustomed to becoming a pinch runner, particularly the play last night off third basis. Second, were you glad he played a role in the game last night?

JOE TORRE: In fact, I talked about this with my ballclub, I wish everybody could be eligible to play in the World Series. And obviously you have to leave some people off. But Chad Curtis, you know, he knows how to play off the bench. That's not easy for players to do. You're right, that was a big play last night, what would have been a wild pitch, being able to stop himself and come back. Then the other guys putting on the brakes behind him. I'd like to have everybody enjoy the fruits of a World Series. However, you know, our priority is to win whichever way we think we can do that, we're going to try.

Q. What did you see in Allen Watson that the Mets and Mariners didn't? How does his goofy personality fit in your clubhouse?

JOE TORRE: He is a goofy person. I keep telling him he had Maxville and me fired in St. Louis, he was the number one draft pick and didn't live up to the notice. I think bouncing around a lot he's matured as a person and, of course, matured as a pitcher. He accepts his role. I think a lot of these things, when young players come up, especially young pitchers, they have their own way of doing things and they have a tendency not to accept the help that people, you know, it doesn't go in there. I think Watson is one of those guys. Plus he is a New Yorker; he's a tough kid. Whatever he does when you put him out on the mound, if he doesn't do the job, it's not because he's afraid, I know that. But the guys love him. And I'm just glad he's a part of this thing.

Q. You talked a lot about Mariano. What is it overall that makes him so good, that makes him so effective? And specifically during this streak here as well.

JOE TORRE: I think it's just his approach. He understands what a short reliever's all about. I think when Mariano got better, toward the end of last year, you know, he was a fastball guy, had some of these -- fastball hitters kept fouling balls off. We need to do something else. Mel Stottlemyre worked with him on the grip on fastballs, now he has one where he can cut it, sink it, he can do a lot of things. Even though he's throwing a fastball, it has a number of different things to do now; the fastball is different. I think once Mariano got over the fact that he would think about striking people out, he became a real good reliever. Now you see him go through some innings throwing six, seven pitches which enables us to have him available more so than before. Before that he threw 95, 96, was striking people out. Now it's more movement on his ball as opposed to sheer velocity.

Q. The numbers would seem to suggest that Scott Brosius was one of those players who excels at playoff time. Is there any theory in your mind as to why he is one of those players?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think a lot of our players are, you know, geared for this. We strive for this. Not that other clubs don't; I know the Braves do every year. They win the Division every single year. Their goals are just more than getting in the post-season play. Scott Brosius had a tough year, I think he's just starting to relax a little bit. But Scott was -- he did everything for us in the World Series and before last year, he hit .300, knocked in close to 100 runs. Our particular ballclub, I don't think we hang our hat on one particular guy. I think that helps everybody feel that what little they do is going to contribute to our winning. And Scott is -- he is the -- there's something about Scott, he keeps everybody loose; he's the jokester. He snaps when he doesn't get a hit. He's able to focus, along with other players. Scott gets big hits. He could look awful on one at-bat, then all of a sudden get a base hit to right field or hit a home run down the right-field line. Last year helped him a great deal, winning the MVP in the World Series and our winning the World Series, to have, you know, to come into this one realizing that every at-bat is a new day for him and whatever he can do to help the club. It sounds trite, but it's true.

Q. What has Chili meant to the team beyond the offense? As far as clubhouse things? Do you have a sense also that he's going to retire after this?

JOE TORRE: I don't know if Chili is -- we were going to talk about it, but every time that day came, something else came up and we never really have sat down to talk about it. The first half, both he and Jeter carried us, pretty much by themselves. You know, switch hitter, he was good for me coming off the bench because he knows how to prepare to do that job. He struggled a little bit in the second half but managed to win a game here and there, whether it's a single. I know he hit a single in the Texas series that helped us win the ball game. But in the clubhouse he's a true professional. Before Game 1 of the Division Series, I went up to him and Strawberry to get a feel for who I should start as a DH; neither one would help me. They said whatever you want to do. I want to get a World Series ring, so we trust you to do whatever you think is right. And that's a manager's dream because there's so many -- you've heard about so many horror stories about some players understanding or saying they understand what you're doing and they want to know the final -- the bottom line is why am I not playing. Chili has bought into what we're trying to do here, and he's ready whenever we need him.

Q. Scott said that when he came to New York he found all the things that visiting players dislike about New York, that as the home team those things are then in your advantage. Could you describe your perspective, you've been on both sides of that as well? What is it about New York that can either be distracting or overwhelming for a visiting team and do you feel that does play as a real advantage for your club?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, I'm not sure if Yankee Stadium helps us as much as maybe the other team is uncomfortable there. There's no question, you know, you can only -- I don't want to say that. But I remember last year, the World Series started and one of the players came up to me from the Padres, they looked up. A lot of them, it was their first visit to Yankee Stadium. They said, "Wow, these people are right on top of you here." To me, that was sort of an edge for us at that point in time. Yankee Stadium, the history of Yankee Stadium, out in Monument Park, knowing when you walk up and down those runways, the greatness that has done that before you, there are a lot of ghosts there. I just think the whole New York scene, the Yankee Stadium, the fans are very vocal, and they're very tough. They're very knowledgeable. It is, he's right. I mean it's great coming to New York and knowing they're all on your side.

Q. Darryl has spoken quite a bit over the last six weeks or so about how difficult it's been for him to make the transition into pinch hitting. I'm wondering how difficult you think that transition is in general and how he's done at it in particular?

JOE TORRE: He's done great. He just set his mind. One day I sent him up there, he took three strikes; strike one, strike two, strike three. We talked about it the next day, he said if you're going to use me that way, I'm going to have to get my mindset on readying for that. The second hitter, yesterday, I don't have to look at the bench for him because I know he's down the runway with a bat in his hand warming up. These type of things, he realizes, again, like Chili, realizing that there may be only one at-bat and realizing he really doesn't have a whole lot of control over when he plays that he's going to get himself ready for the role he may play. So, you know, as I say, it's a manager's dream to have veteran players that accept the role, plus it's a good example for young players who want to play and realize that you can only put nine guys out there.

Q. Warren Spahn said you caught his 300th win. He must have been 20 years older than you --

JOE TORRE: Probably more than that. Spahny, I caught Spahny and Burdette and Buhl, spoiled as a young 20-year-old catcher. Spahn, I think the one game I caught him didn't shake off one time until I realized when there was a pitch he didn't want to throw he wouldn't throw it for a strike. Seems like Maddux, doing those things. But it was against the Cubs. I think we won the Game 2-1 or 3-2; it was a great celebration. You know, afterwards I remember Chuck Dressen was sort of hidden on the street where we had this little party to see how many guys were going to come out after curfew celebrating Spahny's 300th victory. But he was very easy to catch because he was right there all the time. And, you know, he threw the screwball, threw the curveball, fastball and he didn't win his first game until he was 25. When he won that particular game, I think he was 41 or 42 years old.

Q. The All-Century Team's here. Is there anybody that you personally are in awe of?

JOE TORRE: There are a whole bunch of them. I couldn't pick one out of that group. I think baseball people, you know, whether you're a player or just someone who follows the game, are in awe of these players. Bob Gibson, to me, I was so intimidated by him and admired him at the same time that when we came together in an All-Star Game in 1965 in Minnesota, and he was the last pitcher and I was the catcher, he -- I remember going out to the mound -- let me see, who was it, Tony Oliva was the first hitter. We had two strikes on him. I remember going out to the mound. I'm playing with the Braves, he's playing with the Cardinals. I went out to the mound, I said I don't want this pitch to be down and in, I want it to be up and in. Should I go out there or not? I went out there, I said get this pitch up and in. He looked at me like I never existed. You never wanted to talk to opposing players even though we were on the same team, All-Star wise. Threw a pitch down and in, Oliva a double to left centerfield. Proceeded to strike the next three guys out. Now obviously we're the last two guys out there, we're in the shower. I said, "Nice pitching, Bob." Never even acknowledged my presence in the shower. And you just are very uncomfortable. Of course he was the first -- when I got traded in March of '69, over to the Cardinals, he was the first one to welcome me aboard. And I remember he said to me, I remember when Bing Devine, the general manager of the Cardinals at the time, I remember he asked: "Would you be interested in having Joe Torre on this ballclub." And he says, "Yeah, get him, get him, Bing. That would be a good move." Then they traded Cepeda for me, went to Bing. But he said but I didn't mean to trade Cepeda. You want Torre, but don't trade Cepeda. We have become very close and it's great to see him recognized the way he should be.

Q. Do you anticipate the crowd being more of a factor based on some of the comments that the Braves' players have made against New York?

JOE TORRE: I don't think it's going to matter. They're going to probably -- obviously what went on with the Mets, the Mets' fans, the New York fans are going to take whatever edge they think they can take. There's no question. And as long as they do it in the proper manner, you know, they can say pretty much anything you want as long as they keep from throwing anything. I think that's a no-no for sure. People can get hurt. But that's what makes New York interesting. They carp the home team too if we're not playing up to their standards. But I just assume when the Braves come in for Tuesday night that they'll be ready to agitate them like they do just about every other team they can.

End of FastScripts…

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