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October 21, 1998

Joe Torre

SAN DIEGO: Game Four

Q. The line-up, Joe, and who have you got in left field?

JOE TORRE: Line-up is the same, Ledee is playing left field and bats 7th, Girardi 8th, and Brosius will bat 6th, and you know the other people.

Q. How do you protect your team from over confidence at this point, being up 3-0?

JOE TORRE: I don't know if we know what that means, to be perfectly honest with you. We understand -- first of all we understand baseball, that anything can happen. And for a club like San Diego, they have won 98 games in the course of the year, and I'm sure at one point or another they won four in a row. And we know how in postseason how momentum shifts very quickly, and right now we have the ball in our court, and we have a lot of confidence, and hopefully we'll use that tonight.

Q. Joe, we've talked about this team's confidence, it's experience, it's depth, it's starting pitching all year long, is there one particular trait that you think separates this team from other teams you've managed or other great Yankee teams?

JOE TORRE: They're driven. And again, I haven't been connected with other Yankee teams, up until a couple of years ago. They're very driven. Last night when Paul O'Neill made the error, it just seemed like everybody was bent on getting him off the hook at that point in time. This is a club that has been -- it's even surprised me. I knew in Spring Training we had quality people, quality players, but to be able to maintain a focus and a determination all during the year, and then knowing the pressure going in the postseason, and finding out that even when we are tense that we play well. That's unusual, in my experience.

Q. Joe, what initially brought that on, what initially made them driven from day one?

JOE TORRE: Well, they're are very high expectations when you wear a Yankee uniform, I'm not putting any other ballclub down, it's just when the Yankees -- working for George Steinbrenner, he's a perfectionist, and he always tries to improve on perfection, so when you come to New York, you understand that getting to the World Series is what it's all about. And I think what starts that from day one is the fact that we have a number of people here from the '96 team, and even before that, and they had a winning club in '94 and '95 also. So it's just something that has happened here over the years, and then when you add certain people like Knoblauch who comes from Minnesota, where they don't have the players that we have, because of the budgetary problems, Oakland, where Brosius came from, you have players coming in to seize an opportunity. And it's nice when you have a nucleus, because it's a lot easier for those guys to blend in and get caught up in the same things we do.

Q. Just judging from the postseason alone, would you say that Brosius has been the MVP?

JOE TORRE: No question, up to this point. We have another game to win, and hopefully we can do that tonight. But Scottie Brosius, is -- during the whole postseason has really made his presence felt. The big two-run homer there, there's a lot of things he has done base-hit wise, defense-wise, and just attitude-wise that has helped everyone on the bench, also.

Q. Joe, you mentioned the other day the last game at Yankee Stadium, that it might be Bernie's last game. If, indeed that's the case, I guess, how hard would it be to see him go, if that's what happened?

JOE TORRE: Well, if that's going to be the case, we hope we can send him away with a ring. And the nature of the game is you're not going to have everybody back, obviously we all hope we get Bernie back. It was tough saying good-bye to the Jimmy Keys and the John Wetlands, too, in '96. But we understand it, and I think that's why players want to take advantage of something special, like we have going on right now. But it is going to be tough. I would miss Bernie if he left.

Q. Joe, what would a sweep mean in the big picture, comparing this Yankee team to the best teams of all time?

JOE TORRE: I really don't know. I'd like a sweep, just so we can finish it. Not that we're going to try to measure up to anybody else. It would be a marvelous year for us, as long as we win this last game, whenever it's going to be, hopefully tonight. But I think when it's all said and done, and we look back and you start comparing, then I think we can get caught up in it, but right now we can't afford that luxury.

Q. If you win this World Series, you will be compared to the'27 Yankees. Who are some of the best teams you remember, either when you were a player, as announcer, manager?

JOE TORRE: Well, I don't remember the '27 Yankees, but you hear about those guys a lot (laughter.) The Oakland clubs, with the Fingers and then Catfish and Reggie, those clubs, the Cincinnati Reds in '76, they were pretty incredible. The Brave teams, through the 90's they keep hounding you and hounding you, they've only won one World Series, but they keep going to the postseason. The Yankee clubs of the early '50s, they won five in a row from the late 40's to early '50s, that's pretty incredible to win five series in a row, I know it was different where you won your League and went to the series, but it's still a hell of a measuring pole.

Q. Where was the breakdown last night on the O'Neill throw to the plate?

JOE TORRE: Paul picked it up and he looked in and he saw Knoblauch raising his hands and he threw it to him. He was trying to get his attention to throw it to third base, and he realized that it was the wrong place, and Knoblauch seemed to disappear after he threw his hands up and there was nobody there to catch the ball.

Q. Without making a comparison, how good is this team? Do you stop and think of that at all?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, I was talking earlier, and you can't compare to maybe clubs that have a lot of Hall of Famers, but we may have Hall of Famers, we don't know that. The thing that I'm impressed, and I continue to find out things about this club, we played well, and I noticed that the first week of the season, we had a meeting in Seattle about we're 1 and 4, let's do something about it, we're supposed to be better than this, we've got to get angry. And we started playing well. They had this inner security about them, they know they're good, but they don't really care about telling other people how good they are. I'm impressed with that attitude. I found out something in the postseason, that it's okay to be tense in games and admit you're tense, and you still do a good job. I felt that way during the Texas series. That was a revelation for me, that guys aren't loose and yet they still manage to win. To me it's all pitching. It's all pitching that allows you not to score a lot of runs. But we know how to play the game. Last night I felt when Paul made the error, this ballclub pulled together to let's go after it now, not that you can automatically do it, but the determination is there. It's a terrific ballclub when it comes to self-motivation and determination. This ballclub is like no other club I've ever been around.

Q. Joe, in all your experience, have you ever conceived of three rookies having impact in this type of atmosphere as Ledee and Spencer and El Duque have, and what does it say about the organization to come up with guys like that?

JOE TORRE: Well, Hernandez's case, I think just the fact that you're the Yankees and you go out and spend money and you're going to have a chance to win, that's in Hernandez's case. Again, he's a rookie, but he's not really, because he's pitched in pretty important situations. The other kids, I was chatting earlier also, here we had a big problem in Spring Training with Chili Davis and Strawberry, and Raines and Curtis, and not one of these kids names were mentioned and all of a sudden you have Spencer and Ledee splitting the duty in left field. Spencer is a great story, and here's a guy that's been in the organization for eight years, and pretty well maybe was a suspect for a long time, and then became a prospect, and finds himself in the World Series. We've got an organization based on pride, let's admit it. Yankees tradition, I know when I managed the Cardinals we talked about all the championships they've won, of course when you come to the Yankees it's that many more championships, and you want to make sure that you get the best instructors possible, and we've worked on that. I think we have a good system right now, and again, what makes players strive and achieve, I think, is the fact that you get a chance to play in Yankee Stadium or wear the pinstripes and the organization -- we have plenty of people, we have plenty of scouts, and it's not easy to scout, because sometimes you may find players that are as good as they get, they may be in high school or college, and not get any better. That's probably the toughest job to do in baseball is scouting.

Q. Zimmer said that you and he really weren't that close when you called him and offered him the bench coaching job, what went into that situation?

JOE TORRE: I guess that hurts my feelings. I thought I was close to him, I guess he wasn't close to me (laughter.) I've always respected Don, the fact he managed two teams in each League, and probably a big factor for me, I know I managed the Mets, but coming to Yankee Stadium, which is unlike any other place, managing for Steinbrenner, and he had coached here a couple of different times, and I thought he would be a guy I could trust to tell me the truth, be there for me, and help me in a lot of ways. And I'm glad I made that decision. He was at the top of the list, and I really didn't know if he was going to accept, because I know he had sort of walked away from the Colorado thing halfway through the season, but we spoke one day, the first thing he said to me when I asked him about the job is, George didn't have you make this call, because I know he and George were closer than Zim and I were. And I said, no, it was my decision. And once he found out it was my decision, he accepted it.

Q. Joe, going back to what you were saying before about what it means to players to wear the pinstripes, what does it mean to you personally?

JOE TORRE: Well, to achieve something as a member of the Yankees -- first of all, my hometown and growing up in New York, I don't think I was ever a Yankee fan basically, because they won all the time. It was no fun rooting for them. I was rooting for the Giants, anybody in the National League to beat the Yankees in the World Series, because they were in the World Series all the time. But you always respected what they did. And nobody wore the uniform better than Micky Mantle did, the way he played the game, switch-hitter, hit the ball five hundred feet both ways. You always admired and always had a special feeling when you played against the Yankee team, even if they weren't winning championships. During my playing days and when we played Spring Training against the Yankees or when I managed against them in Spring Training, it was always more special to beat the Yankees. Anytime the Yankees are out there, they always seem to be -- represent the best, and that means a lot to me to be able to achieve what we've achieved so far in my hometown as a member of the Yankee organization is pretty special.

Q. You had mentioned last night, maybe comparing you guys to the old Celtic teams, is that because people are going to remember the sum of the parts, more than they'll remember the parts in 10 or 15 years?

JOE TORRE: It's nice -- there's so many times that we talk about how much money players make. And well, he should do that because he's making 4, 5, 6, 7 million dollars or whatever it is. It's nice to be able to talk about it, and I use comparison of the Celtics, because they were such a good team, team. Nobody really cared if anybody scored 30 points, with Russell in the middle and Ramsey, and all of those people, they worked together as a unit, and it was fun to watch them. They only really cared about the end result, which was winning. And yes, if we look back on these Yankee teams, that's the one thing I would love to have people think about is there's no one name that comes to mind, but the team, itself.

End of FastScripts…

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