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October 5, 1999
NEW YORK CITY: Game One
Q. Joe, how big of a boost it is to know Yogi Berra is out there throwing out the first
JOE TORRE: Well, I'm sure he went around and talked to a number of them. He beat all of
them here today. He was here before any of us were here. But it is a boost, I know for me,
because I've been trying to get Yogi to come to this stadium for years. I'm just pleased
that all that stuff is over and done with and that he's a part of the Yankee family again,
because that's where he belongs.
Q. How magnified do bullpens become in the post-season?
JOE TORRE: Well, we're going to find out. There's no question that any kind of weakness
is magnified in the off-season -- I mean in the post-season. The bullpen, the thing about
the bullpen is the fact that you can't hesitate to go there. And if you hesitate, that's
what normally beats you up. So having confidence in all parts of your game, I think, is
very important. But the bullpen, there's no question in today's baseball, getting from the
starter to the closer is probably the key element in the ball game.
Q. Joe, I know you're a coach that's close to your players. Shane Spencer made his name
here last year. Is it your job to make a post-season roster, including a starting line-up;
how tough is it? Is that one of your most difficult decisions of this season?
JOE TORRE: No question, those things are tough. Especially in Shane's case where he had
such a great September last year, and then a terrific post-season, especially against
Texas, where he hit a couple homeruns. It is tough. Again, you still have to do what you
think is the right thing to do. I went to Shane, he was the first one I went to yesterday
to explain that he wasn't on the post-season -- which didn't surprise him, he understood.
It does help when a player understands what the manager does go through. I know that, you
know, I've been associated with a number of players who shake their head and then still
couldn't understand why they weren't playing. But Shane, you know, I think was sort of
playing along with us and understanding as the season was winding down that, you know, we
were looking for a pinch runner in a situation and that was the reason he wasn't on it.
Q. Last year was such an emotional time, when Darryl got hurt. What is the feeling now
that he's back and overcome all those obstacles this year?
JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question when Darryl was diagnosed with colon cancer last
year and during this Division Series, it was a blow to everybody. It was a very tough
emotional blow for the players trying to concentrate on what they were having to do,
especially when surgery was pending for him. And, you know, they had him in spring
training, felt good about that. Of course we saw him at the parade last year, I think
everybody felt good about seeing him there. Then having the turbulent spring he had and
then the hiccup he had in spring training after the season had started, but everybody
genuinely was concerned about Darryl and they're certainly pleased that he's made the
comeback he has and put all that stuff behind him.
Q. Joe, in what ways is Ivan Rodriguez affecting the strategy you might have had
against an average catcher?
JOE TORRE: Well, Pudge, no question, he's an intimidator. He's like having somebody on
the mound that throws 98 miles an hour. You do alter your aggressiveness a little bit. You
still like to think you can move runners in hitting situations, but it's -- he's not
someone you freely try to steal and put pressure on the opposition on because of, first of
all, he delights in throwing to all bases, and he has had such an incredible run at
throwing people out at second base that, you know, you have to pick your spots for sure.
Q. How does this weather affect pitchers? How difficult is it to pitch under these
JOE TORRE: Usually, the pitchers would rather have this weather than the hitters. It's
a little bit of a lift, especially after a long season and pitchers have been pitching
every four, five, six days. I think the cool weather, although this may be more than cool
tonight, has a big lift effect. It keeps you strong. Case of a David Cone, that's a
different story because of his history of staying loose in between innings. So, you know,
I think otherwise, the pitchers -- unless they have to sit for a long time in a dugout or
maybe have long innings, this is usually a pretty good lift for them.
Q. You said a week or two ago you could tell the post-season was approaching because
O'Neill's intensity has gone up and he was throwing things again. Do you sense that
generally with everyone in the line-up?
JOE TORRE: Well, when you've clinched something, we clinched a playoff spot a while
back, the players are very inconsistent as far as just the intensity of the game. And you
sense, because you've gone through it before, that they were a little anxious to get to
the post-season. And I noticed yesterday during our workout we were very relaxed with a
nice, quiet way about us, like we're happy it's here. So, hopefully, that bodes well for
Q. In '96 you had never won. So you had that going for you. Last year, you were trying
to win more than anybody had ever won. This year, what, in your mind, is the challenge?
Just to do it again?
JOE TORRE: It is to do it again. And it's -- you know, you're right. '96, it will never
be duplicated the first time, it will always be memorable. Last year what we did during
the course of the year, then to carry it through -- last year was a lot more pressure, I
think, involved than this year. You didn't want people forgetting completely what you
accomplished during the season. But to get to the World Series a third time and, when I
haven't done it for 35 years, is -- you just -- once you've been there, the hunger is that
you want to get back because there's no greater high for me than knowing that you're on
the field with the other team that's the best team in baseball. And it's just a great
feeling, and you never get tired of it. I can see the players, when we go to spring
training, even when we start these Division Series, you know, they're thinking in terms of
winning eleven games. They need to win eleven games. Not that they're looking to the World
Series, but they understand it's the one-game-at-a-time process.
Q. Have you pretty much resigned yourself to the fact that this team is going to
constantly be measured against its own success? Anything less than the World Series, maybe
for other organizations, that's acceptable but not for this organization because of what
you've done in the last three years?
JOE TORRE: I think it's probably what they've done the last 80 years. The Yankee
championships, 24 world championships is pretty impressive. That happened before the last
few years. But you're right, when you wear this uniform, you're thinking in terms of World
Series, and it's a nice feeling because the player doesn't feel like, say you win this
division or -- I'll go back to last year. You win the Division and then you win the League
Championship Series, it's like we still haven't gotten to where our goal is. So it
definitely has something to do with wearing the Yankee uniform because of all those flags
that are waving, that are flying.
Q. All season we've talked about the starting pitching, how it's been up and down, how
it's been consistent or inconsistent. Now that we're here in post-season and you have a
four-man playoff rotation, how do you feel about it now? Do you feel -- or is it just hard
JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question, here you are right now and, you know, someone had
asked me last week wouldn't you have rather had Pettitte have a better last outing or
Clemens, sure. Here we are. These are our guys. It would be unfair to myself, it would be
unfair to my team unless I felt 100 percent secure and confident in their ability. They've
done it. And the reason they're picked as the four starters is what they have done over
the years. So this is basically, you send them out there, they know what time it is, they
know what day it is, and I assume that I'm going to get the effort. Again, that doesn't
guarantee you're going to win. But I know we're going to go out there and do the right
thing as far as preparation and energy.
Q. Joe, with what Ledee did last year in the playoffs and also with more confidence he
built up this year, what are your feelings about him coming in this time? Is it to the
point where you can expect almost great things for him?
JOE TORRE: Well, I hope he has added confidence. You know, there are times when you
started the season, it was like it was completely foreign to him after having a great
World Series, and I know the ability's there. I know that he's won some big games for us
and he's done some good things for us in the outfield. But, you know, to me, he's still a
kid. I look and learn and hope during this post-season that he gets off to a good start to
sort of, you know, to sort of get it under his belt a little bit and give him the
relaxation and the confidence.
Q. Joe, in the past you've always been concerned about the short series to begin the
playoffs. Obviously you have your hands full with the Rangers, but what sense of relief
was there always that you couldn't face the Red Sox and Pedro Martinez specifically in the
JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question this year Pedro Martinez has been the pitcher that
everybody's measured against and nobody has really measured up; there's no question. But,
again, if you think in a short series that you're going to face him twice, that means
there's going to be a Game 5. That's not a bad scenario, just like last year when they
were talking about facing Kevin Brown three times. If you're facing Kevin Brown two times,
we're going to have a fifth game and it's in Yankee Stadium. That's not a bad situation.
There's no question, Pedro right now. They're playing Cleveland tomorrow, Boston, because
of Pedro, has to have the edge because he can dominate. I watched him on a Friday night
out here. I wasn't aware of how many people he struck out, but I knew just about everybody
laid their helmet down when they got back to the dugout and shook their head in amazement
at what he has accomplished.
Q. How will you use Jim Leyritz, mainly as a pinch hitter? Does he have a chance to
start? If you could go back to the Yogi thing real quick, what was the final breakthrough
that allowed all this to happen?
JOE TORRE: My understanding is that Suzyn Waldman got both Yogi and George Steinbrenner
together. I was in Hawaii vacationing at the time and I had a call to tell me that. I
immediately called both of them to congratulate them. But I think Suzyn was directly
responsible for that. And Jim Leyritz probably, basically a pinch-hitting role for him.
You know, if I -- you know, the only way he would start in this series, if we have an
injury at this point, this short series.
Q. Talking a little bit about Pedro, going back to that question, is the dominance of a
pitcher like that what makes a five-game series so unfair?
JOE TORRE: Well, it would be unfair if it was a seven-game series because he would
pitch three times. That would really be unfair. I just think a five-game series is very
tough, basically because you play all year 162 games and then you have to face this
Russian Roulette to start with. And I know that it's going to go to the end of October if
we go to the seventh game of the World Series, and that's a long time. But five games,
it's still scary. But that's all right. Just leave it scary. Pitching is what dominates
the game; there's no question. I mean I think the All-Star Game was, you know, was a good
example of that. You had Sosa and McGwire and Walker. It didn't matter with Pedro; he just
went out there and mowed them all down.
Q. You were very supportive of Pettitte when he was struggling. How happy are you for
him personally with his turnaround, and what do you think is behind the fact that he's
pitched much better since the trade deadline?
JOE TORRE: Well, you know, it was easy for me to be supportive of him because I never
played in post-season, and I always respected the guy who would go out there and perform
in post-season. After watching him in '96 and even leading into the '96 post-season, how
well he had done, it was easy for me to support him. Andy claims that trade deadline had
nothing to do with it. I don't necessarily agree with that. I think it was a combination
of things. I think he bottomed out in a game in Chicago where he pitched very badly, the
trade deadline plus Mel worked with him, as he constantly does with all pitchers between
starts in making certain adjustments in his delivery. I think once he had two starts under
his belt, it just became a mind game with him and he had that confidence back. Every once
in a while he'll stray into that tentative-type pitcher, but he seems to be able to right
himself now where before it took a little work between starts.
Q. Before Game 4 last year, you talked about seeing El Duque at a restaurant, seeing
how at ease he was. Is he giving off that same sort of calmness now?
JOE TORRE: I think he's loving this opportunity. I know I walked by him earlier today
and I didn't say anything to him and he said hello to me, just to see if I was nervous, I
think. But, yes, I think he really gets caught up in this attention and it gives him an
opportunity to show people what he's doing. He's pitched some big games for us.
Unfortunately you go back to last year when we were playing the Mets at Shea Stadium,
that's a big game in this city obviously, he pitched his tail off in that game. I remember
when we wanted to take him out after eight or nine innings, he was still pumped about
staying in the game. He loves the challenge. I look forward to that tonight.
End of FastScripts