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October 11, 1998
CLEVELAND, OHIO: Game Five
Q. Can you just talk about Paul O'Neill a little bit and what he's meant to you in --
over the last three years?
JOE TORRE: When I came to New York I was told he's a selfish player -- you hear rumors,
none of the inside people told me this, none of the Yankee people -- because he throws
helmets and hits water coolers and all that stuff and observing him and talking to him in
spring training, you know, you realize it was a passion and that's what he wants, he wants
to get a hit every time up. The other day we were talking in that short meeting about
having some fun and he said to me yes, skip, he says, it's not fun unless you win and
that's basically what he's all about. He's a terrific guy. George Steinbrenner in New York
last year used the word warrior and I think that was a perfect fit. He's really the
backbone of this ball club.
Q. If it comes to Game 7, are you thinking about anyone other than Pettitte as a
JOE TORRE: Game 7 everybody will be available if there's a Game 7, so I'm not really --
I'm not going to really talk about who's going to pitch until we know there's going to be
a Game 7.
Q. You've mentioned this on and off, but can you just speak about the kind of impact
the starting pitching has had on your success?
JOE TORRE: That's what we've -- I mean, that's been our success, our signature is
starting pitching. I remember starting here in '96, we had a lot of available arms in
Spring Training, a lot of people that couldn't pitch because of injury. And we averaged
about six innings a start and then '97 was a little better and this year, basically, have
six starting pitchers, with Irabu and Mendoza and today the four we have. That's been our
strength and that's the reason why we won so many games this year even when it's been
talked about, how do you hold your focus when your club is so far ahead, which we did get
very early. When that one guy goes out every five days, it's something new for him and I
think that's what's been the consistency -- having a consistent ball club is our starting
pitching. It's been the backbone and when we had problems playing around .500 ball for
that 2, 3 week span, it was basically because we weren't pitching very well in the
Q. In a lot of people's minds, this has been the toughest series for you than they
anticipated. Has this been in your mind been tougher for you?
JOE TORRE: Every series is tough for me. Even when we have a big lead you go out there
every time and you don't think you have to get involved until the chase and you realize
you have to win. I think because we won 114 games everybody assumed we're just going to
run through everyone and that's not the case. We don't feel that. If we felt that, we'd
have been run over by now. We realize it's going to be tough. Especially Texas, they had
been playing well the last couple of weeks in the season to get back in first place and
had three tough games, sure we swept them but all of those games, aside from a pitch here
and there, could have gone either way. Anytime you talk about a club like Cleveland
they've been in this situation so many times and I'm such an experienced guy when it comes
to experience, I think that gives you a leg up, so we knew that this series was going to
be a tough one.
Q. There was more bad umpiring last night by the 2nd base umpire. Are you concerned in
the next 10 days or so -- do you think -- do you think umpiring is going to be a factor in
the rest of these games?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think the history of the World Series you go back and there's always
been a play here or there that the umpire supposedly missed, so I don't think it's just
this year. It's the human element. That's what we're dealing with. Obviously pitchers
aren't perfect all the time and hitters aren't perfect and umpires aren't perfect.
Somebody mentioned the other day a little uncharacteristic for me and -- I wouldn't say I
overreacted, I was just sorry that a play like that caused the stir it did and made a
difference in the game. But it's going to happen. As long as there's a human element
involved and the replays that show it a hundred different times, you're going to sit home
or sit upstairs and we're going to watch it, too, and say, wow, how in the hell can you
miss that play, but we have one shot at it.
Q. You spend most of your time worrying about what goes on on the field. What's your
sense when you're in the city in particular of how the external expectations for this team
differ from the '96 team?
JOE TORRE: It concerns me. Not only in the city, but my relatives, my friends.
Everybody is coming in for the World Series. Settle back here a little bit. We have a long
way to go. I don't think people understand what goes on and what can go wrong. I try to
caution people. As long as my players don't assume everything is going to be hunky dory,
we're not working at it, that's my only concern. But it is very tough to go around the
city and have people make the assumptions and you're right, '96, we were sort of the
underdog scrimping and scratching and stuff like that. And it is difficult. I much prefer
to be at the ballpark where I'm insulated from that stuff.
Q. How important is the stolen base right now for you guys, just trying to create
JOE TORRE: That's part of our game. We don't rely on any one individual offensively.
There's not one homerun hitter that we rally around. Again, we're more -- I know we hit a
lot of homeruns in the 2nd half of the year, but basically our attack is diversified.
We'll steal bases, hit and run, we hit line drives, get deep in the count. So the stolen
base is a big part of it. The problem we've had, first of all, we had Rodriguez in Texas
which gives you a problem. Sort of alters your plans. And then here in the first game, we
didn't get many men on base and when we did, it was a double play. But we'd like to
believe that's part of our threat and we want to be aggressive and, last night, again,
even maybe not your prototypical base stealers like O'Neill. Just ask our base stealers to
think about it and just if you get an opportunity, if you're going to guess a pitch or
whatever, go ahead. Don't be afraid to get thrown out and that's basically my philosophy.
Don't be afraid to make a mistake.
Q. Win or lose today, your players know the series has to go back to New York. How much
do you suspect that fact might relax them knowing that?
JOE TORRE: It makes a big difference to us, knowing we're going home and going to play
Game 6 at home. Three or one, obviously, it's a high mountain to climb. It's been done
many times and especially when you have pitchers -- we can send Wells and Cone out there,
but 2-2 is much better knowing that today's game is very important, but if we happen to
lose that we don't feel that we're totally at a disadvantage with two games at home.
Q. Joe, how big of a pick up has Scott Brosius been through this year?
JOE TORRE: He's been terrific. Didn't really know what to expect. Didn't really know
what kind of a player Scott Brosius was because I played against him a handful of times
during the season and he didn't have a very good year. Bad year in '97. '96 hit some
homeruns and did well. Never realized what a fine defensive player he was until we saw him
in spring training. But offense -- interesting offense, hit and run, bunt, hit the homerun
to the opposite field. . He's really been a terrific part of our offense and sort of makes
me think back to the Cleveland clubs, to the Texas clubs, to the Seattle clubs when you
look at the bottom of the order, you really get no relief. I remember when Sorrento was
here a few years ago, low in the order and hitting some homeruns so you really never had a
chance to breathe and I think that's what Scotty gives us.
Q. Wells has had a remarkable record in the last two years both regular season and
postseason. Could you talk about the confidence factor of your club when he's on the
JOE TORRE: When you have a pitcher like a Wells or David Cone, it really does a lot for
your team. You feel that if you get a run or two runs, it's -- it could hold up because of
his ability. I know from my personal experience playing behind a Gibson or a Steve Carlton
or a Seaver or a Spahn, over the years it really gives you a little bit of a lift going
out there and knowing that you're going to have a shot to win. Again, you hope he has good
stuff and it works out the way we'd like to believe it will, but no question, the
psychological edge you get from having him on the mound really helps.
Q. What is your confidence level with Stanton right now, considering his outstanding
JOE TORRE: Again, when he was struggling the end of this year, I kept saying whether he
pitches well or not, it's still going to be the guy you go to and believe he's going to do
the job. Last year and this year, what he's done for us postseason, every instance he's
been here this year, it's been a key situation and he's done a heck of a job. I was happy
we didn't have to go into a 2nd inning with him last night because it makes him available
today. Our whole bullpen, I have a great deal of confidence in.
End of FastScripts