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October 11, 1998

Joe Torre


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 starter?

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 starting rotation.

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 offense?

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 mound?

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 postseason?

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…

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