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October 13, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. What is the reasoning and thinking behind starting Ricky Ledee in left field?

JOE TORRE: Why not? Every time I put somebody out there I am looking for somebody to take charge of it. And we are not swinging the bats real well out there. And I just decided to play him, he is a good defensive outfielder. And I have played Spencer out there. He has as many at-bats as Spencer did this year.

Q. Having played for and against New York, can you tell us whether this is a more difficult place for visiting players?

JOE TORRE: I think New York, whether Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium you always hear -- and probably my being from New York, you don't really pay attention because you know the way the ballpark -- you did this, you do that. But a lot of visiting players are not comfortable coming to New York. It is because the fans are loud and at times there are certain elements of abuse. But again, I don't think that counts in postseason because first of all, the best clubs are here in postseason. They have been there they were here last week. So I really don't count that as you know, big deterrent for them.

Q. Being a native New Yorker you probably understand the way the fans work here. Do you consider the Indians the Yankee's top rival right now in baseball?

JOE TORRE: We have gone two years in a row now and they went to the World Series last year beating us, hopefully we can do that with a victory tonight. And go to the World Series. For sure, I mean they have been in postseason play, what, four years in a row or something like that. And we have been in postseason play in three years in a row -- hopefully it continues -- we always seem to have to go through Cleveland, they always seem to come to New York. At least as far as we are concerned but I think we are a rival right now. Sure after losing last year I think everybody looks for, I think it is a story for you guys and you know, for us, we obviously want to get to the World Series and we are going to have to beat this ballclub.

Q. If someone would have told you before the World Series that your team would be batting less than .200 in five games, would you think you would be ahead 3-2?

JOE TORRE: Well, I probably was more concerned swinging the bat -- I mean, pitching more so than swinging the bats. Two years ago we were definitely anchored by our pitching because we didn't have as much offense as we had this year even though we haven't hit, I still think that we do enough things during the course of the game even if it is not getting basehits, I think moving runners, getting walks, we do a lot of things with this club that we haven't been able to do last couple of years that don't necessarily show up as far as base hits or batting average.

Q. If this team were to win the World Series, it would be the second in three years, where would this team -- with the 119 wins, where would it rank in Yankee history?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, hopefully it will take 125 games -- obviously the '27 Yankees, that was very important to me. If we were going to tie or beat any club more so than the American League record even though we accomplished that also, to me, as far as I was concerned, the '27 Yankees set the standard. Everybody compares. So what we did during the season, I'd like to believe that in and of itself was a special thing and then of course postseason, you know, a little different back in '27. You didn't have to go through the tiers of playoffs like we have to do now. But I still think we have a special place in Yankee order, yeah.

Q. In the event of a Game 7, have you settled on a starter for tomorrow and would you announce that?

JOE TORRE: I am not talking beyond Game 6.

Q. Are you guys aware or concerned at all what is going on with the National League Series and maybe getting something from the fact, San Diego had a chance to put Atlanta away, didn't, in using that to reinforce the need to put somebody out when you get the chance?

JOE TORRE: It's a two-way street. It is not the matter of they didn't put them away. Atlanta didn't want to be put away. There are two teams on the field and momentum shifts very quickly in a short series and you don't win 100 games without being able to win four games in a row. There is no question that, you know, we are aware of anything can happen. We have a 3-2 lead right now, but we are not breathing any easier because we have a game to give, we don't think that way. Third game in Texas, we had a 2-0 lead, we were very tense because we wanted to close them out. I think that is the mindset of this ballclub and that is the one area I feel very good about.

Q. Wondering what your impression is of the overall baseball season were and how the postseason has matched up to it so far.

JOE TORRE: It has been a wonderful year with the home-run race that took everybody, not necessarily by surprise, I think the bang, bang with Sosa and McGwire right down to the end was terrific. Cal Ripkin went on stopping the streak himself. The races, the division races, and the wildcard races in both leagues, it has been a wonderful year. I think baseball right now -- let's not screw it up. I think we are on the way back of having it be as popular as it was before all this work stoppage stuff. I think what we have been able to do is get the attention of the casual fan, with the home-run races. I think even the non-baseball fans were very interested in what was going on.

Q. Are you willing to take more chances tonight in given situations to avoid a Game 7?

JOE TORRE: I like to believe we always take chances. I mean we feel like we are a very aggressive club. We don't want to play tomorrow. There is no question about that. We will do everything we can to win tonight. Again, the game will pretty much dictate what we do. But it is going to be based on how we get started with David Cone. If we get a lead, if we play aggressively or if we sat around and just waited for people to hit home runs we would have trouble scoring runs. So we are going to try to do whatever we can to score and hopefully David will give us the game that I feel he is going to give us.

Q. Without second guessing a fellow manager, could you give the pros and cons on what Bochy did last night with bringing in the pitcher?

JOE TORRE: No second guessing -- when you think that -- and as a manager, you think like a manager. I had fun when I was a broadcaster because I could do all these things and nobody could ever second guess me. But the thing about a manager and just from following the series, Kevin Brown was going to pitch Game 5. Well, if he was going to pitch Game 5, 0-0 to start the game, why not pitch the 7th and 8th with a two-run lead. I mean, to me that was a plan and it is really tough to second guess that. If he had enough rest to pitch 9 innings or 8 innings, why not pitch two innings. It just didn't work out.

Q. Have you or Chris Chambliss talked to Tino about his struggles or have you basically just let him go up to this point?

JOE TORRE: I talked to Tino, but Chris does constantly and he looked yesterday and today at videos, which they do everyday and during the game. Constantly working on it. Hopefully just -- hopefully Tino settles in tonight and gets a hit the first time up and all of a sudden things open up again. But they are constantly working at it. Sometimes you over do it and you overcomplicate it for yourself, but again, that is the one area we didn't have years ago all the video equipment and it is nice to be able to compare what happened last year with what is happening this year and show them side by side and maybe you know, be able to lock in on something. But they have been going over it for the last couple of days.

Q. Can you see any change at all?

JOE TORRE: Can I see any --

Q. Approach to the hitting?

JOE TORRE: We are going to know in the game. I think a lot of it is emotional. You don't get any hits and you put a little pressure on yourself. I thought Jeter was swinging the bat really well, then he didn't get any hits, then all of a sudden I think that bothered him a little bit, he started you know, pressing a little bit. That is the human element. That is what makes the postseason very unpredictable.

Q. Along those lines with the players struggling, do you feel it is the playoff pressure, untimely hitting or the quality of the pitching?

JOE TORRE: I think it is combination. I think the pressure doesn't allow you to have the patience that you have during the season where you say, well, I will come out when it is 5 games, 7 games, 4 games whatever it is, I think that type of thing adds to the immediacy of it. But the pitching -- obviously they are the best teams and you are going to see some quality pitching on a regular basis that you didn't necessarily see during the regular season.

Q. You just said about how Kevin Brown, he may have pitched Game 5 anyway and really may have been in another way looking at it as just part of the plan. How important is it for a manager to stick to a pitching plan through a series in light of Game 4? A lot of people thought maybe you should have gone away from Hernandez --

JOE TORRE: I think it is important for the psychology of it. I mean, if you go away from Hernandez say in Game 4 who is going to pitch Game 5, he has to pitch Game 5. Now if he doesn't believe we have faith in him to pitch Game 4, now we are stuck with him to pitch Game 5. I think it is important to make a plan and live with it. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, well, you know, you had a plan. You had a reason to do it. It is not like you wake up in the morning saying, I think I will try this. You stay with a plan. You put enough time into it. It is sort of like hitting. You get up there and you have a plan to hit against certain pitchers, all of a sudden first pitch is a breaking ball and it changes your mind, now you are going to do something different. Good hitters don't do that. They stay with their plan, because it took them a long time to come up with a plan, but one pitch shouldn't change that. I think that those two things are very similar. You have got to have enough confidence in your ability to make a plan and then just stay with it in spite of whatever goes on.

Q. In choosing Ledee, is there kind of a feeling that maybe a young guy won't feel as much pressure in a game like this, doesn't have much time to think about it?

JOE TORRE: You know, it could go one way or the other. Young guy, obviously you know, whatever he gives us is a bonus. To me, you take what a young kid can give you. He is not in the middle of the lineup, he is not batting third or fourth. Go out there and play the best you can and hopefully it is good enough. Again, with Ledee, he is on our roster and since I have tried everybody else out in left field, I just thought we would give it a shot. The kid has ability. He had more at-bats during the regular season then Spencer did. So hopefully we get -- I don't want to say lucky, but hopefully it was the right move.

Q. Was there ever anything a fan said to you or a fan could say to you that distracted you from going out there, the words that --

JOE TORRE: Well, you are human, Steve, and it is tough to not feel it or hear it, acknowledging it, I think opens up that they got you. I remember during the '72 season half, leading the league in '71, and being one of the upfront guys in the strike, in '72, I was booed opening day and it bothered me very much in St. Louis. Looking back at it, in essence I started pressing. I don't think I have got -- you get angry every once in a while, you tell somebody to shut up or whatever. But to me it is acknowledgment. If you acknowledge that it bothers you, I think you are letting them in. But there are a lot of times you really have to bite the bullet, because you are human. You hear it and probably the fewer the people that are in the stands, the easier it is to hear somebody. When you have 50, 60,000 people, you are not going to hear it as readily as someone yelling out there. I remember years ago in San Diego, I had made two errors on two plays I was playing third base and somebody kept calling me a hamburger out there and by about the third error I was starting to get hungry (Laughter.). But, there are like a handful of people in the ballpark and you are going to hear those people. I think tonight, sure you will -- somebody will be agitating, they will boo or scream or yell, but again, you are not going to hear the individual comments unless you are warming up in the bullpen where they have more access to you.

End of FastScripts….

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