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October 11, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. Would you give us an update on Mariano, how he is, where he is and how he is?

JOE TORRE: I have not talked to Mariano since early Sunday morning. He and Clara went yesterday to Panama, and our understanding, even though we don't have anything official, is that the funeral would be tomorrow. You know, I told Mariano at the time this whole thing happened and knowing he would have to go to Panama, that, you know, you do what you need to do and when you get back, obviously we'll welcome you back. So we're -- I don't want to say he's going to be back tomorrow and the only reason I don't want to say that, if for some reason he gets hung up there, you know, I just don't want that to happen. So if he's here tomorrow, obviously it would be wonderful. If he's not, then we understand that, you know; he has to deal with some issues. So it obviously puts a damper on what he accomplished the other day because you realize you put in perspective that we're playing merely a game at this point in time. So, again, that's as much as I know, and if he is not here tomorrow and we're in a position to save the game, it will be Tom Gordon.

Q. If the funeral is tomorrow and I guess you're assuming that Mariano is going to attend the funeral --


Q. -- how can he possibly make it?

JOE TORRE: Planning or not, if he walks in the clubhouse, fine. We certainly don't lay out a plan, we get to late in a game and you know Mariano is not here, obviously we know what we're going to do, we would -- I let the players know exactly what I've told you; that when he gets back, he gets back. You certainly don't want somebody to have a letdown if you say he's going to be here tomorrow and he's not here. We're just going to go with what we know and we're not going to know he's going to be here until he gets here.

Q. How complicated is it to go into a series like this with the uncertainty about Mariano, whether he's 100% mentally or not?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, we do the best we can. We certainly don't want to think if things don't go well for us that this is the reason it didn't go well. There are a lot of teams and a lot of players that, unbeknownst to any of us, that probably have had to deal with things at one time or another. Unfortunately, I know Mariano wanted to -- this is a private matter for him, but he's a very public person, so it's really tough to not be aware and be concerned and all of that stuff.

Q. You've been on the tough end of a Curt Schilling dominating a post-season seven-game series; how much does he bring to them and can he tip the balance in their favor?

JOE TORRE: Well, we know, and we've done it for years, control the game with your pitching. When you send a Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez or, you know, Wakefield for that matter, not to bypass Arroyo, it's how they pitch that particular day. Obviously we are sending Moose out there with a great deal of confidence, and the way -- again, you don't think in terms of beating Schilling. You just think in terms of staying with him and hopefully by the time the game is over, you've found a way to get things done.

Q. With Mariano, is this as simple as if he shows up, he's pitching, or do you need to see his eyes, talk to him, see where he is before you even know if he's able to pitch on that particular day?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think that's why, you know even though he's here in person, you're not sure where he is emotionally. You know, he's as good as anybody that I've seen that's been able to shut things out, but this thing happened so sudden and so recent that I don't think there's any guarantees.

Q. A number of subplots and story lines, but can you just speak to the match-up between the two teams from a baseball standpoint, it's as evenly-matched as you've been.

JOE TORRE: It's interesting, we spent the morning with scouting reports and as they start talking, you shake your head. It's nothing foreign to us. We've seen them 19 times, and we know that they manhandled us early. From that point on, it was a dogfight, basically. You know, what's interesting is you're not sure of what's going to be the determining factor. You go in and you look at it and try to figure it out on paper and you say, oh, this pitcher may have it over this pitcher and this match-up may be better in your favor, but so many of those things will be thrown out the window in this particular match-up as far as team match-up. You know, as much as you like to think about it as business as usual, there's so much emotion when you get to the post-season, and then when the Red Sox and the Yankees are involved, it just elevates that part of it.

Q. Do you expect to know anything more about El Duque's availability after today's bullpen?

JOE TORRE: I just came from the bullpen and Duque was much better. He will be a part of this roster this time around. We're going to go with Moose tomorrow and Jon Lieber in Game 2 and Browny will pitch Game 3, and Game 4 right now is uncertain.

Q. Does that mean the same roster as you had in the last series?


Q. And do you have a lineup?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I do. Just happened to bring it with me. Jeter, Rodriguez, Sheffield, Matsui, Bernie Williams and he'll play center field, Posada, Olerud, Cairo and Lofton; Lofton will DH.

Q. Any reason Lofton over Sierra?

JOE TORRE: Lofton has had some numbers against Curt Schilling. Again, you can't think of Curt Schilling as being, let's go beat his brains out, because you really have to do little things against both he and Pedro to try to get things done, there's no question.

Q. You were saying that a lot of times people have personal problems you never find out anything about, but going right back to the beginning with your brother, it seems like there has been some experience here, O'Neill's dad and your brother, there is some perspective here.

JOE TORRE: No question. I think with Mariano, if he's here, physically tomorrow, he'll say, "Give me the ball." I don't think there's any question. And whether it's 100 percent or 50 percent, it's still going to be pretty damned good. But you're right, the experience that we've had, and you know, not only Pauly's dad, we had Bernie Williams and Brosius's dad. We've gone down the road with this as other people have on different teams, and we've been, I don't know if the expression would be pretty good, because that certainly shouldn't go in this case. But we've been pretty tough, I guess, in situations like this.

Q. How different, if at all, is Curt Schilling this time around than when you've faced him in the World Series three years ago?

JOE TORRE: Well, he elevates his game, there's no question. He elevates his game. We watched him pitch against Anaheim, and he certainly has had practice on the big stage. You know, they stopped our streak of three straight championships back in 2001, both he and the Big Unit and they certainly earned the fact that they beat us, because they battled their tails off. So, it may be a situation, I mean, you watch Roger Clemens, gutted out three, five innings yesterday, certainly not his best stuff, but you look on if those numbers are right, throws it 94 miles an hour. So there's something that gets into the great ones at this time of year that you know you have to deal with, but again, going in, you have to make sure that you don't become a fan all of a sudden and just admire what he's doing. You have to do something about it.

Q. I know in title post-season games you're focused on much more than one player, but can you talk about what went through your mind when you saw the things A-Rod did in the clutch against Minnesota and how happy are you that he wound up on this side of the rivalry?

JOE TORRE: Well, we certainly needed him to be that for us. Sandwiched again Derek and Gary, he can make so many things happen, because he possesses, you know, so much ability in every aspect of the game, that doing what he did the other day is certainly, you know, within his ability. Not everybody can do what he does. I mean, every dimension. It was something that he had a sense when you -- you could see just when he went up to the box to hit and the batter's circle, there was that look in his eye. Doesn't mean he's going to get a hit. He could have hit the ball and Koskie could have backhanded the ball and you never hear from him again for three innings. When he got on base, it just looked like he had a determination that something was going to happen. And as far as being on the other side of the ball, I said at the time he happened, he did not get with Boston, but if Boston had him, they wouldn't have Manny, so, you flip the coin, you tell me. Manny's not too bad. So I felt Boston elevated their ball club with the acquisition of the pitching, and that certainly is why they are as -- they have been as dominant as they have been.

Q. When you look at Tom Gordon, how do you think he's going to handle the spot he's potentially being put in, and if you could talk to his importance in this series in general, even if he's just your set-up man?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, just my set-up man is a pretty good situation. I'm not concerned about Gordon. You know, obviously we talked today and I mentioned the fact of, you know, we're unsure about Mo's availability tomorrow. You know, he didn't do anything other than give me that businesslike look with a great deal of passion in it. He's so much like what Mo was for us back in '96, you know, to get to Wetteland at that time, that he's so dominant. He's been so dominant, and the reason we've had the year we've had especially with all of the question marks that have been raised about our pitching, it was basically because, you know, he kept Mo out of the eighth inning just about all year long. So whether he's closing or setting up, he knows how important it is. He pitched those two innings the other day that he may not pitch two more important innings than Saturday afternoon.

Q. Curious, one of the underlying themes is sort of the button-down Yankees against the Delta House Red Sox type squad; does that play any role in the rivalry in this series?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. It's a personality, they are pretty much free-wheeling. They have always been that way, in my nine years here, they have been the same type of club. You know, to give you another perspective, during my playing days, we would go to Winter Haven, it would be the same atmosphere. I don't think that's ever changed; that's what they have been. They have been a very talented group of people. To me, if you try to figure it out and why they haven't won a World Series or gotten into the World Series every time, it's just a lack of depth in their pitching staff, which they do have right now. As far as the way we do things and the way we do things, when it comes down to winning games, it's pretty similar. You do have to call on the resources that make you want it bad enough and I think you'll find two clubs that sort of match up pretty well.

Q. With all of the comeback victories that you've had some year, would you say this team is any different technically or in personality than the teams the last few years?

JOE TORRE: Well, I'd hate to think that last year's clubs would not be characterized as not winning, getting to the World Series and getting to Game 6. I'll settle right now, here we are. This ball club I think established themselves early on. Normally when you bring so many high-profile people together it takes a little longer, but I think we got a wake-up call when we didn't play well early and nobody performed well. It was, you know, it was a time to look around and either trust or go home. Basically, these guys looked to each other and got the support they needed. The new guys in this clubhouse really hear about a lot of things that go on here as far as the personality we take on, but sometimes it takes them a little longer. It took Justice a little longer. It took Roger a little longer. I think it caught on real quick in May or so that we needed to go out there and just forget about everything else and just play hard and don't worry about what to say. The media plays a big part in what happens in New York and Boston. Because I guess in our case, we've won so often and the expectations are so high, sometimes people try to reach heights that they are not capable of and that's what I sensed early on. But this ball club is as tough as any club I've ever managed here for the nine years I've been here, and we have a little more thump than we've had in the nine years, and that's saying something without Jason. But we have a pretty versatile club where they can put the ball in play and get some sneak stealing in there and they pretty much know how to play the game. They don't take anything for granted.

Q. Do these games against Boston, looking back at what's happened afterwards in the World Series over the last year, drain both teams just physically and emotionally by the end?

JOE TORRE: Oh, there's no question. Last year, it was an incredible roller coaster ride. But every single game is one you have to forget the next day, whether you win it in the last at-bat or get your brains beat out or beat their brains out. It certainly doesn't give you a free meal for the next game. You've got to go out there and start all over again. Every single game takes on it's own life. It is draining, there's no question. You know, the Met World Series was very draining. That World Series -- you normally should enjoy the World Series more than we enjoyed the Met World Series until it was over. But to get to the World Series and play against the team you've played 19 times and knowing the history of the two ballclubs, yeah, you realize what's at stake every inning of every game. That's why it takes a lot of preparation emotionally and mentally to make sure that you try to keep it in perspective as far as playing the game and not losing sight of, say, how badly you need this. You just have to have that carry you through.

Q. You mentioned a couple of questions ago that you would settle right now --

JOE TORRE: You mean get to the World Series? Losing in Game 6? No, I wouldn't settle for losing in Game 6. I'm sorry. I misspoke. I misspoke.

Q. Maybe the series meant so much to you that you were just so desperate to get there and be happy to lose --

JOE TORRE: Well, first off, let me say this, let me say this. I'll give you perspective on it. You'd much rather be sitting in the losing dugout in the World Series than watching it on television. All right? Is that enough perspective? All right. Let me see how that comes out. (Laughter.)

Q. You obviously grew up with the Dodger/Giants rivalry but some people take more of a cynical view of sports because of the money involved. In that context do you think to have a rivalry like this one as real and as intense as it is, is good for sports?

JOE TORRE: Oh, I certainly think so. It's baseball. It's the love of the game, it's the need to go on, and I grew up with the Dodger/Giants series. I hated the Dodgers even though I lived in Brooklyn which wasn't safe to do because I was a Giants fan. It was on 12 months a year and you were arguing with your friends and it was an intensity. Jackie Robinson was traded to the Giants and then quit, all right, that gives you an idea that that's the last thing he wanted to do. Sal Maglie was with both clubs. It certainly takes on every bit of that rivalry for me.

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