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October 8, 2007

Joe Torre


JOE TORRE: First, let me say I want to congratulate Eric Wedge and just the way he turned that ballclub around and they were tough. They were tough, you know, you make a mistake, they beat your brains out, and that's what happened to us.

Q. Joe, what happened to Wang?
JOE TORRE: Well, you know, I wasn't comfortable watching him. It just looked like his stuff was good, just from the velocity he looked like he was throwing the ball hard. But he got hurt balls up. Usually you tell early with him. If he can get the ball down. They start beating it into the ground. But they didn't hit a lot of groundballs.

Q. Could you just describe some of your emotions watching that ninth inning, with all that's gone on this season, and just these last couple days as well?
JOE TORRE: Well, I bury myself in my players. And I just finished telling them how proud I am of what they did. I mean, they dug themselves out of a hole. They learned how to be a team. They did a lot of very positive things. I know we all get judged on how it ends up, but there's so much that goes on between start and the finale that sometimes you forget about it because you get caught up in the result.
This ballclub, they have a great future. The young kids who came down the pike here, it's something different for the Yankees. You know, there's no question that the quality, not only the ability, but the quality of the people is very impressive.

Q. You just mentioned the future of these kids, and it's not a particularly easy question to ask, but would you like to be part of their future? Do you want to come back? Do you have any sense what's next for you?
JOE TORRE: I mean, I'm not going there. This has been a great 12 years. Whatever the hell happens from here on out, I mean, I'll look back on these 12 years with great, great pleasure, based on the fact that I'm a kid who had never been to the World Series, other than watching my brother play in the '50s, and paying for tickets otherwise. To have been in six World Series and going to postseason, I can tell you one thing, it never gets old. It never gets old. It's exciting. The 12 years just felt like they were ten minutes long, to be honest with you.

Q. When you spoke with Veras in the eighth and you lifted him, there was a segment of the crowd that was shouting your name, and when you went back to the dugout, you could acknowledge it at that point.
JOE TORRE: I was hoping I'd be able to go out there for a couple more times. Not for that, just to keep the game going longer. You certainly can't ignore it. These fans are very special. They're certainly very special. I mean, you can feel their heartbeat. Not hear it, you can feel their heartbeat.
I remember I think it was the San Diego Padres and they came in here in '98, and they looked up and they said, wow, these people are right on top of you, which I thought was a good clue for us. These fans are special. They're very knowledgeable, they know their stuff, and they never quit on you. You know, they let you know when they don't like what they see, but that's certainly within their rights.

Q. When you look back on the first five years and the last seven years from a baseball point of view, is there anything about the first five years that made those teams play so well in October, and the last seven, and you know, any component of the team, style of offense, anything?
JOE TORRE: There's a lot of luck in short series. I mean, if we go back to '96 and, you know, we lose the first game decidedly to Texas, and we come out here in the second game, and if it doesn't start raining, who knows what happens in that game. We wind up getting the ball thrown away. It slipped out of somebody's hand, and Dean Palmer, I think it was. You know, then we got ourselves on a roll.
Momentum is so important. I know we went through that streak of winning consecutive games in the World Series and stuff. It's a great accomplishment, yes. But as a manager you never want to lose the trump card. You never want to lose the momentum. And I just feel it's necessary. I remember in '04, which was a horrible memory, but going into the eighth inning of Game 4, even though we were up three games to none, knowing I wanted to win right now because you just don't want to let that get away from you. And we brought Mo in in the eighth, and it just wasn't to be, as it turned out.

Q. In those first two innings you had five guys on base and only got one run out of it. Looking back do you think you could have gotten more out of there, and that might have put you in a hole, maybe?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, we kept fighting at them. We kept going at them, we kept going at them. I think if you look back, aside from the home runs we hit, as I said. Yesterday was a good game for us, because we did it with everything but, you know. We just haven't been able to get the one hit that seemed to get us over the hump. Derek got a base hit with two out. But we just haven't been able to manufacture like we did most of the year.
But again, you have to understand when you get to postseason, things happen. Like Johnny Damon making that play on Blake, you know. You get the best players, you've got the best teams. And when you think of squandered opportunity, it's based on the fact that the other team's pretty good.

Q. What do you plan to do the next few days?
JOE TORRE: Spend some time at home. You know, enjoy the things I don't get a chance to once this grind starts. It's usually decompress time. I usually do that. And I would appreciate it if we had no vigil sitting outside my home, like we've had in the last couple of years. You guys have me here, whatever you want, I'm here for you. You know, but I appreciate the privacy.

Q. You and Wedge have been so complimentary of each other all series. I was wondering what you thought of his sticking to his guns and putting Byrd out there today, and how it worked out, really basically for his eyes?
JOE TORRE: You know, the thing about this game is there are a lot of people that have an opinion, and that's what makes the game great. That's what makes the game great. Everybody thinks that not that they could do a better job, but they have a better idea. But the manager's really the only guy that knows the quality of his people. Not only the ability of the people, but the quality of the person. And you trust people with certain situations.
Eric Wedge is a fine young manager. We talked a little bit this spring and I complimented him on last year, and I said, you're going to learn from that. Not that he did anything wrong. It's just when your ballclub sort of tries to stop the slide, it becomes very difficult. But he certainly didn't take any negatives into the clubhouse with him. He's a special kid.

Q. The finality, obviously, sometimes hits you later, but can you just describe what it was like walking up the tunnel? Did it hit you that it's over?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, it's such an empty feeling. There's no question, whether it happens in this or in the World Series. You think it's going to last forever. You understand a five-game series is a crap shoot, basically.
What I take a great deal of solace in, I guess, is just how badly the players want this. You know, whatever line of work you're in, when you're responsible for players or if you have children growing up, and you know, maybe some of them will make A's, others will make C's, but they work their ass off either way and you hug them. And that's basically the way I feel about those guys.

Q. About Wang's performance tonight, do you think that's because of his inexperience of the playoffs?
JOE TORRE: I think last year he won Game 1 for us against Detroit. Unfortunately it turned out the only game we won.
No, Wang is great. As far as pitching on three days, that would have affected him later on; it wouldn't have affected him that early in the game. He just didn't locate it, and this ballclub will let you know if you don't locate the ball.
And I told him, by the way, when I took him out before he went up the runway, I just said, "Don't ever let this affect what you accomplish this year. You should be very proud of it." You know, winning 19 ballgames in this town for this club, and doing it with the class that he does it, it is pretty special.

Q. Your pitching staff looks so much different right now than you thought it would in spring training. Can you compare what the season has been like managing to the other 11?
JOE TORRE: Each one takes on a life of its own, there is no question. When you bury yourself in your work, which I'm lucky enough to be able to do, and get the opportunity to do, it's sort of like putting a puzzle together. I can't say enough about my coaching staff. If I ever find myself getting lazy, just the stuff they bring to the table all the time certainly keeps your attention. But the way this ballclub changed from like going in a number of different directions to all of a sudden, you know, finding each other and I don't want to say literally holding hands, but they fought back into contention based on the fact that they understood it was going to be a lot of hard work, and they were going to get dirty along the way, and maybe have to do some things they're not crazy about doing. But I think they made that commitment and it was a great feeling for me to watch it happen.

Q. If not here, Joe, do you want to manage somewhere else?
JOE TORRE: Oh, it's too early. Not in the next three days, anyway (smiling). Let's see what happens in the next few days, and, you know, whatever comes next, you know, if I have some options, I'll look at it because I'm certainly not ready to move somewhere and not do anything, I can tell you that.

Q. Would you talk about the Indians' bullpen and what they did to you?
JOE TORRE: They're very, very impressive. Very impressive. The lefties and righties they bring out of there, and Borowski, obviously, they came in there in the ninth inning and sort of have a memory of what we did to them earlier in the year. I thought he held it together, and did a good job. But they have great balance out of that bullpen. They've got some young kids that are going to give the Red Sox some problems, because they can switch back and forth, and they're very aggressive, and they throw hard. And, again, they're not afraid to throw strikes. I'm very impressed with what they've done over there.

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