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October 23, 2011

Joe Torre


JOE TORRE: I want to say something first, the reason I'm in here, because it's not like I miss managing and I miss seeing you guys, trust me. (Laughter).
Last night with the missed play at first base, and I was in there when the pool reporter was asking questions of Ron Kulpa. You know, he asked a question about being from St. Louis, and I don't know if he alluded to the fact that he was a St. Louis fan and asked if that entered into his decision-making. I didn't say anything last night because I just stayed out of there, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, first off, I've gotten to know the umpires over the last few years of my managing career, and since I've been in this job, I've gotten to know them on more of a human side. And the one thing I can tell you, are they going to miss plays? Sure, they're going to miss plays. Are they going to miss pitches? Sure, they're going to miss pitches. But last night that question hinted of questioning somebody's integrity. That was so far over the line that -- I didn't know the gentleman who was in there, and I didn't know if this was his question or somebody suggested that he ask it so I didn't say anything last night. But I just want to say right now that these guys were so excited about being chosen for the World Series, and it's all about showing everybody how good they are at doing their job, and to have that question be asked, I just thought was over the line. And I just felt, whether it's Ron Kulpa or Jerry Layne or Joe West or Angel Hernández or Andy Fletcher, everybody is out there trying to do the best job they can.
And as far as the -- anything other than missing a play, because we're human and we're not always going to get things right, whether it's in our professional life or our personal life, I just want to make sure that if you have any integrity questions in the future, please direct them to me.

Q. Every time there's a highly visible missed play circumstance, there are inevitably calls for expanded replay. Is that a real possibility, or should we just drop it?
JOE TORRE: Well, I'd say drop it, but I don't want people to think that we're stubborn about this. You know, I'm on the committee. Before I was in this position I was on a committee along with Tony and Jimmy Leyland and Mike Scioscia to talk about stuff like this. There are pluses and minuses about replay, and when you see a play like last night all you have to do is show it and you'll see he missed that, and it's simple and it's simple to make that decision. But in saying that, it doesn't mean we're not going to listen, not going to watch and not make adjustments as we feel fit, that we feel it'll apply.
Our game doesn't stop. In between innings it does, but for replays to show, you have to stop the guy. You have a pitcher standing on the mound, you have a hitter. And to me, wholesale replay, I think is going to disrupt the flow of the game. That's just my opinion. Am I old school? Yeah, I am old school, but I'm not ignoring the new technology that's available to us, and we're going to do everything we can to make the game better.
But as I say, with the umpires and our postseason this year as far as I'm concerned, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm here, it's just that the umpires, the thing I have found is that every -- and I had the pleasure of calling the six umpires that were chosen for the World Series to tell them, and each and every one of them were thrilled. Families involved last night. We had a tunnel full of families that came to be a part of the umpires' experience, and that was special to me. We'll look at it and we'll listen, and we'll try to do the sensible thing.

Q. Aside from the replays, would you like to see the umpires have more huddles or conferences if there's a close call?
JOE TORRE: We have encouraged the umpires to confer with each other, and from my experience this year, and obviously I haven't seen every single game, I get reports on every game, they have asked for help in certain areas where they have been blocked out or they didn't totally see the play or they thought that they could have gotten help from somewhere. And trust me, the other guys in the group, if they feel that -- and I know, here's my boy Bruce over here and Randy, if another umpire sees something maybe that he didn't see, they're going to make a gesture of some kind to let that umpire know that maybe we should talk about it, okay.
So umpires have had conferences. There have been some objections by some of the managers because, you know, when you get the old-school managers, they're saying, well, you missed the play, you missed the play; that's the way it goes. So we've heard it from both sides.
But yes, the answer to your question is yes. We have encouraged the umpires, and the umpires have, just from my experience this year, done a lot of trying to get it right in calls that may have been seen by somebody else a little bit better.

Q. Could you just have it if there's a close call that automatically they have to huddle?
JOE TORRE: Well, again, we're stopping the game again. Last night was just unusual. I can tell you one thing: Ron Kulpa came in, and I was in the umpires' dressing room afterwards, and he walked in, and the first thing out of his mouth, he had to see the play. He said, "I missed it, did I miss it?" I'm sure he hears the fans booing after the inning, and they're very conscientious.
As I say, I'm not a fan of a lot of replay, but again, I certainly can change my mind if I think it makes sense.

Q. Do you think that there's a consensus among the umpires as far as their attitude toward replay? Some of them have expressed a desire to have that tool. And how much would that weigh into this equation?
JOE TORRE: Well, we certainly listen to the umpires. I know I do, and when we had the Commissioner's committee, we were in Arizona, we had several umpires -- in fact, Jerry Layne, who is a part of this group, and Randy was there, also, Randy Marsh, we listened to what not necessarily their concerns are, but their opinions.
So again, you have 68 umpires. They're all not going to be thinking the same way, so we have to -- somebody has to make a decision on what we're going to do. But we certainly do consider the umpires' feelings on that because they're the ones that are going to be asked to go look at this thing and change it if it needs to be changed.

Q. Do you think there's a majority of them who feel one way or the other?
JOE TORRE: I don't know, what do you think, Randy? I don't think so.
RANDY MARSH: Not yet, no. There are some that have expressed -- nobody wants to be embarrassed. Some say, maybe we should just give it to them. That's the smaller percentage at this point.
JOE TORRE: But I want to say something, and this is not conferring with anybody on this: I don't want umpires to think because they have replay that they don't have to work hard, you know. I think they work their tails off. I've spent a lot of times in the umpires' rooms, and of course I kid with them because a number of them throw me out of ballgames, but the one thing I have sensed is first off the focus, the excitement. We had a young umpire come in off the field after being in postseason for the first time just -- you know, he was three feet off the ground because he just felt he had a real good game behind the plate. And that's -- I mean, that's what you want. You want the enthusiasm, and sure, a number of them have been around for a long, long time and maybe it's a little more blasé or maybe they make it appear a little more blasé, but each one of them I have met has certainly a great deal of pride in what they do. I don't think anybody feels worse than they do when they miss a play that certainly is significant.

Q. There are some people who say and contend that it would not slow down the game, that in the time it takes for say Mike Napoli and Ron Washington to come out of the dugout and argue, that in that minute you could look at the replay and if it was conclusive get the right answer. I'm wondering would that not be more beneficial than having a call that millions of fans can see was wrong and having the game going on?
JOE TORRE: That's certainly legitimate. That question is certainly legitimate, but they're not all going to be that clear-cut. Again, it's still not going to keep the manager from arguing, it's not going to keep the player from arguing before you go to replay.
What you just asked me there, yeah, I mean, that's -- we've sort of, you know, questioned each other about the pluses and minuses on situations and replay usage.

Q. Did you --
JOE TORRE: Now, if he passes me in postseason wins, I'm going to start managing again. (Laughter).

Q. When you heard this integrity question last night, how did Ron react to it? And did you guys discuss it afterwards?
JOE TORRE: Well, I don't think we discussed -- I discussed it. I thought it was over the line, and Ron answered the question nervously. I mean, because he knows where he's from, and he knows he was probably a Cardinal fan growing up. But that's the last thing that was on his mind when he called the runner safe at first base. I mean, let's admit it, if you go 48 hours earlier, he made a tough call at second base and got it right on calling Kinsler safe. The Cardinals were leading 1-0 at the time.
As I say, you know, he has his family here, he's proud of what he does, but he was uncomfortable when they asked the question. Even though he didn't turn around and walk away, he answered it because he knew he had to just stand there and take whatever was dealt to him.

Q. We know that obviously pace of game is an important issue for the Commissioner's Office. Is there anything besides slowing down of the game standing in the way of additional replay?
JOE TORRE: Well, that's part of it. To me it's more the flow as opposed to how long it takes. I mean, just the game has a certain rhythm to it that you don't really want to disrupt on a regular basis. Last night we had a four-hour game but we had 20 runs scored in four innings. You could see the excuse. I think the only one that get everybody's attention, I said we had a four-hour game last night and the Yankees and Red Sox weren't included. That's part of it. But as I say, we're certainly not going to close the door on making this game better, having the fans enjoy it more. That's all I can tell you. I'm available individually or whatever if you want to talk more about it.
But we're going to do -- our game is very popular. I took this job with the Commissioner because it was baseball. It's something I played for 16, 17 years, managed for well over 20 years, and it's really the only thing I've ever done in my life professionally. I'm very proud of everything that's gone on, the number of people that still come out and get excited about it. I know other sports are faster and quicker and probably beat each other up a little bit more, but we're pretty proud of what we do here, and I certainly feel a part of it.

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