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The Yankee Years [Hardcover]

Joe Torre , Tom Verducci
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 3 2009

Twelve straight playoff appearances. Six American League pennants. Four World Series titles. This is the definitive story of a dynasty: the Yankee years

When Joe Torre took over as manager of the New York Yankees in 1996, the most storied franchise in sports had not won a World Series title in eighteen years. The famously tough and mercurial owner, George Steinbrenner, had fired seventeen managers during that span. Torre’s appointment was greeted with Bronx cheers from the notoriously brutal New York media, who cited his record as the player and manager who had been in the most Major League games without appearing in a World Series

Twelve tumultuous and triumphant years later, Torre left the team as the most beloved and successful manager in the game. In an era of multimillionaire free agents, fractured clubhouses, revenue-sharing, and off-the-field scandals, Torre forged a team ethos that united his players and made the Yankees, once again, the greatest team in sports. He won over the media with his honesty and class, and was beloved by the fans.

But it wasn’t easy.

Here, for the first time, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci take us inside the dugout, the
clubhouse, and the front office in a revelatory narrative that shows what it really took to keep the Yankees on top of the baseball world. The high-priced ace who broke down in tears and refused to go back to the mound in the middle of a game. Constant meddling from Yankee executives, many of whom were jealous of Torre’s popularity. The tension that developed between the old guard and the free agents brought in by management. The impact of revenue-sharing and new scouting techniques, which allowed other teams to challenge the Yankees’ dominance. The players who couldn’t resist the after-hours temptations of the Big Apple. The joys of managing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the challenges of managing Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Torre’s last year, when constant ultimatums from the front office, devastating injuries, and a freak cloud of bugs on a warm September night in Cleveland forced him from a job he loved.

Through it all, Torre kept his calm, kept his players’ respect, and kept winning.

And, of course, The Yankee Years chronicles the amazing stories on the diamond. The stirring comeback in the 1996 World Series against the heavily favored Braves. The wonder of 1998, when Torre led the Yanks to the most wins in Major League history. The draining and emotional drama of the 2001 World Series. The incredible twists and turns of the epic Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, in which two teams who truly despised each other battled pitch by pitch until the stunning extra-inning home run.

Here is a sweeping narrative of Major League Baseball in the Yankee era, a book both grand in its scope and fascinating in its details.


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Review

“One of the best books about baseball ever written.”—New York Daily News 

"An insightful and non-hagiographic look at a legendary manager and team during one of baseball's most transformational eras."--Boston Globe
  
"The consummate insider's view of what may be the last great dynasty in baseball history."--Los Angeles Times
 
"An appealing portrait of a likable, hard-working man. One closes the book with a high regard for Mr. Torre, not least as a manager."--Wall Street Journal
 
"A lively chronicle. . . . What this book does . . . very persuasively is chart the rise and fall of one of baseball's great dynasties, while showing the care and feeding it took to bring the city of New York four championships in five years." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
"A capacious fresh account of [Torre’s] great run in the Bronx.... Verducci has range and ease; he's a shortstop on the page." —The New Yorker
 
"Compelling. . . . A hybrid of insider reporting [and] autobiography." —The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Fascinating reading.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Filled with] many insights, some about human nature, many about the great American game.” —Bloomberg News


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joe Torre played for the Braves, the Cardinals, and the Mets before managing all three teams. From 1996 to 2007, Torre managed the New York Yankees. He is currently the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing book March 12 2009
By Marc Ranger TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is very dissapointing because if you happened to follow the Yankee regularly between 1996 to 2007, you'll learn next to nothing.
The question of trust between Torre and his players, between Torre and management is central to the book, so central in fact it's like a song played over and over again.

Spend your money on some other baseball book.
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By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
At first glance it seemed strange that when "Sports Illustrated" published an excerpt from this book in a recent issue that it was the final chapter of "The Yankee Years." But now that I have read the book it makes sense because from start to finish the punchline that the Yankees let Joe Torre walk away from the job of managing the team pretty much overshadows everything that happens. It is like there is a subliminal message behind every success Torre had on the field that whispers to the reader "Can you believe they would ever fire this guy?" I started rooting for the New York Yankees in 1965, and for those of you without an encyclopedic recollection of the history of the team that was the year they stopped winning World Championships until George Steinbrenner bought the team from CBS and started playing his own peculiar brand of money ball. When Torre was hired to manage the Yankees I did not think it was necessarily a bad move, but I certainly did not think it was a great move. Any doubt that it was the right man in the right place at the right time, was removed years ago and "The Yankee Years" only confirms what seems obvious to everybody in baseball. It also reinforces the idea that the aforementioned punchline is not even remotely funny.

Joe Torre's name comes before Tom Verducci's and there is no doubt as to which of them has the greater cachet (I was always suprised that he was not the first manager that McFarlane Toys put out as an action figure in their quest to have at least one Yankee in each and every series). But "The Yankee Years" is much more Verducci's book; he is the one telling the story and making the arguments, with Torre providing period commentary.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you are a Yankee fan, this is must reading. If you are a Red Sox fan, you may enjoy the book more than you think. If you are a Rays fan, it will give you hope. If you are a Dodger fan, it will add to your admiration for Joe Torre.

I admire Joe Torre and as a life-long Dodger fan was thrilled when he came to Chavez Ravine to manage. I wasn't surprised when the Dodgers made the playoffs. It's a big loss for the Yankees, but the miracle is that Torre was willing to put up with the Yankee ownership and leadership so long.

I also live in Boston and usually don't miss a pitch of any Red Sox-Yankee games. I was pleasantly surprised to see that The Yankee Years explores the underlying reasons why the rivalry went from being one that the Yankees comfortably dominated to one that has more recently favored the Red Sox. Just to give you a sense of how seriously people in Boston take the rivalry, I was stopped several times as I walked down the street carrying this book by people belligerently asking me if I was a Yankee fan.

Although the Yankees are the subject here, the book spends a lot of time on the newer ways of picking free agents, the effects of the luxury tax and subsidy to the small-market teams, better ways to develop players, steroids and HGH, and other general baseball subjects. For someone who isn't a Yankee fan, this made the book more interesting. If you are Yankee fan, you probably won't think it's all so great since much of it points out weaknesses in the Yankees.

Although I don't read the New York baseball reports columns, I was surprised to see that the book contained very little information about the Yankees that wasn't covered in Boston.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  220 reviews
134 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look at America's game Feb. 3 2009
By Julie Neal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am not a Yankee fan. I am not a Red Sox fan. I have no dog in this fight.

Now, with that out of the way, I hope you'll give me a fair shake at this.

My opinion: this is a good read, at times even gripping. Its value lies beyond what gossip it contains about A-Rod or how it gets back at the Steinbrenners. It's an inside look at how baseball has changed, in ways that are often not that good.

I thought The Yankee Years would be a routine behind-the-scenes tell-all, but its ambitions are bigger. It chronicles the end of an era in baseball, a more innocent time before steroid scandals, big money and executive decisions based on advanced statistical analysis.

This is not a Joe Torre memoir. Torre provides his voice and viewpoint throughout the book, but Verducci also quotes dozens and dozens of other key personalities. He weaves it all into a fascinating narrative that covers all the highs and lows of the Yankee's dynasty years.

The book throws a spotlight on many key players from this era. Some shine, others don't. David Cone, Mike Mussina and Derek Jeter shine. Jeter, in particular, impresses throughout with his sunny optimism and quiet leadership. If you weren't a Jeter fan before, you will be after reading it.

There has been a lot of buzz about Torre dissing players in these pages. The "A-Fraud" reference to Alex Rodriguez is a throwaway reference to what guys in the clubhouse -- not Torre -- called A-Rod in 2004, about how the player tried to fit in during his first season as a Yankee. "People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel, were calling him `A-Fraud' behind his back." Instead, Torre offers his clear-eyed assessment of Rodriguez as a player who can't succeed as a team player because of his fear of failure. "There's a certain free-fall you have to go through," he says, "when you commit yourself without a guarantee that it's always going to be good. There's a sort of trust, a trust and commitment thing that has to allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be embarrassed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And sometimes players aren't willing to do that."

It's almost biblical the way it all ends. A cloud of midges on a hot Cleveland night dooms the Yankees in a key playoff game. Thousands of the irritating insects descend on the mound, thoroughly rattling the pitcher. Bug spray makes the torment worse, not better. This perfect swarm seals Torre's fate. He leaves the Yankees not long after the loss, after a painful 10-minute meeting where he realizes his own personal Judas is his long-time general manager, Brian Cashman. "Cashman had retreated to silence with Torre's job on the line. The allies of Joe Torre had dwindled to zero."

Throughout the arc of this tale, Torre comes across as calm, determined and fair.

I should admit I do have a slight bias. When I was in junior high growing up outside St. Louis, Joe Torre taught me to play infield. He was playing third base for the Cardinals then. He appeared at the community center in my neighborhood outside the city one day and gave a handful of us kids a free lesson. I'll never forget it; he was patient and explained the game in detail, like he actually cared that we understood it. I learned a lot in that hour, from a decent man.

Here's the chapter list:

1. Underdogs
2. A Desperation to Win
3. Getting an Edge
4. The Boss
5. Mystique and Aura
6. Baseball Catches Up
7. The Ghosts Make a Final Appearance
8. The Issues of Alex
9. Marching to Different Drumbeats
10. End of the Curse
11. The Abyss
12. Broken Trust
13. "We Have a Problem"
14. The Last Race
15. Attack of the Midges
16. The End
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves more than 5 stars.... Feb. 3 2009
By Robert Busko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci has received a large amount of pre-release press especially from the New York media, but also the L. A. Times. I can't remember a book release in the recent past that has garnered so much attention before anyone has had a chance to read it. Even Steinbrenner is curious about the books contents. He should be.

The Yankee Years is a measured and thoughtful look at the years Joe Torre managed the Yankees, 1996-2007. During that time he got to and won four World Series out of five, not an easy task for anyone. Torre also stopped much of the ridicule he received from the New York media upon his appointment. If winning four World Series doesn't prove you're worthy of the job, nothing else will. The fact of the matter is that Joe Torre became the most beloved Yankees managers of all time winning the respect of the fans and his players.....also not an easy task given the list of outstanding players he worked with.

Not being a part of professional sports means that most of us read these kinds of books with a fascination made up of a combination of awe and disgust. Our only window into professional sports is comprised of the media, written and electronic and then watching the games as they come to us, one after another as the season progresses. I say this, because that means books such as the Yankee Years become our "inside" story; our life line and private peek into the insanity of what has become "professional sports."

The Yankee Years has already aggravated several A-list players that are mentioned in the book. A-Rod, reportedly referred to as A-Fraud by his team mates, and David Wells just to name two people who may not be happy with the publication of The Yankee Years.

Well written and very readable, the Yankee Years is above all else interesting and will be a book any baseball fan will want to read regardless of your team affiliation. Let's face it, the Yankees are the most storied of professional baseball teams and reading about them interests us even if we aren't fans.

Joe Torre's The Yankee Years is worth reading. I highly recommend.

Peace
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as controversial as the media portrayed it Feb. 7 2009
By DangerousK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a lifelong Yankee fan I have to say that this book is absolutely invaluable because of all the information within. I'll be perfectly honest in saying that at the end of the 2007 season I thought it was time for Joe Torre to move on. My reasoning had more to do with maybe the team needing perhaps a new viewpoint from a manager. I know that it came with the price of the Yankees missing the postseason in 2008, and to be honest I was fine with that because it was something that I personally had been waiting for since the 2004 season. Joe just managed to stave off the eventual end of the Yankee postseason runs for a few more years and he did a hell of a job in spite of the parts he was given. After reading this book I will say that I'm very glad Joe didn't come back for the 2008 season with the Yankees because I think the unfair pressure on him would have continued, but it also brings up a complaint about the book which I will address at the end of the review.

The book is a very candid look at the Yankee run under Joe Torre from the 1996 thru 2007 seasons. It reads nicely, I've always been a huge fan of Tom Verducci's writings in Sports Illustrated and he doesn't fail to disappoint here. It's very nice to get a rare glimpse of the Yankee team behind closed doors and all of the problems that individual players brought to the team ranging from the moody Kevin Brown to the high maintenance Alex Rodriguez. In addition as others have mentioned the book does a wonderful job of detailing how MLB as a whole changed over the past 15 years thanks to the Yankee dominance during the Dynasty.

Now the excerpts released to the press prior to the publication of this book were designed to drum up interest, and it worked without a doubt. What I can say is that reading those excerpts within the context of the book as a whole, they really aren't that controversial. I was initially annoyed by what Torre said when I heard about it, but after reading the book, it brought me back to the times when some of the events occurred. To be honest, it wasn't really a big secret that David Wells was lazy, or that Kevin Brown was perpetually pissed off about something (and yes he could make your life miserable due to his attitude and frequent stints on the DL). Alex Rodriguez always was known as a high maintenance kind of guy. Joe Torre wasn't really dishing dirt in my opinion, but he was rather reinforcing what was already public knowledge. It is interesting to read what he had to say about different players, and I don't think any less of him for saying what he said.

Much like Buster Olney's book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty New Edition: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness, this book outlines many of the problems/mistakes the Yankees made in trying to continually win the World Series every single year. They missed completely what brought them the 4 World Series in 5 years, and they paid a price that most fans of other teams have not realized. Spending the money they did was not a guarantee of any championship and it was something I realized going back to the 2002 season. As a fan of the team, when they lost Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I felt the magic of what made those teams slip away, and I never have felt it since that night. Unfortunately the Yankee front office missed that completely and because of the greed they had to win, they haven't won since.

I don't really feel I can do justice to the book with a review, so what I can say is that every baseball fan whether a Yankee fan or Yankee hater or whatever else, should read this book. While about the Yankees, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from it. I also as a Yankee fan can only hope the front office reads this book and can truly understand where they went wrong. But knowing them, it wouldn't matter if they read this book. They probably still have no idea what they lost. In spite of looking forward to the 2009 MLB season, I'm dreading the Yankees aspect of it because the team did themselves no favors by creating even more expectations with the signings of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.

My only complaint with this book is that Joe Torre says he was willing to come back to the Yankees for the 2008 season with a 2nd year added to the contract. He discusses just how uncomfortable he was becoming with the overall situation, yet he would be ok with putting up with it for another year? Supposedly having a 2nd year would have made it easier to deal with managing even though the team could fire him at the end of the 1st year and made him a lame duck for the entire season? Sorry, I just found it to be a bit confusing logic.

Anyhow, that aside, it's a must read as I mentioned for all baseball fans and highly recommended!!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the juicy tell all that you are looking for Feb. 14 2009
By RW - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Of course I heard all the publicity about Joe Torre's new book and expected an insightful and thrilling tell-all. If you are any kind of fan and have read better books such as THE LAST NIGHT OF THE YANKEE DYNASTY by Buster Olney, you will find much of the information in this book repetitive and bland. Many of the pages recount scores and series and at bats which I believe can be a great back-drop to set up personalities integral to a deeper insight into the Yankees and the players Torre managed. That does not seem to be the case with this book and many of the pages were wasted with bland story-telling and things many fans may have already known.

The fact that Torre's name graces the cover of this book as an author is ridiculous. He was used as probably the primary source but the entire book was written by Verducci who just has numerous quotes from Torre with very few revolutionary thoughts on intriguing topics. The chapter on "A-Fraud" was somewhat interesting, but could have been much more-so had Torre written the book many of us thought he was writing. I could say the same for the steriods chapter entailing Roger Clemens friendship with Brian McNamee. Information about Kenny Lofton of all people was fairly intriguing, but overall I was surprised and somewhat shocked at how mundane and boring this book was. Perhaps I am a victim of the fact that I have read 10 baseball books a year with Olney's above mentioned one probably the best in the last several years.

If you are looking for a juicy tell-all like Canseco, this is not it. If you read only one baseball book a year, you might enjoy this and it is probably worth your time, but if you are familiar with the Yankee's and have done some reading, you can read at your own risk.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Verducci Years Feb. 12 2009
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I got off to a bad start with "The Yankee Years" when I spotted a factual error at the top of page two. Author Tom Verducci describes the 1995 Yankees as having blown a 2-1 lead in games to the Seattle Mariners in the American League Division Series. Well, that's technically accurate... as it is to say later that the Yanks blew a 3-2 lead to the Red Sox in 2004. Technically accurate, but still wrong.

After that, fortunately, it's smooth sailing. Just keep your expectations in check. This is NOT Joe Torre's comprehensive autobiography. This is not a blow-by-blow account of how Torre managed all those playoff games, and there's not a whole lot of actual scoops. This is simply Tom Verducci's biography of baseball in the early 21st century, in which Joe Torre's Yankees played a pivotal part.

Verducci uses Torre largely as on-the-record source material, and Torre's commentary improves a lot of Verducci's stories and relevations. News to me were the Yankees near-signing of Albert Belle in 1999 (thankfully they chose to retain Bernie Williams instead), and Billy Crystal's DVD roast sent to the team on the eve of the 2007 playoffs.

A large portion of this book has very little Torre at all. Verducci is most interested in two things: how steroids affected the game in the late '90s, and how the information revolution (and revenue sharing) helped close the gap between the Yankees and the rest of the American League after the 2000 World Series. The chapter on steroids and the chapter on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and its progeny have very little Torre in them. Other more comprehensive books exist on each subject, but Verducci does a good big-picture job of tying them into a larger theme -- how baseball corrected the spending gap caused by the Yankees' enormous wealth.

Other Yankees personnel and Torre admirers have large roles in the book. Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi and Larry Bowa evidently made themselves available for lengthy interviews, and their perspective is quoted throughout. Three rival general managers (Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Mark Shapiro) show their respect to Torre while at the same time explaining how they lapped Brian Cashman in the intelligence-gathering field.

Even if this is clearly Verducci's pet project, you still can't tell the story of baseball over the last 15 years without Joe Torre's blessing. Even as the 2001 - 2007 Yankees stacked up failure after playoff failure, even as their minor league pool dried up and their free agent picks got worse and worse (David Cone and Jimmy Key yield to Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa), Torre was still good for 100 wins a year.

The most original parts of "The Yankee Years" are the final few chapters, detailing the eclipse of George Steinbrenner's faculties and the Yankees' tumultuous 2007 season. Verducci gets pretty far inside the clubhouse door and gives a very entertaining recounting of the swarm of midges that helped the Indians push past New York in the '07 ALDS.

And as for A-Rod... as much heat as Torre took the week of his book's release, for putting his name on a book where Verducci revealed clubhouse secrets... doesn't Torre look vindicated now? Or, as Jose Canseco would have said... Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball?

I still feel that another Joe Torre biography is out there, but without Verducci's research and reporting on broader topics, that book might turn out to be as generic as Chasing the Dream: My Lifelong Journey to the World Series, or as useless as Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks, and Success.
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