The Yankee Years Hardcover – Feb 3 2009
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“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.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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:
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
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.
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!!!
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.
Given the extraordinary performance of both Sheffield and Giambi as clutch hitters, I was a bit surprised to hear criticism of those two. Yes, it was stupid for the Yanks to go after Sheffield instead of the younger Guerrero. But I was surprised that Torre was never a fan of the Giambi deal -- the guy was a terrific hitter and clubhouse presence. He is criticized, somewhat unfairly, for telling management that he was too lame to play defense in the 2003 World Series. Yet, this is precisely the kind of honesty Torre wanted from his players. Still, Torre emphasized defense and reliability, which I suppose was his root problem with Giambi.
The real problem of the Yankees from 2004 to 2007 was not Giambi or Sheffield or A-Rod, but their pitching. Their offense was terrific in this period. But all great offenses are prone to being shut down against post-season pitching, and the Yankees lacked the top starters necessary to match up with the pitching of the Red Sox, Angels, Tigers, and Indians in these years. The book makes a very good case that the Yankees went after the wrong pitchers in this period -- Vazquez, Pavano, Contreras, Brown, Johnson, Wright. Vazquez may not belong on this list, but he certainly was not the number 1 or number 2 pitcher the Yanks were looking for.
One of the problems, however, was what was the alternative? As Verducci points out, the rest of the league was on to the Yanks. They were signing their young pitchers to long term deals to keep them away from the Yankees. Still, the Yanks just plain blew the opportunity to get Schilling and should have held on to Pettite and Lilly. This would have made a huge difference and may have produced another championship during the end of the Torre era.
My criticism of the book is threefold. First, it is poorly organized and repetitive. Second, the criticism of Cashman is unfair. Yes, he blew the pitching moves. But he was a big supporter of Torre and put his neck out for him to help save his job. Only when the franchise was irretrievably committed in another direction does Cashman back away from Torre. I think Torre should have seen Cashman's conduct as simple business as opposed to a personal betrayal. Third, and most importantly, if Torre's management is based on trust, doesn't he breach it by doing a tell-all book so soon after his departure? Revealing locker room secrets is a betrayal of trust. I could see writing this book several years after the fact, but writing it now was unfair to A-Rod, Giambi, Damon, Sheffield, Cashman, and some of the others who do not come off well in this book. As an admirer of Torre, this lapse in judgment is very disconcerting.