Betrayal Beshmayal

Joe Torre pulls an Emily Litella in the NYT: Nevermind! Meanwhile, our pal Al goes into the A-Rod issue in a nice piece over on SI.com. Honestly, though, I just don't have the energy for this whole teapot tempest. Certainly, the Torre/Verducci proposition that Alex was the only needy, self-absorbed star in the Yankee clubhouse seems like revisionist horseshit. (Roger Clemens, anyone, for starters?) The Yankees haven't lost over the last 4 years because of A-Rod, or clubhouse mood, or a million other non-factors the tabs love to harp about, and the whole It's-been-downhill-since-2001 argument seems to defy any objective look at history. But for a couple of bounces here or a giant gnat storm there, things might be recalled much differently. So excuse me if I just sit this argument out for the time being. It's a busy week. If the Yanks biggest problem in 2009 is that they have to play A-Rod and his attitude at third all season, believe me, things are looking awfully good for the Pinstripes. 

29 comments… add one

  • Amen YF!

    sam-YF January 28, 2009, 7:03 pm
  • That SI article gives the real reason why A-Rod and Jeter had their “issues.”
    No, it’s not because A-Rod had a “Single White Female” obsession with Jeter.
    It’s not because Jeter stopped the sleepovers at A-Rod apartment.
    It’s not even because Jeter failed to stand up for A-Rod when he was under criticism.
    It’s this:
    “Rodriguez is also a gym rat and a baseball junkie. According to Mike Borzello, a bullpen catcher and Rodriguez’s best friend on the team, when he leaves the park at night, Rodriguez goes home and watches the west coast games like any other seamhead. In The Yankee Years, Borzello describes the time that Rodriguez visited Jeter’s home and was shocked to discover that Jeter didn’t subscribe to the baseball package or watch any games that he wasn’t playing in.”
    For a baseball innocent like A-Rod, this discovery must have been truly worldview-changing. No doubt, he must have been devastated upon discovering this fact about Jeter and immediately run home to sob tears of great disappointment into his satin pillow.

    SoxFan January 28, 2009, 11:34 pm
  • > gym rat and a baseball junkie.
    old news. Thinking about last year, it sure would have been sweet to see _one_ win out of Hughes/IPK tandem. Oh well, that’s just “would’ve”. Move on.
    > No doubt, he must have been devastated upon discovering this fact about Jeter and immediately run home to sob tears of great disappointment into his satin pillow.
    That turn of phrase made me grin. I do sincerely look forward to seeing 13 crush the ball, hitting low-away pitches out of the park that others would squib weakly to second, field the hot corner with a lighting bolt arm to first, turn 543… yeah, I’ll take this drama. Damn, he’s good.

    attackgerbil January 29, 2009, 12:25 am
  • “If the Yanks biggest problem in 2009 is that they have to play A-Rod and his attitude at third all season, believe me, things are looking awfully good for the Pinstripes.” – so true.
    A friend and I are breaking down every team in the majors and cataloging the number of players they had on their team with over 350 ABs, and what OPS category they fell in (the A’s were MINDBOGGLINGLY AWFUL last year, seriously). I love the way the New York media tears into the guy, because from my perspective he just keeps putting up fantastic season after fantastic season – he was far and away the OPS leader for the Yanks last year even if he didn’t match 2007 (Giambi was actually second, and Abreu third, which is why I feel that even adding Teixiera doesn’t put the Yankees back into the same offensive stratosphere they occupied much of the decade).
    But yeah. As a Sox fan, it’s amusing to see all the drama, but at the end of the day you still have one of the best players in baseball at third base.

    Micah-SF January 29, 2009, 2:08 am
  • who would have guessed just one year after quitting (opting out) the team, a-rod becomes a more likable guy than joe torre for yf’s. somehow a guy that has made a career out of making himself the center of attention and disappearing in the playoffs has a better chance of landing in monument park than a HOF manager who never let the yankees miss a postseason under his direction. it’s amazing what a difference a year (or book) makes.

    sf rod January 29, 2009, 5:15 am
  • Then of course there’s this, from Belth:
    One of my favorite moments in the Verducci/Torre book is about Roger Clemens as he prepared to face the Mets in Game 2 of the 2000 World Serious. Verducci writes that Clemens’ usual pregame preparation included taking a whirlpool bath at the hottest temperature possible. “He’d come out looking like a lobster,” Yankee trainer Steve Donahue told Verducci. Donahue would then rub hot liniment all over Clemens’ body. “Then Donahue would rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles,” Verducci writes.
    “He’d start snorting like a bull,” the trainer said. “That’s when he was ready to pitch.”
    Or this, from Kepner:
    ¶Though he accuses Kevin Brown of “pitching stupid” by taking the ball in Game 7 of the 2004 A.L.C.S. despite an ailing back, Torre expresses more pity than anger at the troubled right-hander. “There were a lot of demons in this guy,” Torre says, and he mentions that after Brown allowed six runs in the first inning of this 2005 game, he stormed into the visitors clubhouse at Tropicana Field, curled up on the floor in a corner of a storage area and told Torre, “I’m going to go home.” Torre told Brown that if he did that -– if he quit on his teammates — he would never be welcomed back.
    Brown got up, fired his cellphone across the locker room, put his jersey back on and threw four more innings. The authors do not mention it, but Brown won his next four starts, the final four victories of his career.
    ¶After George Steinbrenner saddled Torre with Kenny Lofton, a clearly extraneous center fielder, in 2004, Torre had to decide whether to list Lofton or Bernie Williams as his center fielder for the official All-Star ballot.
    Not wanting to show favoritism to either player, Torre called both into his office, folded two pieces of paper –- one with Williams’s name, one with Lofton’s — and put them in a hat. When Williams’s name fell out of the cap, Torre felt he had to show Lofton the other slip of paper to prove that his name was on it. “I had to open it up to show him that he was on the other one, to make sure he didn’t think there was two Bernies,” Torre said. “That was a big deal to him, being on the All-Star ballot.”
    ¶When the pinch-runner Dave Roberts stole second base in the fateful ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 A.L.C.S., Tom Verducci and Torre write, he had no intention of stealing second on the first pitch because his legs were not yet loose. But Mariano Rivera helped him by making three pickoff attempts before his first pitch to Bill Mueller. “Rivera had done him a favor,” the book says. “Roberts was now fully immersed in the flow of the game. His plan had changed. He made up his mind to steal on the first pitch.”

    Rob January 29, 2009, 7:00 am
  • who would have guessed just one year after quitting (opting out) the team, a-rod becomes a more likable guy than joe torre for yf’s.
    Indeed.
    That Lofton story really pisses me off because Lofton was clearly a better CF than Bernie by 2004 and should have been playing more in the post-season. Then they trade him that winter to Philly (where he hit .335 with 109 OPS+) because Torre never played him over Bernie. So they wind up with Bubba Crosby patrolling CF a deciding playoff game. And Bernie still manages two woeful seasons.
    I bet Torre left that part out. Everything’s sacred in the clubhouse, huh? Scumbag.

    Rob January 29, 2009, 7:07 am
  • For what it’s worth, their 2004 stats:
    Kenny Lofton: 95 OPS+
    Bernie Williams: 108 OPS+
    2004 postseason stats:
    Kenny Lofton: .875 OPS (14 AB)
    Bernie Williams: .846 OPS (54 AB)
    Obviously that doesn’t take defense into account, but Bernie was still better than Kenny.

    Atheose January 29, 2009, 7:39 am
  • Obviously that doesn’t take defense into account, but Bernie was still better than Kenny.
    Defense is exactly part of the equation if you’re going to dare make a claim like “better”:
    2004 –
    Lofton: 102 RATE
    Bernie: 87 RATE
    You also forgot:
    2004 ALCS
    Lofton: .300 .417 .600, 1 SB
    Bernie: .306 .306 .556, 0 SB
    Then of course you can’t leave out the after effects:
    2005
    Lofton: 109 OPS+, 22 SB (which isn’t in OPS+), 113 RATE
    Bernie: 85 OPS+, 1 SB, 91 RATE
    2006
    Lofton: 95 OPS+, 32 SB, 89 RATE
    Bernie: 96 OPS+, 2 SB, 78 RATE
    Which meant Bubba Crosby, and his 70 OPS+, starting a deciding playoff game, one in which he misplayed a crucial ball. Then the Yanks go out and sign Damon, for four years, to play CF for exactly one year.
    That shit is all Torre and his irrational Bernie-love. As much as I loved Bernie, Lofton had a real place on the team for at least 2004 and 2005 as the starting CF. It only took two years for Torre to realize Bernie didn’t, and just in time for the 2005 playoffs. Some how I don’t think we’ll be reading about Bubba Crosby.

    Rob January 29, 2009, 8:16 am
  • I think we all know that Lofton was better defensively, but was that enough to overcome Bernie’s greater offense? Your statement “Lofton was clearly a better CF than Bernie by 2004″ is simply not true. At best it’s a push.
    You also forgot:
    2004 ALCS
    Lofton: .300 .417 .600, 1 SB
    Bernie: .306 .306 .556, 0 SB

    Actually the numbers I posted above are their overall postseason numbers from 2004 (vs MIN and BOS).
    Then of course you can’t leave out the after effects:
    Again, your exact quote was “Lofton was clearly a better CF than Bernie by 2004. This is untrue, as the stats show above. Kenny was better in 2005, and the whole thing with Bubba sure sucked for the Yanks thereafter, but in 2004 Bernie was a better player than Kenny.

    Atheose January 29, 2009, 8:31 am
  • More Hardball wants to know who has the hottest fans in baseball. We’ll be running a set of posts over the following weeks featuring images of each teams’ hotties, with a voting poll to crown a champion. We’re starting with the AL East and we’ll continue through the rest of the American League, then on to the National League. Sticking true to Major League Baseball’s roots, there will be an eight team playoff system where the winners of each division square off with addition of a wild card team to determine who wins the pennant and represents each league in the World Series of Hotness. Link- http://morehardball.blogspot.com/2009/01/hottest-fans-of-al-east_29.html

    B-Dizzle January 29, 2009, 8:32 am
  • Or, to use one number from fangraphs – wins.
    2004, 2005, 2006
    Lofton: 0.4, 3.5, 1.9
    Bernie: 0.2, -2.1, -0.9
    And that’s with Lofton only playing half the 2004 season because of Torre giving CF full-time to Bernie. When Lofton did play, he split the DH slot with Sierra, he of the sub-.300 OBP.

    Rob January 29, 2009, 8:40 am
  • At best it’s a push.
    See above. You’re wrong.
    Or, if you want runs above replacement:
    2004 –
    Lofton: 4.4
    Bernie: 1.6
    And that’s with Lofton playing 83 games, while Bernie played in 148 games.

    Rob January 29, 2009, 8:43 am
  • Micah: would you be interested in posting your findings here? We’d love that. Give us a holler via email.

    YF January 29, 2009, 9:12 am
  • “who would have guessed just one year after quitting (opting out) the team, a-rod becomes a more likable guy than joe torre for yf’s”
    See also: Eli Manning and Tiki Barber, at the start of the 2007 Giants season. It once was Tiki as the star and Eli who was the whipping boy. But once Tiki left and bashed the team and Eli in the media, the fans turned on him and swung around more in support of Eli than before.
    In a shocking turn of events, it turns out people (or maybe it’s just New York sports fans, who knows…) don’t respect it when you bash your former team and co-workers, airing all your past grievances from the safety of your new gig. You have to admit, even if you thought Torre was a saint before (and I was close) three’s something sleazy about betraying the confidence of the locker room after you’ve left.

    Mark January 29, 2009, 12:23 pm
  • I’m with Rob on the Bernie/Lofton debate. Lofton was worth as much as Bernie despite appearing in 60 fewer games. Had Lofton been a full-time centerfielder he would have been worth 1.2 wins more than Williams, according to Win Values.
    And it should have been clear entering the season — Lofton was worth 3.6 wins in 2003, Williams just 1.2.

    Paul SF January 29, 2009, 12:36 pm
  • Lofton certainly got his revenge in the 2007 ALDS. He must have enjoyed that so much.

    AndrewYF January 29, 2009, 5:16 pm
  • Anyone see that story about the Clemens section in the book where he has the trainer rub some kind of super hot tiger balm on his balls before a game?
    Seriously.

    walein January 29, 2009, 7:01 pm
  • “I do sincerely look forward to seeing 13 crush the ball, hitting low-away pitches out of the park that others would squib weakly to second, field the hot corner with a lighting bolt arm to first, turn 543… yeah, I’ll take this drama. Damn, he’s good.”
    Chance that 13 to 24, delete that part about fielding and that’s pretty much what I used to say about Manny.

    I'mBillMcNeal January 29, 2009, 8:53 pm
  • “Anyone see that story about the Clemens section in the book where he has the trainer rub some kind of super hot tiger balm on his balls before a game?
    Seriously.”
    Rob quoted that part of the book in his first post.
    That’s even weirder than my (as of today) former governor’s conduct.

    I'mBillMcNeal January 29, 2009, 8:55 pm
  • I hadn’t expected Lofton’s defense to be that much better that it outweighed Bernie’s offense. I stand corrected.
    That stuff about Clemens is downright fucked up.

    Atheose January 29, 2009, 11:04 pm
  • Seriously. On his BALLS! What is that about????

    walein January 29, 2009, 11:37 pm
  • He must have learned that in Boston. ;)

    walein January 29, 2009, 11:38 pm
  • Bengay on your balls is downright painful. I can’t imagine what this ‘liniment’ stuff was, or why Donahue even did it.

    AndrewYF January 30, 2009, 1:44 am
  • “He’d come out looking like a lobster,” Yankee trainer Steve Donahue told Verducci. Donahue would then rub hot liniment all over Clemens’ body. “Then Donahue would rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles,” Verducci writes.
    “He’d start snorting like a bull,” the trainer said. “That’s when he was ready to pitch.”

    In general, you’d have to say this job of washing Clemens’ balls would be fit for an episode of _Dirty Jobs_ with Mike Rowe
    http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/dirtyjobs/dirtyjobs.html
    But given the Yankees, I wouldn’t be surprised if this task was considered one of the most highly coveted and desired jobs in the entire organization–right up there with giving Suzyn Waldman her daily foot massage.

    SoxFan January 30, 2009, 5:43 am
  • Somehow the image of giving Suzyn a foot massage disgusts me more than Clemens snorting like a bull, with a fresh coat of liniment on his boys.
    Why did the trainer have to do it? Surely Clemens can do that himself, right?

    Atheose January 30, 2009, 7:50 am
  • I didn’t know that the trainer did it for him, but I did know that he did this. It’s more common than you’d think. Lots of players will do something that will keep them uncomfortable during the course of the game, as motivation.
    I am on Chapter 3 of the book and so far nothing crazy controversial. The one thing that is cleared up is the whole Cancer issue. “The Yankees were playing a spring training game in Kissimmee, Florida, against the Astros on the day Torre expected to hear the results of the biopsy. He left the game early and began driving back to Tampa at about the time he expected a call. Only later, however, would he learn that his cell phone was not receiving a signal as he drove on the highway. It was only when he stopped in Tampa to purchase a CD for his daughter that his phone rang. But it was not the doctors. It was Steinbrenner.” (Now this part is a quote from Joe, the above is Verducci) “Don’t worry, Joe,” Steinbrenner said. “You’ll come this fine and be all right.” (Back to Verducci) “Torre was stunned and hurt. How did Steinbrenner know? Torre hadn’t even heard from the doctors yet and here was Steinbrenner breaking the news to him that he had cancer.” (Back to Torre) “George called me and led me to believe that he knew the results which pissed me off,” Torre said. “So I stopped trusting, not so much George, but the people around him from that point.”
    The tests that Torre was waiting on were from Yankee doctors, not his personal doctor. Apparently after Strawberry’s battle with cancer the Yankees began testing for PSA levels during their annual spring training physicals. Torre already had a physical before ST with his doctors and the PSA level was slightly elevated.
    So you can go many different route with that info. 1, was Torre letting Steinbrenner off the hook by stating that his phone was not in service and thus missing a chance to hear from the doctors. 2, Did Steinbrenner even know or was he just assuming the worst? It’s open to interpretation.
    One thing I didn’t know was that this was the exact time that Zimmer and Steinbrenner started their personal feud. Torre put Zimmer in charge and his decisions re: the lineup for an exhibition with the Dodgers went against what George wanted and so it began.

    John - YF January 30, 2009, 9:00 am
  • Theo on the Contreras mishap:
    TV: “Legend has it that Epstein reacted by heaving a chair in his room and breaking furniture, a story he denies.
    TE: “I did not break anything.” he said “I may have thrown a few of my possessions across the room.”

    John - YF January 30, 2009, 2:09 pm
  • Heh. That’s a slightly new version.
    The chair incident came from the fact that an already-broken chair in their hotel room was placed outside the door, and a joke they made about it got reported seriously. I think Epstein’s been pretty mum about what exactly his real reaction was, though enough’s water passed under that bridge (two rings, Contreras washing out in NY) where he’s probably a little more comfortable discussing it.

    Paul SF January 30, 2009, 2:28 pm

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