The Yankee Years: Open Thread

Like many of you, I suspect, I'm in the middle of the Torre-Verducci joint production, The Yankee Years, which presently resides at the very top of the NYTBR bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction. I know we've touched on the book here before, but I thought I'd open a new, book-club style thread for those reading to share their thoughts. I'll lead off with a few of my impressions after the jump. 

-The first half of the book is largely similar to Buster Olney's "Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," but of course the Olney book, for all its flaws, was a more objective book. Ironically, though not surprisingly, the best source for both writers is actually David Cone.

-Verducci's rehash of the championship years is solid, if rushed, and there's a lot of platitudinous BS about greatness and grinding. There isn't much of anything new.
-There's endless harping about how the dynasty ended in 2001 or maybe 2000, when the "culture changed." The story of the 03 and 04 Yanks is overwhelmingly negative in slant, despite the incredible baseball of those years.
-The section on steroids is solid but hardly spectacular, and doesn't even begin to address complex issues about the efficacy of doping and its many implications.
-Verducci is impressed with the Sox new thinking, justifiably, but the fawning over the Sox can be a bit hard to stomach for a book about the Yankees.
–The overwhelming impression: what a sad, dour, joyless book–as if the entire 12-year term is reviewed through the opposite of rose-colored glasses, nevermind that for most fans, players, writers, and even, I suspect, Torre himself, the period was more often characterized by the great daily joy of watching a contending club of wonderful athletes play a beautiful game.
-Verducci is a solid writer, and his organizations skills are prodigious, but he's not a first-class stylist; you wish he or his editor would have cut back on some of the clever, smart-aleck metaphor that so often form a substitute for truly incisive writing.

4 comments… add one

  • I want to know more about Mike Mussina going after Mariano Rivera…

    SF February 17, 2009, 10:02 pm
  • The story of the 03 and 04 Yanks is overwhelmingly negative in slant, despite the incredible baseball of those years.
    That’s exactly why I won’t be reading this book. Those were two championship caliber teams. And yet both seasons ended in “failure” largely due to the decisions made by the manager (like 2005 and 2006 and 2007 too). If those decisions aren’t analyzed, especially the contradiction of losing faith in Weaver but still carrying him on the post-season roster and then using him in a crucial game, then I know simply that it’s not an honest tale.
    The sad fact is Torre should have been fired after 2004 and everyone would have understood why. Instead the Yanks generously gave him an expensive three-year extension. That generosity has never been acknowledged and continues to haunt them to this day.

    Rob February 18, 2009, 8:59 am
  • Moose notes that Mo blew game 4 of the 2004 alcs, a totally legit point. (And also, decisive games in 1997 and 2001.) Moose comes off as honest, not bitter.
    The book takes a really weird turn after Cash assumes more authority in 2005, and begins to impose more statistically oriented measures on the club. Cash was especially not happy about Guidry as the pitching coach. Verducci is pretty harsh on Cashman in this section, which is pretty ridiculous considering how much ink spills he extolling the Red Sox for their progressive thinking. But because this wasn’t Torre’s thing, the second it come to the Yankees, it’s an issue. Not right.
    Also, Verducci has a tendency to credit Torre exclusively for the Yanks consistent finish above its pythagorean projection during his tenure, as if that was some kind of objective statistical proof of his value. Torre may deserve some credit for this, but I think it’s been pretty well demonstrated that a top bullpen/closer typically lifts a team over its pythagorean. so he’s giving torre credit that is probably a lot more attributable to Mo. which is not in itself a knock on torre. i love torre, but verducci is using a deceptive measure to prove his value.

    YF February 18, 2009, 9:36 am
  • Verducci is pretty harsh on Cashman in this section, which is pretty ridiculous considering how much ink spills he extolling the Red Sox for their progressive thinking.
    You don’t think the reason why Torre chose Verducci to split the millions ($1.5 million up front) is because he knows Verducci will fire the shots for him?
    so he’s giving torre credit that is probably a lot more attributable to Mo.
    Exactly. Furthermore, Giradi has developed more relievers in his one year than Torre developed in 12. Seriously, can any one name one reliever that Torre successfully established from the farm?

    Rob February 18, 2009, 10:53 am

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