February 23, 2009
Book Review: The Yankee Years
I finally finished this book, and I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. As a life long Yankees fan I thought this book provided an insight into the clubhouse that was never really seen before even through the media at those times.
The beginning of the book focuses on how Torre was initially selected to manage the Yankees, as well as how he adapted to the expectations of George Steinbrenner and Yankee protocol. Then they move into the championship years, and there is plenty of commentary from players, coaches, bullpen catcher Mike Borzello also has a lot to say throughout the book. The book gives us the side of the story that only the players and coaches were really privy to at those times.
There is a big enough chunk of the book devoted to the "steroid era", and what was going on not just in the Yankees clubhouse but other places as well. Torre also talks about how McNamee ended up in the clubhouse, and how Clemens got him there. They don't mention any names of people doing anything, but it is interesting how Clemens needed him there on staff at all times.
After the championship years were discussed, you continue on your journey with Torre through all of the things he went through with the commentary of many people, which made for an entertaining read most of the time. There were plenty of things in this book that made me crack up, specifically references to Carl Pavano. The later chapters gave you a real sense of the difference between teams that work together as a team, versus what has been going on in the Yankees clubhouse for quite some time. There is also a discussion on how the teams in MLB have changed their scouting to more numbers type of reports, as well as VORP (value over replacement player) as opposed to just what they can do on the mound or at the plate. There is a whole new formula out there for predicting health breakdowns, and stuff that didn't exist until recent years. Rather interesting to read on how some other teams scout and sign their players.
Many Yankee fans hated Joe Torre for leaving and turning down $5 million dollars, but I was never one of those people. I agreed that they structured his contract in a very demeaning way, and had no interest in working with Joe on a mutually happy arrangement. For what he did for these teams, and all the championships, pennants, and post-season victories they basically told him to eat it and take a hike.
After reading this book, I have a greater appreciation for the 96-01 Yankees, if that was even possible - I do. I will also say that there are certain players that are just plain stupid and make me mad, not mentioning names (A-Rod). Bottom line is that all the Yankee fans that hate Torre for leaving and won't buy this book, are probably the ones that should be reading it. Everyone loved Torre (with the exception of the times he looked like he was asleep in the dugout, or put Farnsworth in to pitch) and this book will definitely give you a nice insight into what goes on in the Yankees organization, clubhouse, and managers office.
As far as Torre calling A-Rod "A-Fraud", it never happened once in the book. In fact, the person who said it might surprise you when you read it. I had mentioned that it was Larry Bowa, as I had heard that on the news and it isn't.
My favorite part of the book was the video that Billy Crystal sent the Yankees. I laughed so hard, and if you read this, or have read it you probably know exactly what I am talking about.