Our initial reaction to The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci is puzzlement. As you may have heard by now, the book isn’t written in first person, but in the third. It reads like an impersonal history of Torre’s years with the Yankees told by an outside observer with some inside information. Frankly, this strikes us as a little nutty: why is Torre credited over Verducci if the book isn’t speaking in his voice?
So far, the New York press, which seems to be looking for anyway they can find to dump on the Steinbrenners, has been mostly approving. So far, the Daily News John Harper is one of the few taking a more thoughtful approach.
While coming down hard on Boomer Wells for his threatening to punch Torre out, Harper at least backs off from the issue long enough to ponder what no one else has: “It makes you wonder why Torre wanted to go down this road. If it were just for the money, it seems a bit beneath the legacy that Torre carved out during his 12 years as Yankee manager – especially considering the Yankees made him a wealthy man.
“If he had a more noble cause in mind, wishing to set the record straight on all things Yankee during his time there and, together with co-author Tom Verducci, give fans what appears to be a forthright and provocative summation of the Torre era, then good for him.”
But if the latter, we are left wondering, then why didn’t Torre come out and say it in his own words? For instance, Verducci quotes some Yankee players as calling Alex Rodriguez “A-Fraud.” We are left wondering whether this is also Torre’s judgment on the player who won two MVP awards in his four years with Joe. If so, why doesn’t Torre or someone say exactly why he feels this way? And if not, why is it mentioned in the first place?
It seems rather like a gratuitous slur on Rodriquez in which players who might be happy to have him on the team are given no chance to respond. For that matter, Rodriguez is not given a chance to respond.
More on this next week ….
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 30, 2009