Monday, April 06, 2009

THE YANKEE YEARS by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (A Book Review)

The Yankee Years gives you the history of the Yankees during Torre's reign with an account of how baseball changed after the Yankees won their last championship. You'll learn about the Yankees' internal problems and successes along with larger issues like steroids and the impact of Michael Lewis's MONEYBALL. Neither issue the Yankees were ready to deal with in a timely manner.

Joe Torre, ever the decent man, shares his feelings on many topics including the players he loved and the players who frustrated him. Derek Jeter was the most professional of baseball players and the greatest of teammates. Paul O'Neill was a fierce competitor. David Cone was the rare pitcher who was a team leader in the clubhouse. Jorge Posada was a leader on the field who had no problem getting in your face if you weren't working hard enough. David Wells was a talented pitcher always getting in his own way. Alex Rodriguez was a hard working ballplayer that spent too much time worrying about what was written and thought about him. Carl Pavano was a lazy dog who would do anything not to pitch. Randy Johnson just couldn't deal with the pressures of New York, nor could Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, etc.

Verducci and Torre's first collaboration, CHASING THE DREAM was written more than 10 years ago and I remember it being a pretty standard sports biography although Torre's story was more intriguing than most. This seems like an entirely different kind of book, one that deals with the Yankees within the larger issues of baseball. I can't honestly remember the voice in the first book, but here Verducci's voice dominates and Torre is always close by to add a supporting quote. Any baseball fan should want to read this book just to find out how Joe Torre made it so long in that boiling pot of water.

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