This won’t be pretty. According to ESPN and The New York Post, Joe Torre’s new book The Yankee Years, co-authored by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, rips into the Yankees organization, Alex Rodriguez, and Brian Cashman. Reports assert that Torre says that teammates called A-Rod “A-Fraud,” that he was obsessed with his relationship with Derek Jeter, and that “Cashman never told the brass that the manager wanted a two-year deal and instead remained silent during Torre’s tense final sitdown with the bosses.” The Post also says that
Torre spent years trying to bring out a winning performance from A-Rod, the highest-paid player in baseball, which from all reported accounts included a lot of hand-holding and battling the insecurities and demons Rodriguez struggles with.
And while the Bombers would win four world championships under Torre’s watch by 2000, there were years of tension over management’s choice of players and the growing silence between him and Yankee brass.
Much of this seems at least plausible, certainly the disagreements about players signed and, if Verducci’s SI.com article “A-Rod Agonistes” from September 2006 is credible, A-Rod’s various insecurities and tension with teammates. About Cashman’s role in the post-2007 negotiations, Torre’s version represents an about-face from his earlier comments referring to the Yankees’ GM as having his back. Interestingly, the Post reports that Torre’s book makes a serious claim–that “during spring training in 1999, team doctors revealed to owner George Steinbrenner that Torre had prostate cancer – even before informing the manager himself.” This would appear most improper, indeed unethical if true. However, as with the other assertions reported, I cannot definitively say either way. Surely A-Rod, Cashman, and the Yankees organization will either deny or deflect these charges.
Regardless, this marks a very unfortunate turn in Torre’s history with the organization, one that–whether or not these reports are accurate–will likely mar the relationship between Torre and the Yankees for some time. To what degree this is a response to Torre’s not being mentioned during the final game at Yankee Stadium last season or merely indicative of a personal rift between Torre and the Yankees, one must speculate. However, it’s all-too easy to see that the bad blood between Torre and the organization he helped achieve much success in 12 years will percolate.
I had hoped that there would not be a post-partem tell-all from Torre about the Yankees. It appears that was futile. Am I the only one who finds Torre’s choice of Verducci as co-author–the same writer whose SI.com article exposing a dysfunctional clubhouse and seeming to send A-Rod back into a late-season tailspin in 2006–curious to say the least?