much was made of this book before it had even come out (I suspect, to sell copies); and, when it finally did, it was something of a disappointment, as it did not live up to its pre-publication hype. much (if not most) of what Joe Torre offers in this book already is public record, so there were few surprises where his feelings toward his team & players was concerned. if anything, the recently retired Mike Mussina had more to say about the nature of the team & particular players (especially pitchers), which I found remarkable. although you should find this a quick read, I almost wish it had been penned entirely by Mr. Torre himself; Mr. Verducci--whose metaphors, similes, and other literary comparisons are (at best) high-school level--probably should stick to writing for Sports Illustrated.
Though I'm a long-time Yankee hater and the proud owner of a Derek Jeter voodoo doll, I had a grudging admiration for Joe Torre and the quiet dignity with which he guided the New York Yankees. Even with a huge payroll and the attendant parade of the game's biggest stars to field, he had to deal with a bullying, meddlesome owner, a GM who didn't always support him, and the harsh spotlight of the New York media. Despite the pressure, his teams never won fewer than 87 games in a season, made the playoffs 12 straight years, and won four World Series in a five-year span. Blue Jays fans, especially in the fallow J.P. Ricciardi era, could only watch with envy.
That Torre's name is on the cover as author of this 12-year history is misleading. The book was written by Tom Verducci, with Torre's participation, and is probably the better for it. Verducci's portrait is sympathetic without being syncophantic, and Torre's respectful, laid-back style comes through in the quotes. It's also surprisingly candid for a sports book. Torre doesn't have much nice to say about Alex Rodriguez (and this was written before the recent steroid revelations), David Wells, Kevin Brown or Randy Johnson; conversely, Jeter is portrayed as someone for whom sainthood would be insufficient reward.
Blue Jays fans hoping for a tidbit or two on their team will be disappointed. Toronto barely exists in the Yankee universe, and the few Toronto-related anecdotes are hardly noteworthy.
Overall, this is a lively and compelling read. Even if you hate the @#$% Yankees.
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