After returning to baseball as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers briefly, Torre has come out with an autobiography focused on his time in New York. Tom Verducci writes one of the most compelling baseball dramas as Torre gives his views and thoughts on his entire tenure with the Yankees in the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Yankee Years.
Not only do you get interviews with Torre but many of his former players. David Cone, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jason Giambi, and more Yankee greats give their opinions on not only their manager, but their own game experiences as well. From the drama with pitching ace David Wells to the confidence issues plaguing Alex Rodriguez, Torre does not shy away from any of the controversial issues surrounding the Yankees for more than a decade.
Verducci retelling the championship years of 1996 and onwards is complemented beautifully by how Torre saw his team come together. The steroid issue that nearly destroyed Major League Baseball is one of the best reads in the book. Having Roger Clemens’ ex-trainer and former players who admitted to steroid usage is an eye-opening look on how this issue did not just involved star players, but nearly the entire league. While Torre does not condone the use of steroids, he understands why a player would use and why every situation should not be judged the same.
Torre having a rocky relationship with Steinbrenner is not surprising considering the way Steinbrenner treated a lot of his managers as Yankees owner. Regardless of how many championships Torre won, he always had to deal with the paranoia and passionate of Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner questioned his every move, and if it was not for Torre, Steinbrenner would have traded Pettitte before Pettitte had some of his best years. Torre rarely spoke out against Steinbrenner’s decisions, but sometimes he got pushed too far. An example of this is when Steinbrenner wanted David Wells pushed back into the bullpen.
“I’m sick and tired of this shit. You keep pounding at me, pounding at me, pounding at me… it bothers me. I probably shouldn’t tell you that. But it bothers me,” Torre told his ex-boss. Moments afterwards Torre told current Yankees president Randy Levine to “shut the fuck up.”
Verducci explains the changes to MLB in terms of giving each team a fair chance to compete with the wealth and power the Yankees. The changes caused the Yankees’ dynasty to slowly fade. The last year Torre served as a Yankee is sad considering how hard he worked, but due to the Yankees’ poor start and Steinbrenner’s demand for victory, Torre admits he was tired of his position. “A feeling of relief,” Torre describes it when the Yankees decided not to keep him.
A must read for Yankee fans and quite possibly one of the most intriguing books ever written on 90′s and 21st century baseball. From the neverending rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees to Torre’s health scare, the memoir takes you on an amazing ride through one of the most difficult jobs in professional sports. The afterword written in the paperback edition reveals what Torre was doing and what he thought of the Yankees winning their last championship without him. The book is not written in first-person, but this is still a great read told like a story.
The Yankee Years
By Joe Torre and Tom Verducci