Customer Review

135 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look at America's game, February 3, 2009
This review is from: The Yankee Years (Hardcover)
I am not a Yankee fan. I am not a Red Sox fan. I have no dog in this fight.

Now, with that out of the way, I hope you'll give me a fair shake at this.

My opinion: this is a good read, at times even gripping. Its value lies beyond what gossip it contains about A-Rod or how it gets back at the Steinbrenners. It's an inside look at how baseball has changed, in ways that are often not that good.

I thought The Yankee Years would be a routine behind-the-scenes tell-all, but its ambitions are bigger. It chronicles the end of an era in baseball, a more innocent time before steroid scandals, big money and executive decisions based on advanced statistical analysis.

This is not a Joe Torre memoir. Torre provides his voice and viewpoint throughout the book, but Verducci also quotes dozens and dozens of other key personalities. He weaves it all into a fascinating narrative that covers all the highs and lows of the Yankee's dynasty years.

The book throws a spotlight on many key players from this era. Some shine, others don't. David Cone, Mike Mussina and Derek Jeter shine. Jeter, in particular, impresses throughout with his sunny optimism and quiet leadership. If you weren't a Jeter fan before, you will be after reading it.

There has been a lot of buzz about Torre dissing players in these pages. The "A-Fraud" reference to Alex Rodriguez is a throwaway reference to what guys in the clubhouse -- not Torre -- called A-Rod in 2004, about how the player tried to fit in during his first season as a Yankee. "People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel, were calling him `A-Fraud' behind his back." Instead, Torre offers his clear-eyed assessment of Rodriguez as a player who can't succeed as a team player because of his fear of failure. "There's a certain free-fall you have to go through," he says, "when you commit yourself without a guarantee that it's always going to be good. There's a sort of trust, a trust and commitment thing that has to allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be embarrassed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And sometimes players aren't willing to do that."

It's almost biblical the way it all ends. A cloud of midges on a hot Cleveland night dooms the Yankees in a key playoff game. Thousands of the irritating insects descend on the mound, thoroughly rattling the pitcher. Bug spray makes the torment worse, not better. This perfect swarm seals Torre's fate. He leaves the Yankees not long after the loss, after a painful 10-minute meeting where he realizes his own personal Judas is his long-time general manager, Brian Cashman. "Cashman had retreated to silence with Torre's job on the line. The allies of Joe Torre had dwindled to zero."

Throughout the arc of this tale, Torre comes across as calm, determined and fair.

I should admit I do have a slight bias. When I was in junior high growing up outside St. Louis, Joe Torre taught me to play infield. He was playing third base for the Cardinals then. He appeared at the community center in my neighborhood outside the city one day and gave a handful of us kids a free lesson. I'll never forget it; he was patient and explained the game in detail, like he actually cared that we understood it. I learned a lot in that hour, from a decent man.

Here's the chapter list:

1. Underdogs
2. A Desperation to Win
3. Getting an Edge
4. The Boss
5. Mystique and Aura
6. Baseball Catches Up
7. The Ghosts Make a Final Appearance
8. The Issues of Alex
9. Marching to Different Drumbeats
10. End of the Curse
11. The Abyss
12. Broken Trust
13. "We Have a Problem"
14. The Last Race
15. Attack of the Midges
16. The End
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Comments


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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 4, 2009 3:22:01 AM PST
D.hopper says:
How did you get a copy since the book just came out yesterday?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2009 11:33:52 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 9, 2011 12:08:27 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2009 1:27:48 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2009 6:06:56 PM PST
Julie Neal says:
Seems fishy, doesn't it? The reason is that I'm often lucky enough to get sent advance copies. Also, I often start off my day at a local bookstore, so if there's something there I really like I can, depending on my time that day, buy it and read it that same day. As for the chapter titles, I get more positive feedback than negative when I include them. I'll also sometimes add physical details of the book, such as what's under the dust jacket, the binding or paper type. I add in those things to try to be as helpful as I can be in my post. Practical information like that about a book is easy to glean at a bookstore, but often tough to learn online. I put it at the end of my reviews so people can just skip over that part if they want.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2009 2:19:11 PM PST
Slumberous D says:
I would have to say kudos to you Julie for posting so quickly. This only makes me want to buy a copy more and read the book myself. I for one, am not surprised on how quickly Julie's review came out. Not to brag or anything, I often measure how many hours it takes me to read a book, not how many days. Especially if the book is as engaging as touted, the reading would be over before one realises it. Keep up the good work.

Posted on Feb 6, 2009 12:18:09 PM PST
Glen R says:
Torres wasn't fired he was offered a contract that was so insulting he left.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2009 1:22:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2009 1:25:11 PM PST
Robert Busko says:
Don't worry about these type of posts Julie. I finished the book and posted a review late the same day. Some folks are just slow readers/thinkers. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes they don't understand others who can consumer multiple books in the same day. Starting your day at a book store is fortunate. As a public librarian I'm surrounded by books all day. I haven't reviewed much lately though I've been reading a lot.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2009 1:58:34 PM PST
Julie Neal says:
Thanks Robert. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing a review a day, if possible. It's great practice for me in my work, and something I love to do.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2009 6:55:32 PM PST
J.B. says:
Hey Julie, Braves fan? Isn't that an Atlanta cap you're wearing on your profile page? Wasn't Torre with them, too?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2009 7:16:07 PM PST
Julie Neal says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2009 5:12:41 AM PST
Julie Neal says:
Glen R., thanks for pointing that out. I revised my review accordingly.
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Location: Celebration, Fla.

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