"I've never managed to save my job. I have to manage to try to win." -- Joe Torre
I just finished reading Joe Torre's bestselling book The Yankee Years about his championship tenure as manager of the New York Yankees. His tome, co-written by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, chronicles the historic run of four World Series victories among twelve postseason appearances.
Reading the book brought back great memories and revealed the behind-the-scenes joys and chaos of Torre's reign in the Bronx and his battles with the Yankee front-office.
The Yankee Years unfolds in the third-person, so, except where Joe and others are directly quoted, it's difficult to differentiate what are Torre's words and remembrances, what are the products of Verducci's years of reporting, and what are second-or-third-hand anecdotes from other people quoted in the book, like David Cone, Mike Mussina, etc.
Another flaw is that the book tends to meander at times -- the best parts are the chapters that stay focused on a specific topic or theme, such as the steroids scandal, the attack of the midges during the playoff game in Cleveland in 2007, and so on.
The book doesn't pull any punches at times, praising the core of players who won it all in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000, while pointing out the work ethic differences of some of the players who came afterwards. It's also very candid about owner George Steinbrenner's health decline and coinciding diminishment of power in the Yankee empire. There are also inconsistencies here and there, but overall, if you're a fan of the boys in pinstripes and baseball in general, then it's worth reading.
Other books about the Yankees that I recommend, are:
Steinbrenner! by Dick Schaap -- a well-written biography of "The Boss," how he bought and transformed the Yankees, and all the controversy, successes, and failures that came with his methods.
Damned Yankees by Bill Madden and Moss Klein -- a fun and outrageous book that reveals all the craziness of the years when the Yanks were building a reputation as "the Bronx Zoo" with a revolving door of managers.
Yankee Stadium: A Tribute by Les Krantz -- a wonderful table book keepsake that remembers all the fantastic moments in the "House That Ruth Built." My only criticism is how the 1980s were downplayed. Yes, those were the barren years with no championships, but it would have been nice to read more about Don Mattingly who was the bright spot on the team during that decade and kept fans like me coming to see games, keeping the Yankee tradition alive.
So those are just some recommendations if you're looking for some sports-related reading material as the baseball season hits its stride.