Is This Where the Torre/Rodriguez Relationship Went Wrong?
I was reminded yesterday of the SI article from 2006 (also written by Torre co-author Tom Verducci) and mentioned on this blog where Verducci does a rip job on Rodriguez, so I decided to revist it and look at what it had to say in light of the recent book story.
As it turns out, if A-Rod had a frosty relationship with Torre, he had every right to be upset with his manager.
Case in point:
Alex Rodriguez still was weak from a throat infection that had confined him to his Seattle hotel room for the New York Yankees' game the previous night -- not to mention forced him to cancel a recording session for his ringtone endorsement deal -- when he walked into the visitors' clubhouse at Safeco Field on Aug. 24 and was told to go to manager Joe Torre's office. Torre asked him to close the door, then motioned to the blue leather couch in the smallish room. "Sit down."
The richest and most talented player in baseball was in trouble. Rodriguez could not hit an average fastball, could not swat home runs in batting practice with any regularity, could not field a ground ball or throw from third base with an uncluttered mind and cooperative feet, could not step to the plate at Yankee Stadium without being booed and could not -- though he seemed unaware of this -- find full support in his own clubhouse.
Torre hit .363 with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971 and .289 the following season, giving him a deep understanding of the ebb and flow of performance. With veteran players especially he operates like an old fisherman checking the tide charts, believing that the worst of times only means the best is to come. Rodriguez will hit, he thought, and he kept telling his third baseman exactly that.
In Seattle, Torre looked at Rodriguez squarely and said, "This is all about honesty. And it's not about anybody else but you. You can't pretend everything is O.K. when it's not. You have to face the reality that you're going through a tough time, and then work from there."
It was as close to a tongue-lashing as the low-key Torre ever gets. When the manager comes down on a player, he will mix in the occasional profanity, but his voice remains even and there are no threats. Here his hammer was in the rebuke that Rodriguez's unwillingness to address his slump head-on was letting himself and the team down. Torre told him he needed to show some fight, some anger even, rather than continuing to act as if he were doing just fine.
Rodriguez maintained eye contact while Torre spoke and nodded repeatedly. His only sign of discomfort was that he kept twirling his wedding ring around his finger. When Torre was done, he asked A-Rod if he understood what he had just told him. "Yes, 100 percent," Rodriguez said firmly.
Verducci wasn't at that meeting, and it's obvious Rodriguez didn't give up the information of what transpired between closed doors of a supposedly private meeting. Torre sold him out to his pal Verducci who then wrote what is essentially a hit piece on Rodriguez and made Torre out to be a wise sage (again).
Can anyone blame Alex for not trusting a manager who runs to tell the press what happens in private meetings (ring twisting and all) so they can write negative articles about him?
Labels: a-rod, joe torre, sports illustrated, tom verducci, torre is dumb
posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 9:11 AM