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Joe Torre Speaks with CNBC's Michael Eisner on Leaving the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, and the Steroids Controversy in Major League Baseball

Joe Torre
Joe Torre

Full Interview to be Broadcast on CNBC's "Conversations with Michael Eisner" on Monday, February 25th at 9 PM ET and Rebroadcast at Midnight

Good day. Below are excerpts of an interview with Los Angeles Dodgers manager (and former New York Yankees manager) Joe Torre conducted by Michael Eisner for his CNBC program, "Conversations with Michael Eisner." The Torre interview will be seen on "Conversations with Michael Eisner" on CNBC Monday, February 25th at 9 PM ET and rebroadcast at Midnight. Please credit any excerpt to CNBC and "Conversations with Michael Eisner." Thank you.

Torre on leaving the Yankees:
And-- and I-- you know, when I left the Yankees, it-- it-- it was strictly for that reason that I-- I-- I didn't think they necessarily, you know, wanted me back.

And I knew, under the circumstances, that it's probably best that I move on. And-- and I really didn't know what I was gonna do. I sat with my representative, you know, we talked about broadcasting and, you know, making appearances and stuff. And then, the-- the Dodgers called.



Torre on Steinbrenner:
He's had some health issues. But again, when he's been in my company, you know, sure, it wasn't the guy I knew 12 years ago. But it still was somebody that you knew-- when, you know, you walk in the room with him, that he's there.



Torre on the controversy of steroids in MLB:

MICHAEL EISNER:
In your day, there were no enhancement drugs, there was none of that. But would have you been tempted if you're getting down to .247 batting average, and you used to bat at .350, saying, "Maybe I should try this?" Would that-- do you understand how the-- players today are so scared about losing their edge, that they may try these things?

JOE TORRE:
I-- I don't think there's any question. I mean, I watched different players of my era, you know, being interviewed about stuff. And when you get in that competition, Michael, you-- you want an edge. You want to do what you can do. And-- and-- there's no question you would consider it, if you thought it would help your team win ball games.

MICHAEL EISNER:
Pretend that you're insecure. You-- and you-- and you-- and at 36, you could be unemployed, and you may not be a manager--

JOE TORRE:
And you thought it would-- it would help your career extend, I think-- you know, you certainly would-- would think about it.

MICHAEL EISNER:
Do you think that if Barry Bonds-- that they prove, without a questionable doubt, Barry Bonds or somebody like that did do that, if they prove it, that that should disqualify them for whatever awards they may have gotten?

JOE TORRE:
No, I-- I think, obviously, his numbers wouldn't be where they are now, but Barry Bonds-- had four MVP awards before anybody questioned what he was doing. And I can tell you, as a manager who managed against Barry Bonds, as a skinny kid, he was scary. He was a good hitter. And-- and he-- he-- you just couldn't find a way to get him out regularly.




MICHAEL EISNER:
But, you know, when you have a kid, or you have a friend, or you're in an organization and somebody is acting peculiar, you're in denial that they may be doing something. So, I am totally understanding how the whole world would be in denial that this may have gone on. But when you see a player, whether it's Roger Clemens or somebody else, go from 180 to 240, your mind is, "Oh, they've just-- working out." Did you have no idea any of this was going on?

JOE TORRE:
Unh-uh (NEGATIVE). Well, first off, I respect guys' privacy. I never saw (COUGHING) a big change in weight mass on-- on guys who were on my team. I did not see that, okay?

MICHAEL EISNER:
Even though George Mitchell's report says-- and he was in New York, that 20 of your players and-- no, ten of your players, but 20 if you can include retirees, and every other team, as well, somehow were involved in this. You--

JOE TORRE:
Well, the names were mentioned. It doesn't mean anything other than names were mentioned. And-- And the fact that the two-- the-- the two people they-- they interviewed to get all this information are both based in New York. So, you-- you-- you gonna obviously have people that are gonna have to come through New York. And a lot of the players-- I managed the Yankees for 12 years.

We've had players for a year, less than a year, and all those players, you know, would come through your team. And-- you know, you-- I can honestly say, I didn't see anything suspicious. That's all I can tell you. And again, I don't go look for it. When I was managing a different club, in a different time-- I did notice guys' behavior a little bit differently, but that was related to drugs.

But-- with the steroids, or the-- you know, what's going on, first off, I-- I don't think, you know, this is the right thing to do. Because it literally makes you stronger. Now, it-- that's not a level playing field, okay? It's like somebody being allowed to use aluminum bat, another guy's using wood bats. It's not the fair-- not the fair game you should play. But I-- as I say, I don't go around investigating. And I didn't see any evidence of-- of people, all of the sudden their ability doing this. And-- and-- we didn't have that in our club.

MICHAEL EISNER:
Was it worth doing the George Mitchell report? Or should it have been done internally by somebody that was inside baseball? Or should it have been done by the government, or-- or was this appropriate?

JOE TORRE:
I-- I think baseball is responsible for taking care of itself. And, it got to the point, you know, once there was question about, you know, steroids, who's using them, you know, you start losing the confidence of the fan. And once you lose the confidence of the fan-- we're painting everybody with the same broad brush.

So, I-- I think it was-- it was important for baseball to do something about the curiosities. As far as the George Mitchell report, I-- there's no question, he worked hard, he did a lot of leg work. He did a lot of stuff. I-- I'm not sure that when you start saying it's 80, 89 players, that that's the whole thing. I think it's sort of incomplete. I'm not saying you could ever get it complete.

My only concern is, we're more concerned about placing blame, pointing fingers, instead of saying, "Alright, we've address it, we're fixing it, let's move on--"




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