June 19, 2007
The Team Meeting Of May 28th
I was on vacation last week. So, I was not as "on top" of the news in Yankeeland, as much as I try to be...when not on vacation. And, I missed this report - until now. In any event, there's something here worth noting. First, the news story from the Ledger:
Then came the meeting.
For 50 minutes inside the cinder block walls of Rogers Centre clubhouse in Toronto, the Yankees -- superstars and reserves alike -- closed the doors and vented about a season gone awry. For a team that goes about its business with a cool detachment, voices were raised, according to players at the May 28 meeting.
"All the teams I've been through, anywhere, I've never had a meeting like that before," veteran reliever Ron Villone said. "On 10 teams, I've been in dozens of meetings. This meeting was more of a food for thought, for yourself, more than anything else. Like, look in the mirror, and go out and feel good about yourself."
With the air cleared, the Yankees then went out and lost their next two games. But players and coaches agree now that something changed that afternoon.
"Sometimes it takes a couple of days to channel that in the right direction," Alex Rodriguez said. "We talked about it in Toronto, we felt we were so uptight, so trying to please, that it kind of worked against us for a couple of days.
"It was (about) basically to tighten things up, top to bottom. But as a result of trying to do that, maybe we got a little bit uptight."
A person in the room at the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was to be kept private, said it began with Torre and fiery third-base coach Larry Bowa addressing the team, emphasizing the importance of playing with more discipline.
Then they left, leaving the players alone for what was described as lots of "yelling and screaming" with a lot of players getting things off their chests.
The meeting lasted so long the Yankees were late to their pregame stretching routine and had to cut batting practice short.
"I think it just got to the point," Torre said, "where everybody was so conscious of how bad we were doing, that it just got to them emotionally."
I find it interesting that Bowa was called to address the team - and not Don Mattingly. It makes you wonder who really is "second in command" on this team after Torre. Sounds like it's more Bowa than Donnie, no? If so, then how does this speak to Mattingly's readiness to take over for Joe when Torre moves along? If it speaks the way I think, perhaps Joe Girardi does have a shot to be the next "MGR" in the Bronx after Torre? (Assuming that some team does not hire Girardi first.)
Posted by Steve Lombardi at June 19, 2007 08:33 AM
I find it interesting that Bowa was called to address the team - and not Don Mattingly.
Eh, not really.
WRT Bowa vs Mattingly, you have two different personality types. I can't see Mattingly doing a "Bowa" act.
Bowa was called in to address the team along with Torre in an extreme situation. His personality made sense for that type of desperation. For the day to day responsibility of managing a team, it's a different story, and I still don't think the mix of a strident, loose cannon type like Bowa or Girardi and a $200 million team of veterans is very good.
But people sure do like to romanticize the hard-assed firebrand.
Isn't Bowa a coach on the team? Why does it matter if it's Bowa or Mattingly, if it were Bowa and Mattingly and not Torre then I'd be questioning things.
A fish rots from the head. Torre is the head of the team so it all starts with him. Anyone else on his staff who speaks after him and trying to make it out to be more than what it really is, then I'd like to refer to that as noise. Isn't it Torre and Co. and not Torre, Mattingly, and Co.?
Such an inspiring meeting they lost their next two games.
Something from the meeting clicked eventually though!
Posted by: Andrew at June 19, 2007 01:20 PM
"Something from the meeting clicked eventually though!"
How come you're not crediting the team meeting held a couple of weeks earlier than that one?
Besides, I thought all of the pundits had the (most recent) epiphany as Arod's Sunday night homer against Papelbon.
My opinion is a team playing below its capabilities started playing up to its potential. There doesn't have to be a "lightbulb" moment.