Book Review: The Yankee Years

The Yankee Years by Joe Torre ($12 @ Amazon) was a gift, and I enjoyed it more than expected. When it first came out there was a lot of hoopla about it being an expose, and while I guess there is some of that, to me it wasn’t the point of the book or the most interesting part of the book.

Imagine taking over managing a team (of DBA’s even) that have been playing at the middle of the pack level, and in very short time taking them to the World Series. Impressive, though certainly only a portion of the credit can go to the manager. But, then imagine that based on those results the fans and the owners don’t just hope for the same performance next year, they expect it, even demand it. That’s pressure, and it’s a lot of what this book is about.

There’s some useful stuff in here for managers, understanding that different people need a different touch, and realizing that in some cases using a back channel to deliver a message accomplishes the goal without the pain that often results when done directly. It’s also interesting to see how much relationships matter, how much good comes from the strong ones, and how much damage results from the weaker ones.

My take on it was that working for the Yankees owners wasn’t fun, and would have required more patience and politics than I could have managed, but the trade off was getting to do things that no other team was doing.

The book was reasonably done, and worth reading if you’re even a casual baseball fan. There are other lessons there, but if you don’t follow baseball you might find them tedious to get to.