Book review: Inside The Empire

terrynever

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 25, 2005
15,654
pawtucket
Currently 680th on Amazon bestseller list, this 213-page book by long-time Yankee beat writer Bob Klapisch and co-author Paul Solotaroff starts off fast and then tails off, kind of like the 2018 Yankee team it focuses on. Great anecdotes and insights early on, then a transition to segments on Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine (a boot-licking ode to the club President).
My rule of thumb with Yankee books is this: tell me something I do not know. It’s not that hard because I do not live and breathe for the pinstripes in my old age. So when the book began with observations about the differing personalities of Gleyber Torres (serious) and Miguel Andujar (outgoing), my hopes were raised.
Klapisch, whose daily reporting forms the foundation of this book, notes that Torres calls his parents and family back home in chaotic Caracas every day, worrying about their safety in a country on the verge of a revolution. Torres is already a national hero in Venezuela, another form of pressure on the young man.
Andujar dresses up, hits the clubs, dances around the clubhouse, just an uninhibited player who lives to hit.
The book quotes Cashman as saying team chemistry is “off the charts” because the organization decided to mold all of its young prospects into a “team first” philosophy after Joe Torre’s post 2001 teams began to go their own way while the manager made Bigelow Tea commercials that drove the owner into jealous rage.
Klapisch notes that Torre smoothed the transition when Tino Martinez struggled to replace Don Mattingly in 1996 but rarely reached out to Jason Giambi, Tino’s replacement. The Yankee locker room became fractured after Tino, Paul O’Neill and David Cone left. Derek Jeter ... well, you guys know what happened when A-Rod arrived. Pinstripe version of 25 players, maybe 20 cabs.
This book is at its best when it focuses on the 2018 team. Stuff like explaining the inner thoughts of Giancarlo Stanton as he learned a new league, city and teammates. Stanton lockers on the other side of the room from Judge. This is another pair of contrasting stars. Stanton likes the bright lights. Judge likes them down low. When Stanton won a game single-handedly late in the season, Judge lingered in the locker room until almost everyone had left, then grabbed Stanton, hugged him, did a little dance and walked with him to the team bus. The two big guys get along.
Much is made of CC Sabathia’s role as the “father” of this team, the veteran who reaches out to everyone, even Sonny Gray.
Klapisch delves into Aaron Boone’s leadership techniques. Bret Boone jokes that “Aaron is the Boone everyone likes.” Aaron Boone just wants his players to do the conditioning work, read and absorb all the stat sheets the club provides, look at the data on their club-issued IPad Pro, and then just compete on the field. Whatever happens, happens. The complete opposite of Joe Girardi.
The book mentions a weary Boone late in the season struggling to speak to reporters after a particularly awful defensive effort by Gary Sanchez, noting that TV analyst Girardi had just explained a technical flaw in Sanchez’s defense (his left knee collapsing) that reduces his mobility on balls in the dirt.
According to an unnamed source, one of the reasons the Yankees hired Girardi in 2008 was his TV skills, his ability to communicate, but he grew weary of the grind by 2011 and began to shut everyone out.
Brian Cashman is the inner voice of this book with Hal Steinbrenner getting credit for financing all sorts of player development projects, including hiring teachers, dietitians, lifestyle coaches, and cops in Tampa to teach all the Latin players and other newcomers how to assimilate. I did not know that any prospect who is released gets a chance to go to college back home on the Yankees’ dime.
The book winds down with a deep dive into the financial revenue streams that drive the franchise’s success. Cashman and Steinbrenner both feel their mission is to get into the playoffs every year. Winning it all is a crapshoot, Cashman keeps saying, which seems like a rationalization since their arch rival has won four World Series in the past 15 years to the Yankees’ one title in the previous 18 seasons.
One more thing: attendance has recovered since Judge arrived. Hal Steinbrenner thinks the rise is partly explained by the club’s decision to cater to millennials. The team created two “gathering spots” in the outfield stands where people can watch the game while playing with social media and chatting with friends. Hal thinks millennials would rather watch games standing up. They have no patience for sitting down. The game is too slow!
The Red Sox get a lot of credit for their dominating 2018 campaign, including the night at Fenway when beanballs flew and Alex Cora got ejected for defending his players. Cora stood on the top step of his dugout and repeatedly yelled “Fuck you” at Aaron Boone, who did not respond. That is not his style, as the book had explained many times already.
In an earlier reference to the rivalry, after Boston won the opener of a series in August, Klapisch asked a Yankee veteran about the team’s chances to beat out the Sox and the vet replied, “We might be a little short” this year. Klapisch was shocked a player would admit as much with six weeks left in the season. As a fan, I don’t find that mentality so odd. But I guess Klapisch felt the candid observation said something about the team’s inner makeup. This club was too young and flawed to challenge Boston in 2018.
 
Last edited:

MakeMineMoxie

Well-Known Member
Bronze Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
687
The floor of Punter's Pub
Klapisch was just on MLB Now plugging the book & I have to admit, it sounds like an interesting read, not just of the NYY but of how a successful business adapts to a changing landscape.

At the end of the show, Klapisch told of an interview he got with Stanton by telling him he knew exactly how Stanton felt getting hit in the face with a pitch because the same thing had happened to him in a semi-pro game.

Good stuff.
 

terrynever

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 25, 2005
15,654
pawtucket
Klapisch was just on MLB Now plugging the book & I have to admit, it sounds like an interesting read, not just of the NYY but of how a successful business adapts to a changing landscape.

At the end of the show, Klapisch told of an interview he got with Stanton by telling him he knew exactly how Stanton felt getting hit in the face with a pitch because the same thing had happened to him in a semi-pro game.

Good stuff.
The part about Stanton on the ground in the batter’s box, not wanting to get turned over by the trainer because he thought he might drown in his own blood, that was well told. Conquering the fear when he returned, and pitchers throwing inside to test him.