Of the baseball scribes out there, I always rank David Halberstam, Buster Olney, and Tom Verducci as among the best.

So of course, Verducci was interviewed by SI.com today after reports surfaced that the new Torre book is blasting the Yankees. Not so, says Verducci. He also asks people to reserve judgment and that Torre has always been honest and a class act and to expect the same in the book. I’ll quote the entire interview here.

SI.com: Two New York newspapers are reporting that Joe Torre rips Alex Rodriguez and George Steinbrenner in the book, and that Brian Cashman was not as supportive of Torre returning as Yankees manager after the 2007 season as was previously believed. What can you tell us about these reports?

Verducci: I think it’s important to understand context here. The book is not a first-person book by Joe Torre, it’s a third-person narrative based on 12 years of knowing the Yankees and it’s about the changes in the game in that period. Seems to me the New York Post assigned this third-person book entirely to Joe Torre and that’s not the case. In fact, if people saw that Post story they probably noticed there are no quotes from Joe Torre in it. Joe Torre does not rip anybody in the book. The book really needs to be read in context.

Anybody who knows Joe, especially during his time in New York, knows he’s a very honest man and he is very honest in the pages of this book. People also know Joe Torre doesn’t go around ripping people and he doesn’t do that in the pages of this book. There is a lot of information in this book over a tremendous period of baseball history. It’s been reported out by me as well as informed by Torre’s own insights into that period.

SI.com: Are the reports of what is said in the book accurate?

Verducci: I can’t comment on specific content of the book because it hasn’t reached its publication date yet and there are contracts to honor. But like I said, it’s important to understand the context of the book. The interviews with Torre were done specifically for the book but this is the result of hundreds of interviews with not only Torre but players, front office executives, executives of other teams, players on other teams. It’s a 477-page book about 12 years of baseball history. Again, it’s not a Joe Torre first-person book, so there’s a lot of reporting that’s presented in there in addition to Joe’s insights.

Smart people will judge the book upon actually reading it and not reading preliminary reports prior to its publication. Once you understand the context of the book you understand the information. It’s not a tell-all book. Anybody who reads it will understand that.

He’s honest and he takes things head on. He never goes after people in the way it’s portrayed in the headlines. There’s a lot of information in the book.

SI.com: Will Joe Torre be surprised by anything that is in this book?

No, Joe Torre is not surprised by anything that’s in this book. He has read and re-read and re-read the book. We’ve been working on it since last November.

SI.com: Do you think this will be a distraction for Joe Torre?

Verducci: No, it won’t be a distraction. It’s not a tell-all book it’s a very insightful book into baseball. It’s a much larger book about the Yankees, not only how the game changed around them, but the growth of information analysis, revenue sharing, growth of intellect in front-offices, changes in Red Sox ownership, the Steroid Era, etc.

I am definitely going to reserve judgment and I know that in my eyes, #6 still belongs in Monument Park and in Cooperstown.

And I know I am shelling out $50 for Torre and Heller‘s books on February 2. Good thing I have Amazon Prime.

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