09/27/09 12:43 AM ET
Postseason return tugs at Torre's emotions
LA manager ties Cox with 14th straight playoff appearance
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"It still chokes me up, to be honest with you," said Torre, who had temporarily postponed his postgame meeting with the media so he could tour the clubhouse, hugging the players who made it possible.
And when Torre says he's being honest with you, you can't help but believe it. You've seen the images for almost a decade and a half, first with the Yankees, now with the Dodgers.
One of the most accomplished managers in the history of the game, with four World Series rings and an iconic reputation, letting his emotions show and he did it again for a few moments after Saturday night's 8-4 win over the Pirates.
"It's pretty amazing," Torre said. "I've spent my whole career as a player sitting at home in October. What's happened to me the last 14 years, it's absolutely amazing. My wife said in 1996 after we won the World Series, 'There it is, we can retire.' And I said, 'Let's see if we can do it again.' She's stopped asking."
Torre, 69, is in the second year of a three-year contract that he's said will probably be his last, while others speculate that if the Dodgers go all the way this season, he'll bow out on top. Of course, that's what his wife thought 13 years ago.
Now he's caught Atlanta's Bobby Cox with a Major League record-tying 14th consecutive postseason appearance as a manager. He's asked about catching Cox and he looked a little surprised.
Managers with the most consecutive postseason appearances
|Bobby Cox||ATL||14 (1991-2005)|
|Joe Torre||NYY, LAD||14 (1996-2009)|
|Mike Hargrove||CLE||5 (1995-1999)|
|Casey Stengel||NYY||5 (1949-1953)|
"I don't know who I caught," he said. "Every time my contract came up in New York, I never wanted to go anywhere else and start over. To go to the postseason 12 times with the Yankees, and now two years with the Dodgers, I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Nobody could have dreamed of doing stuff like this."
So, even though he had earlier said there would be no clubhouse celebration until the Dodgers clinched the National League West title (the magic number is two), he softened his stance after talking to general manager Ned Colletti.
Managers with the most consecutive winning seasons (since 1900)
|Joe McCarthy||CHC, NYY||21 (1926-46)|
|Sparky Anderson||CIN, DET||17 (1972-88)|
|Earl Weaver||BAL||15 (1968-82)|
|Bobby Cox||ATL||15 (1991-2005)|
|Al Lopez||CLE, CWS||15 (1951-65)|
|Fred Clarke||PIT||14 (1900-13)|
|Joe Torre||NYY, LAD||14 (1996-2009)|
"I knew we had to recognize getting to the postseason," he said. "We don't want to let it go by without acknowledging it, but we still have more work to do."
Speaking of work, Torre was pushing the buttons in the winning eighth-inning rally on Saturday. Even though Mark Loretta had a single and RBI double in three at-bats, he sent James Loney to hit with two on and one out. The Pirates countered with left-hander Phil Dumatrait, but Loney drew a walk to load the bases. With Russell Martin up, the Pirates brought on right-hander Steve Jackson, but Torre answered by pinch-hitting for Martin with Andre Ethier, who walked in the tying run.
Orlando Hudson battled back from an 0-2 count to walk in the tiebreaking run and Torre took the wraps off the crippled Jim Thome to hit for pitcher George Sherrill. Thome lined a two-run single to right field, even though he would have been thrown out at first if right fielder Garrett Jones had tried. Thome is 3-for-12 pinch-hitting for the Dodgers and figures to make the postseason roster, even though he can't run or play the field.
"You know what? He's a threat," Torre said. "I have to stay away from a double-play situation with him. With the bases loaded, that's a different animal. He's aware of the strike zone. They have to pitch to him. He knows what he's doing."
Just like his manager.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.