On managing in the American League and National League
Cox: I love the National League. I wish we would go back in the American League to National League ball. Joe and Tony have been in both leagues and I just feel like the National League is more of a fun game. I feel - it's probably not right - [that] there's more strategy in it. It puts a lot of heat on you as a manager, on pitching decisions. On the other hand, it puts a lot of heat on a manager in the American League [for] leaving a guy in too long, maybe. I just prefer watching on TV a National League game. I like the strategy and I just feel it's a better game.
Torre: I like the National League because [of the] strategy, because you can try to run the opposing manager out of players, because you could do a little of this, a little of that. I'm not sure how many people enjoy watching pitchers hit. We're in the entertainment business now, but I think neither job is easy, but it's less complicated in the American League because you don't have to keep track of where your pitcher is. You always have to keep track of where he is [in the NL]. Tony comes over to the National League and he starts batting the pitcher eighth and all that good stuff, and he had good reason to do it. He wanted an extra runner on for McGwire. I think the National League is more strategy.
La Russa: Joe mentioned it, I think we have a problem with MLB because casual fans like offense, and there's more offense with a DH. The baseball fan that loves a game really understands the beauty of the National League. Sparky [Anderson] told me, "Before you retire, go to the National League because I know you love the game." … You see everything in the National League, you work so hard to make a run, stop a run. In the American League, half the time they don't even have run defense that they practice very much, so I think the National League game is beautiful. The more you learn about it, the more you enjoy it. I'm not sure that many fans want to learn that much. If they did, they would earn the rewards of seeing how beautiful the game can be, but we're stuck. A lot of us say it should have one set of rules for both, but this is what it is. I don't know how we can change from one to the other, but if I had my druthers: National League.
On who were their closest coaching "lieutenants"
Cox: I had a lot of good bench coaches. Leo [Mazzone] would drive me crazy. I'm not kidding, he was worse than a bad call by an umpire, believe me, throughout the ballgame, but he was great. He did a great job as our pitching coach, a terrific job. He didn't overstep his boundaries at all, he made sure his pitchers respected his infielders and outfielders, and stuff of that nature. Jimmy Williams was one of my great friends, a great baseball guy.
Torre: Don Zimmer, no question. I hired him, and I had to talk him into taking the job because he was real good friends with George [Steinbrenner] at the time and he thought that George was the one that instigated that. I just wanted someone that had experience in the American League, and I hired a coach that became a friend. But he made me a little more daring than [when] I went in as manager. He would say, "Go hit and run," and the guy never swung and missed. I remember when [Hideki] Matsui came to our ball club…and Zim says, "Ask him if he can hit and run." So I asked him and he said through an interpreter, "Any time you want." So, we learned things, but Zim…he had the clock in his head, he didn't have to carry that stopwatch in his back pocket. He knew when we could steal on somebody. He certainly was the guy that got me over.
La Russa: Dave [Duncan]. He is the perfect pitching coach. … I really believe if Dave hadn't been on our staff from '83 to '11, you could subtract hundreds of wins from my personal record. He's that great and he's perfect for nowadays. It was never about him. In fact, he doesn't want any credit - it was all about doing right for the pitchers and our team. So, Dave, definitely. I had a long relationship, starting out when I was 18-years old, a little bit in Oakland and until his death, with Charlie Lau. Not just a great hitting coach, but just a really, really smart baseball man. And then from '86 to 2011, I had a first base coach named Dave McKay that just was outstanding in so many areas, including integrity, character, competitiveness. … We've had great coaches, but if you had to pick out two or three to mention, those are the ones.
On their mentors
Cox: Ralph Houk. I played for him in '68-'69 with the Yankees and I love Ralph. I've played for all kinds of managers and it took me eight years to get to the big leagues and probably 6-7 years to play in winter baseball. You ran into some managers that you didn't care for, it was no fun. You gave a hundred percent anyway, but it was no fun playing. Ralph made the game fun. He would make the 25th guy on the field feel just like Mickey Mantle would, he would treat him the same way. I loved those guys. Sparky Anderson, I was up his nose when I first started managing and we struck up a relationship just like Tony [La Russa] did with him, and Sparky was good about that. He wanted to help a young manager out because there's struggles, there's no doubt about that. I used to keep an eye really tightly on Gene Mauch. I thought Gene was one of the brilliant guys in baseball. Not the best-liked guy when he managed, but I liked his strategy, I liked the way he ran a ballgame.
Torre: The most influence on me was Red Schoendienst. I played for the Cardinals for six years and the thing I really appreciated about Red is that he never seemed to forget what it was like to be a player in making everybody feel important. [With] Sparky, you'd go to Lakeland to play in Spring Training, and he'd start out by showing you how to hit a wedge before the game. He goes "Come here, I'll show you something," and he'd take a wedge and hit some balls. Afterwards he'd stop me going off the field and he'd say, "You know, your third base coach should be doing this," or he'd say, "Did you think about doing that?" He was really the professor, he really cared. He wanted to make young managers better and we always appreciated that.
La Russa: I'm gonna take a little different slant about [my] mentor. There's someone I shared conversations with for 30 years, and I think that did as much or more. When you have someone that you can honestly ask a question - "Hey, here's a play, did I screw up or was I right?" and vice versa - [it] was Jim Leyland. We talked every week about what we were going through and we would run plays and get an honest answer. I think my relationship with Jim has been really, really important.
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