Dodgers Manager Torre Announces Retirement

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Guest host Robert Smith talks to Howard Bryant of and ESPN the Magazine about Joe Torre's announcement that he will retire as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the season.


I've always wanted to say this: Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SMITH: One of baseball's legends is stepping off the diamond. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre announced yesterday that he'll retire at the end of season.� He's 70 years old.

Mr. JOE TORRE (Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers): You know, I manage a�lot by instinct, and I think you have to make decisions, sometimes, by instinct. And I just felt it was time to go.

SMITH: Another man with instinct, Howard Bryant of and ESPN the Magazine - he's gotten to know Torre well over the years, and he's with us from member station WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Good morning, Howard.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Good morning. How are you?

SMITH: Doing great.

So Torre's been with the Dodgers three years, but of course he's known best as the Yankees skipper who brought the team four championships. Not quite so successful with the Dodgers. Why didn't things work out?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I think they did work out with the Dodgers. I think one thing that you have to remember with the Dodgers is that here was an organization that had been down for so long, and Joe Torre managed for two full seasons, and they went to the NLCS both years. They hadn't done that in back-to-back years in 30 years. And so they didn't get to the World Series, but certainly having Joe Torre there changed everything.

SMITH: Yeah, but why not stay, then?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, obviously, because I think that - two things. I think one is that Joe is 70 years old, and it may be time. What does Joe Torre have to prove anymore? He doesn't have to prove anything to anyone.

I think his stay with the Yankees vindicated him in a way that even he didn't imagine. No player, no person in baseball history had ever managed and played more games than Joe Torre without going to a World Series - until 1996. It was an incredible second act for him.

Secondarily, the McCourts' divorce - with the Dodgers, it's so public, it's so ugly...

SMITH: The Dodgers' owners. Yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: The Dodgers owners. It's a disaster. And I don't think that Joe Torre really has the appetite for that. And why should he?

SMITH: Well, you know, if this is the end of his career - and you never know with Joe Torre - but he'll be remembered, and probably inducted into the Hall of Fame, for his Yankees years. You were covering the team in the early 2000s. I mean, how will he fit into the Yankee legacy?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I think the Yankee legacy is going to be secondary to what I take from Joe Torre the most - is the fact that without Joe Torre, baseball history changes dramatically, because he was on the founding search committee for the Baseball Players Association. He and Robin Roberts, the late Robin Roberts, were the folks who really discovered and backed Marvin Miller. And without Marvin Miller, baseball changes completely. And Joe Torre was one of the people who made sure he was there.

I think with the Yankees, sure, it didn't end the way he wanted it to end. But the thing that I took most with Joe, from covering him, was that there was a moment when he could've taken the high road and he really did give the Yankees legitimacy.

And when we look at George Steinbrenner, who just passed away a couple of months ago, it was Joe Torre who really changed a lot of the attitudes toward George Steinbrenner in deferring to him as the boss, and deferring to him as the guy who makes everything happen here - instead of completely clashing with the owner, as Billy Martin and Lou Piniella, and every other manager who'd ever managed under George Steinbrenner, had.

SMITH: So Howard, the Dodgers won't be without their pinstripe legacy. Former Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly will replace Torre. Quickly, how does he live up to his mentor?

Mr. BRYANT: By winning. And if he doesn't, then he won't.

SMITH: Of course, easy enough.

Howard Bryant of and ESPN the Magazine. Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. BRYANT: Thank you.

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