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Dodgers vs. Cubs – Torre vs. Pinella

by @ 11:42 pm on September 30, 2008. Filed under Baseball, Sports

Two old baseball hands, both of whom have taken teams to the World Series more than once, will face off in the first round of the NLDS:

CHICAGO — Lou Piniella is 65 years old, and he cannot stand still. When Piniella talks to a visitor around the batting cage, he stuffs his hands in his back pockets and shuffles back and forth, side to side, kicking one sneaker against the other, sometimes spreading his arms wide to make a point. His eyes dart from the cage to the stands to his guest. He is constant motion.

Joe Torre is 68, and he acts more like it. When Torre takes the field, he is still. He will stand in the same spot for as long as the conversation lasts, his left hand in the pocket of his warm-up jacket, his right hand holding a cup filled with green tea. He mostly stares straight ahead. He is placid personified.

“They have two different personalities,” said Mariano Duncan, who has played for both and coaches for Torre’s Los Angeles Dodgers, “but both of those guys have a lot of success managing in the major leagues.”

Piniella and Torre, opposites in the obvious ways, are linked by that trait. Torre is seventh on the list for career victories by a manager, and Piniella is 11th. No other playoff manager ranks in the top 65.

Piniella’s Cubs will host Torre’s Dodgers when their National League division series opens Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster will face the Dodgers’ Derek Lowe in Game 1.

I’ll admit to having a soft spot for both of these guys.

Torre, of course, because he was the manager of the Yankees during one of the greatest periods in franchse history and took the team to six World Series, of which they won four.

Lou Pinella, though, was a New York Yankee in the 1970s when I really became a baseball fan. He was part of the team that won back-to-back World Series in 1977 and 1978 and, while he may not have gotten the credit that players like Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph got for that success, he was always a fan favorite and still gets cheered when he appears in New York.

So in some sense I’ll be happy no matter which team wins this series. Yea, I’d like to see the Dodgers win only because it will continue Joe Torre’s silent revenge against the crap that the Steinbrenner brothers pulled on him last October. But, I’ll be okay if Sweet Lou and the Cubbies take it all the way too.

In either case, cheering on the Dodgers and the Cubs will be a welcome distraction from what is increasingly becoming a terribly annoying Presidential campaign.

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