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Could We See La Russa Return as the Yankees Manager?

By Mike Silva ~ November 2nd, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Yankees.

Tony La Russa said his days of managing are over when he announced his retirement on Monday. I don’t want to call La Russa a liar, but 33 years of doing something doesn’t leave your blood overnight. Bill Parcells retired and came back a few times. Phil Jackson didn’t stay away from the NBA very long. Don’t forget how Jack McKeon made a return this year at the age of 81, just eight years after he won a World Series at the age of 73. Before his Florida experience he came back to manage the Reds in 1997 after a seven year layoff. Never say never, and what someone is feeling today doesn’t necessarily mean they will feel the same way a month, year, or three years down the line. Could we see Tony La Russa manage again? I certainly can. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he made a comeback here in New York managing the Yankees.

If La Russa returns it won’t be for a long-term rebuilding project. It will be for a team that can win now and needs someone to get them over the hump. Joe Girardi is heading into the second year of a three year deal that runs through 2013. Back-to-back postseason failures with teams that were favored to win have taken away some of his equity built after the 2009 World Series title. When you factor in his poor people skills, tight demeanor and prickly relationship with the media, you could see him on the hot seat as early as this coming season. Imagine the Yankees play tight and down to their competition in the ALDS again in 2012? Imagine if Tampa and Boston move ahead of them and they miss the playoffs ala 2008? There would be little doubt Girardi would be gone even with another year on his deal. The only reason Joe Torre survived post 2000 was the equity he built with the 4 titles in the late nineties. If not for that run he very well could have been fired after the first round exit to Anaheim in 2002. In the end, you get the sense that Girardi just doesn’t have the personality to manage in New York long -term. If he does survive it certainly won’t be as long as Torre did.

Bill Madden reported back in 2007 that La Russa was the preferred choice of George Steinbrenner to take over for Torre. The Boss isn’t around anymore, but his sons are and they were already involved with the organization at that time so you have to reason they may feel the same way about TLR. The Yankees would be a readymade situation for La Russa: New York, large payroll, star studded team, and the ability to pass John McGraw and win a 4th championship; all while wearing the famed pinstripes. Perhaps his Q-Rating, not always great with the media, would be improved on a national stage. On a personal note the big stage would also help with the charitable work he does advocating animal rights. The biggest question would be whether his personality and ego mesh with the “command and control” nature of the Brian Cashman Yankees? Anyone who read “The Yankee Years” knows it wasn’t easy for Joe Torre towards the end of his tenure. Throughout his career La Russa has always been bigger than his GM. Could the Yankees and Cashman handle that “back to the future” scenario? If it means a championship I suspect they could.

La Russa claims he was ready to retire as early as mid-season. Again, I have to take him at his word, but he always comes across as a baseball lifer; someone that needs the uniform ripped off to get him to finally leave. Sixteen years in one place is an eternity in sports. Five years these days is a decent life cycle for any manager. Maybe La Russa knew it was time to leave St. Louis. I don’t know if he truly would walk away from the game. Something tells me we will see Tony La Russa again. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in Yankees pinstripes.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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9 Responses to Could We See La Russa Return as the Yankees Manager?

  1. Stu B

    Seems like every big-name player or manager who leaves or has a chance to leave his team draws speculation connecting him to the Yankees. In the case of “mainstream media” types – those who write for the tabloids – I wonder if it’s a case of being the first to toss the idea out there so that on the chance it actually happens down the road, that writer will think he looks good for some kind of “scoop.” Also the old saying that if you throw enough stuff against a wall, some will actually stick.

  2. Brien Jackson

    God knows I’m not Girardi’s biggest fan, but I don’t know why you keep embarrassing yourself with this nonsense.

  3. swedski

    Nothing here. Larussa and Torre are done, let them enjoy the time, Giardi’s Ok this team wins or loses on their own not on the play calling G makes. Now if there was less talent it might be different.

  4. Ken Bland

    Here’s Parcells reaction to the LaRussa retirement.


  5. Ralph C

    I don’t see this happening. The two biggest criticisms of Girardi I hear are:1) He does not handle the press well, and 2) he overmanages. LaRussa is the same type of manager (maybe worse) in those regards and unlike Girardi has no real ties to the Yankees to fall back on (at least Girardi hit the big triple in the 1996 World Series clincher).
    Also, why does LaRussa need the aggrevation of New York? He can only harm his legacy by coming here, not help it. If he wins, it will be because of the Yankees huge payroll and if he loses, he’ll be ripped for not winning with that payroll.

  6. MajorBLeague

    You can’t say that La Russa will do well here. You also can’t say that Girardi isn’t doing a good job. It’s true he’s not the best manager out there, but he makes the right moves. He and Cashman have kept this team in contention for the past 3 years now. You can make all the right moves and still lose. It’s not Girardi’s fault what happened in the 2011 ALDS, it was the players. Managers dont win ballgames, players do. Girardi is just fine.

  7. UncleMario

    Would Cincinnati Reds General manager Walt Jocketty (the man who brough LaRussa to St. Louis) be a factor as well?

  8. Dan

    Good idea. Let Joe manage the Cubs.

  9. UncleMario

    Joe going to manage the Cubs could be a moot since Theo Epstein is talking to Terry Francona.

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