Dodgers get a shin­ing star, but will they get A-rod?

Mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion re­mains where Ro­driguez will end up

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Tim Dahlberg

If the sight of Joe Torre in Dodger blue for the first time was a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing, see­ing him stand­ing in cen­ter field at Chavez Ravine wear­ing Steve Gar­vey’s num­ber, while hug­ging Tommy Lasorda and lis­ten­ing to Vin Scully rhap­sodize about it all, seemed down­right odd.

Nearly as odd as see­ing Alex Ro­driguez play­ing third base in Dodger Sta­dium, but that’s a sight that will have to wait for an­other day.

There was a time when the Dodgers hated the Yan­kees, the Yan­kees hated the Dodgers, and any­one with ei­ther or­ga­ni­za­tion would rather walk across the street than have to say hello to each other. But a half cen­tury on op­po­site coasts damp­ened the ri­valry, es­pe­cially in re­cent years as the Yan­kees en­joyed suc­cess and the Dodgers en­joyed tak­ing Oc­to­ber off.

Now the con­sum­mate Yan­kees man­ager will man­age a team he grew up de­spis­ing. Even more in­trigu­ing for long­suf­fer­ing Dodgers fans is there might come a time in the near fu­ture when his for­mer third base­man joins him.

All’s fair th­ese days in the mer­ce­nary world of base­ball, some­thing Grady Lit­tle dis­cov­ered about the same time he found out he wasn’t go­ing to be man­ag­ing the Dodgers any longer. The only pos­i­tive thing about Lit­tle’s de­par­ture was teams can now fire their man­agers the same way busi­nesses get rid of CEO’s, by hav­ing them re­sign to pur­sue other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

There prob­a­bly won’t be many more op­por­tu­ni­ties for Lit­tle to man­age on a ma­jor league level af­ter fail­ing to cash in with ei­ther the Dodgers or the Bos­ton Red Sox. Still, no­body among the bub­bly crowd at Dodger Sta­dium on Mon­day seemed all that sad to see him go.

How could they when a team des­per­ate for cred­i­bil­ity bought some, and more, with Torre, whose for­mal de­but took place in the out­field be­cause there were so many me­dia com­ing they wouldn’t fit any­where else.

There in cen­ter­field, where Torre re­mem­bered fly­ing out more than once to Wil­lie Davis, East Coast charm met West Coast cool. It was a love­fest as sappy as those filmed just up the road in Hol­ly­wood.

Only in Tin­sel­town would the sun break out of the fog just as Torre was putting on his uni­form for the first time, lead­ing some to sug­gest Torre might have even more pow­ers than the Dodgers thought he did.

The irony of a guy from Brook­lyn lead­ing the Dodgers as they cel­e­brate their 50th an­niver­sary in Los An­ge­les wasn’t lost on Torre, who grew up a fan of the New York Gi­ants and ended up as man­ager of their two big­gest ri­vals.

“You al­ways mea­sured your­self by the Dodgers be­cause they did ev­ery­thing right,” Torre said. “They had a stature you looked up to.”

Not any­more they don’t.

Last sea­son they col­lapsed to­ward the end with the vet­er­ans bick­er­ing with the rook­ies, and they have won only one post­sea­son game since Lasorda and the Kirk Gib­son Dodgers beat the Oak­land A’s in the World Se­ries 19 years ago.

It will be Torre’s task to fix that, and the Dodgers got a pack­age deal for their money, with both heir ap­par­ent Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa fol­low­ing him to Los An­ge­les. And it’s not like he has a bare cup­board, with a po­ten­tially strong pitch­ing staff and core of young hit­ters led by Al­lS­tar catcher Rus­sell Martin.

The in­evitable ques­tion, of course, is whether A-Rod fol­lows him on his jour­ney west.

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