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Tracy dives into first postseason
10/05/2004 1:18 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Jim Tracy looked around the interview room deep in the bowels of Busch Stadium on Tuesday and drank in the experience. First playoff game as a Major Leaguer, coach or manager.

"The championship that I was part of as a manager back in 1993 prior to this was the most gratifying time in my career as a player, coach or manager," the Dodgers manager said before his team took the field for Game 1 of their National League Division Series. "This obviously transcends that a little bit. The media room in the Eastern League wasn't quite as large as this."

Harrisburg, Pa., and a spot in Double-A far down the Expos food chain is a long way from St. Louis and the postseason. Tracy's team won 94 games back then and 93 games this year to qualify.

Of the eight managers in this postseason, Tracy is one of three first-timers along with Boston's Terry Francona and Houston's Phil Garner.

Experience doesn't necessarily give anyone an edge, said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who has managed his way into the playoffs 10 times with the White Sox, Oakland A's and St. Louis.

"There's a couple of answers to that," La Russa said. "No. 1, it's always a game between players so the managers in none of these series are going to make a big difference. There isn't anybody managing any of the eight clubs that hasn't already learned to put guys in the right spot so it's really a players' series.

"About Jim, he coached (in Montreal) with Felipe (Alou). It's not like he's managed in some hideaway place where nobody pays attention. He manages for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's a historic franchise so he's made a lot of pressure decisions."

Tracy is finishing his fourth season at the Dodgers helm and he has a 356-292 regular-season record. During his tenure, the Dodgers had finished in third place twice and second place last season before clinching the NL West title this past Saturday over archrival San Francisco.

Prior to this season, the Dodgers had come close in the Wild Card race, but to no avail. Now they are seeking their first postseason win since the Dodgers defeated La Russa's A's to win the 1988 World Series.

"More so than from my standpoint, the gratification I feel is for the number of players who have been here while I've been managing," Tracy said. "A couple of years ago when we were trying to get here as a Wild Card and we won 92 games (2002), our third baseman (Adrian Beltre) was 22 years old, our shortstop (Cesar Izturis) was just starting in the Major Leagues, our second baseman (Alex Cora) was just getting a chance to play on a regular basis, and we had converted a starting pitcher (Eric Gagne) into a closer.

"These guys came up short in the past, but now they know what's like to get over the final hurdle. I couldn't be happier for these players."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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