KANSAS CITY -- When the All-Star Game festivities were at an end on Tuesday night and the National League's 8-0 victory over their American League counterparts was in the books, Commissioner Bud Selig made sure to seek out NL manager Tony La Russa.The two met on the steps leading out of the NL dugout on the third-base side of Kauffman Stadium, and Selig gave the now-retired manager a big bear hug. "He's a great manager," Selig said admiringly. "He's had a great career."
And now that one facet of that career is over, another will continue. La Russa said he's working for Major League Baseball as Selig's assistant for special assignments. With this one over, he said he's working on another project he declined to define."It's like 'Mission Impossible,'" La Russa said. "He's going to have to send me something to see what's next." Selig tapped Joe Torre and La Russa to work in the Commissioner's office once their managing days ended. La Russa's Cardinals defeated the Rangers in a thrilling seven-game World Series last October, and only days later, he announced his retirement after 33 years of managing. Tuesday night, at age 67, was his encore. Torre retired after 29 years as a manager following the 2010 season with the Dodgers, and signed on as MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. A player with a .297 average to show for his 18 big league seasons, Torre's encore will come on the field next spring. Selig asked Torre to manage Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Like La Russa, Torre accepted. There's good reason for Selig to be so attentive. The two won 12 pennants and seven World Series between them. They also sit on Selig's 14-man special committee that makes recommendations for changes to baseball's on-field product. Torre will turn 72 on July 18, Selig 78 on July 30. They are all members of the same baseball generation. "The Commissioner is very good to Joe and myself," La Russa said. "He pays his respects as far as soliciting our opinion. He knows we have a hundred years of experience. And we certainly give our respect back to him." La Russa said his future plans include working again in some executive capacity for a ballclub, "because I love winning and losing." But right now, he seems content. La Russa was happy to don his famous No. 10 again, but for a moment on Monday, as controversy surrounded his NL player selections and lineup decisions, Selig wondered good-naturedly whether it was worth the headache. Those who are regularly around the Commissioner know he likes to poke fun at the people who are close to him. "I'd like to rip Tony today, but I won't," Selig said during his annual MLB.com Internet chat. "No, he's working out great, both he and Joe Torre. We all had dinner last night, and it's just a pleasure to be around them. What you're looking at are two Hall of Fame managers." La Russa laughed at that comment. But he wondered whether Selig's postgame reaction on Tuesday night was pretty visceral. "He knew that he had made a tough decision," La Russa said when asked about the big hug. "I think there was special pressure on him because he picked a guy to manage who's out of baseball. It could have been an embarrassing day or something. But I thought, for an 8-0 game, it was a pretty good show. "That was a tremendous gesture for him to do this. He didn't have to do this at all."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.