11/14/09 11:36 AM EST
Torre was rooting for Yanks in World Series
Dodgers' manager excited familiar faces won Fall Classic
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Now two seasons removed from his 12-year run behind the big manager's desk in the Bronx, the Dodgers' skipper said that he was happy the Yankees have finally accomplished the goal that they thirsted for since Torre's last championship in 2000.
"To watch what they've done with Joe Girardi at the helm really made me feel good, even though I'm supposed to be a National League fan and all that stuff," Torre said. "When you're as close to these guys as I've been for all these years, I was just really pleased for them."
Of course, part of Torre wished that he could have been there. It was the Phillies who knocked off the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, securing their date in the World Series and waiting for the Yankees to clinch against the Angels.
"It was surreal. There's no question," Torre said. "It's not very often that you're someplace for 12 years like I was and then all of a sudden, 14 years later, you're looking up there and seeing a lot of familiar faces."
Torre's former bench coach Don Zimmer, now a senior advisor with the Rays, said he was also cheering hard for the Yankees. Girardi broke in as a rookie catcher with Zimmer's Cubs in 1989 and went along with him to Colorado in '93 before continuing with the Yankees in '96.
"I was pulling so hard," Zimmer said. "I spent the first 10 years he was in the big leagues, we were together. Joe's quite a man and a very good friend of mine. I was happy for him and I was happy for the Yankees."
Zimmer noticed the scrutiny on Girardi was intense during the Fall Classic, and he said that he was pleased the manager was vindicated in the end.
"He took a lot of heat from the media during the Series," Zimmer said. "I remember all that. [The media was] second-guessing every move he made. If they'd have lost, I'm sure he'd have heard more. Now that he won, he's on top of the world. That's the way baseball works. I was so tickled he was right."
In a way, the fact that Torre did not have to manage against the Yankees relieved him of a sticky situation, though he knew a lot of family and friends in the area were pulling for a Dodgers-Bombers World Series.
"Once it was over with, I was wondering," Torre said. "[I was] trying to think in my mind, 'Derek Jeter hitting and I'm trying to get him out.' It'd be the first time I pulled against this guy."
Torre won't have to wait all that long. He'll get to try and prevent Jeter and Jorge Posada from getting hits -- and perhaps hope that Mariano Rivera blows a save -- next June 25-27 at Dodger Stadium, when the Yankees and Dodgers meet in an Interleague series.
In the meantime, Jeter said that he received a congratulatory text message from "Mr. T" and that it is becoming less strange to not think of him as the Yankees' manager.
"He's learning, huh? That's all he does is text," Jeter said. "It's been a while. I still think very, very highly of him. That goes without saying. But I think I'm kind of used to it about now."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.