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Tony La Russa: The World Series And Why He's Happy Watching, Not Managing

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TONY LA RUSSA
Three-time World Series champion manager Tony La Russa says "You do miss the relationships, but I don't miss the dugout and the winning and losing." | AP

Tony La Russa won three World Series championships during his 32-year tenure as a manager in Major League Baseball. Last season, he captured his second with the St. Louis Cardinals, and is one of two managers all-time to win World Series titles in each league. La Russa, 68, who recently wrote a book, One Last Strike, caught up with The Huffington Post to discuss what it's been like to watch the playoffs from afar and what he expects to see the rest of the way between San Francisco and Detroit.

What has it been like for you watching the postseason away from the dugout?

You sit upstairs and you second-guess everything you see; it looks so easy up there -- the hitters, the pitchers, the managers, the pitching coach -- that's why the game is so much fun for fans. I've been having that kind of fun, but I have not missed the dugout, at all. I haven't missed the winning and losing. I have gotten a little tingle because October is so special. But I don't miss the dugout.

Is that because of the winning and losing, or the camaraderie between you and your players?

That's a good question, because the thing you do miss are the relationships, that is true. In St. Louis, we put an emphasis on the team and family feeling, the challenge and the responsibilities of being in the dugout. I had enough of it, and it was time to pass the torch.

How much do you speak with former players and the Cardinal staff?

There is a fine line. I would not appreciate a lot of distractions. I haven't been in the clubhouse one time yet the whole season. I mean, I visited, and I communicate with the players, supporting them. The guys that are there every day watching the ball club have the best feel, so it hasn't been necessary for me to get involved.

What do you expect throughout the rest of this series?

The thing you learn is that you can have an expectation, but it's who plays the best. One good point to make is that you can never dial out the emotion of a series. Human nature determines a lot of what goes on. You can feel heroic, and confidence is just oozing; you do things on a consistent basis that you can't normally do. There's an emotion that can float both ways in one of these short series, especially when there is so much at stake. You get it for you and it's like, 'Something is going to happen.' Somebody will hit a blooper -- ball hits third-base like it did with [Angel] Pagan in Game 1. The other side is, nothing goes our way, we make a pitch and a guy gets a base-hit off the end of the bat.

In October baseball, there is a significant element of mental and competitive toughness that is so tested. If you can keep preaching it, it may make a difference. And to me, the most fascinating part of it is coaching that. On the negative side, if you can fight it and fight it, you start winning. You got to grab it by the neck and squeeze it until you finish. If you back off, that edge can get away.

What is your take on the 2-3-2 format? Does it provide an advantage to one team or the other?

If you're going to win, you have to win on the road. Champions win on the road. I believe in the end, the two most important factors are recognizing the urgency of a short series so that you literally take every at-bat and defensive inning like the game is decided. The second one is that you have that championship toughness.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report.

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