By Ross Newhan
Approaching Tony LaRussa and Gene Mauch in a major league clubhouse was always a tricky business.
You couldn't always count on cordiality, but you certainly could count on an insightful reponse that was seldom a cliche.
In that regard, the retiring LaRussa and the late Mauch were in a special category among the managers I have covered during 50 years of writing about baseball, and that is no knock on Bill Rigney, Sparky Anderson, Walt Alston, Tom Lasorda, John McNamara, Bobby Cox and Mike Scioscia, who I also put in a very special category.
It's just that there was always an edge to LaRussa and Mauch, a degree of conceit, perhaps.
If you walked away feeling they had provided an answer beyond the scope of most managers, you could be certain that was what they were thinking as well.
Mauch didn't do the winning that LaRussa did, but he took undermanned teams in Philadelphia, Minnesota and Anaheim farther, perhaps, than they should have gone.
If LaRussa is deservedly headed to the Hall of Fame, Mauch should already be there.
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If Frank McCourt and Bud Selig are truly close to a settlement which will result in McCourt selling the Dodgers, the only word I can think of is one I have used before:
--Shame on Frank and Jamie McCourt for turning the Dodgers into their personal ATM, losing the support of a city that had always bled Blue and leaving a flagship franchise with no other course except bankruptcy court.
--Shame on Selig for bowing to the quick sale demands of Fox and approving the McCourts' highly leveraged purchase of the Dodgers despite repeated accounts in Boston and Los Angeles that the new owners really couldn't afford it and had a poor resume for following through on proposed projects, which is how we got to a place where now the commissioner has to find a billionaire speculator who doesn't live in Beijing.