Of the three, Torre seems the most worthy of a plaque, but primarily because he was also a nine-time All Star catcher and third baseman. He also won an MVP award in 1971.
However, "Clueless Joe," as the headlines blared after he took over the Yankees job in 1996, never won even a pennant in his previous twenty years of managing.
While I will give Joe a ton of credit for keeping owner George Steinbrenner at bay while doing a balancing act around all the egos he managed in the Bronx, he inherited a playoff-caliber team that was built by the handywork of Gene Michael and Buck Showalter while The Boss was suspended for two years. Soon there after, Torre would also be the benefactor of managing a team which annually had, by far, the biggest payroll in the majors.
Still, it's hard to argue with nine all-star appearances as a player and four World Series titles as a manager in the expanded playoff era.
Bobby Cox? Spare me all the consecutive division titles. The Atlanta Braves were built for the expanded playoff era with three surefire HOF pitchers--Maddox, Glavine and Smoltz--and a lineup which consistently had a mix of speed and power. The bottom line is that, despite all those regular season wins Cox oversaw--he finished with just one World Series championship.
Cox did finish among the top ten managers in wins, so this feels more like a lifetime achievement award to me.
And that brings us to Tony LaRussa, winner of three World Series titles in thirty years. Of the three managers, LaRussa may have been the best. He managed in the small markets of Oakland and St. Louis and did his best work with the Cardinals, making them consistent contenders with limited payroll.
Oakland? The "Anabolics," as radio personality Steve Somers still calls them, were on the cutting edge of the steroid era with Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. So Tony gets an asterisk for the job he did there. Still, credit LaRussa for turning Eckersley into a reliever and helping him achieve his own HOF status.
What's sad is how Marvin Miller keeps getting passed over. The three most influential baseball men of all-time are Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Marvin Miller. They transformed the game in their own ways like nobody else. It's shocking that a veteran's committee wouldn't vote in Miller, who ushered in the free agency era and lined those former players' pockets. Perhaps his day will come.
And for all of you beating the Steinbrenner drum? Please. The latest 20 year Yankee dynasty began in spite of him with the aforementioned job turned in by Gene Michael and, to a slightly lesser extent, Buck Showalter. The Boss eventually learned the good sense to let his baseball people, Torre included, run his team. Otherwise, he simply outspent the other owners.
Steinbrenner genuinely cared about the team, the fans, and the city of New York, but does that really qualify him for the HOF?
And for Pete's sake, hasn't Charlie Hustle suffered enough?!