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Joe Torre in favor of expanded playoffs
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. (AP) - Joe Torre's biggest concern about expanding the playoffs is making certain division winners get rewarded for first-place finishes.
With commissioner Bud Selig's special committee set to meet Tuesday and consider how to add wild cards, the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager said he favored a switch from eight playoff teams to 10.
"I felt that winning a division didn't have as much clout as it probably should have," Torre said at a news conference with Lou Piniella and Cito Gaston, two other longtime managers who retired along with him in 2010.
Any change proposed by management would be subject to talks with the players' union, making change more likely for 2012 than next year. Union head Michael Weiner said last week that Major League Baseball should negotiate with the union before formulating a specific proposal.
"Three games in one place, two games in another, I don't think that's enough of a detriment," Torre said, referring to the current best-of-five division series format. "I'd like to make winning the division, because it is tough to do, I'd like to see them have a little more of an advantage."
Piniella backed expanded playoffs, as did Gaston.
"It will cause more interest at the end of the season," the former Blue Jays manager said. "Teams that are not in it could be in it."
Retired Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox also was scheduled to be at the news conference but left the winter meetings because of a family illness. Braves president John Schuerholz, like Torre a member of Selig's committee, took Cox's chair,
A new wild-card round likely would be best-of-three or single-game elimination.
"We'll make what we think is the really best decision for baseball," Schuerholz said. "There's a lot of issues to contemplate."
On other topics, Torre repeated he will not manage again and said he's had several offers to resume his career in broadcasting.
"At this point in time I'm sort of enjoying not having to make decisions, and I just put it off until after the first of the year," he said. "It certainly is tempting because it was something I did for six years and enjoyed it and certainly wouldn't have the schedule that a manager has. But I'm not sure. I don't want to commit and be sorry I did something. I'm just going to give myself as a long a time as possible."
Torre also has the option of working for Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.
"He'll make a place for me if that's what I decide to do," he said.
Even though he ended his career with the Dodgers, Torre is most identified with the Yankees, the team he managed to four World Series titles in 12 seasons. He told a story of a fan he encountered in an elevator of a Boston hotel that illustrated the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
"He says, `You know, if I had a choice of capturing Saddam Hussein or beating the Yankees, I would pick beating the Yankees,' and he walks out of the elevator," Torre said. "Gives you an idea what goes on in that town."
Selig praised the four managers being honored at the winter meetings.
"They're role models for all who aspire to manage in the big leagues," he said. "Between them they have won eight World Series championships, 14 pennants, and 93 combined seasons."
Piniella hasn't thought about working for his hometown Tampa Bay Rays,
"I've done a little fishing, played a little golf," he said. "We're moving into a new home. I've enjoyed my family, so we'll see what the future brings. ... Right now I'm just enjoying what I'm doing, which is nothing."
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