As two of the most successful skippers in modern times, it's odd that they haven't faced off more often. But 2008 marks the first season that they've been in the same league together. When La Russa was managing the White Sox and A's, Torre helmed the Mets, Braves and Cardinals. When La Russa came to take over the Cardinals, Torre took the reins of the Yankees.
Finally, they're in the same league. They chatted by phone on Wednesday, but once the games start this weekend, it will be all business.
"I've always enjoyed seeing him," La Russa said. "So you miss being around him. But you don't really match wits with the manager. It's your club against their club. Every manager just uses strategy based on the game and the players he has. Managers don't really compete. The teams do."
In six head-to-head meetings, Torre's Yankees went 4-2 against La Russa's Cardinals. Now the two managers will see each other six times a year. Their methods differ somewhat, with Torre known as a bit more easygoing than La Russa, but the respect is strong.
"I enjoy Tony a great deal," said Torre. "He works harder than almost any manager I know to have control of every element of the game. Players play hard for him. He's smarter than I am. He uses things like technology to try to get an edge. I just let the players play. He probably controls the game more than I do."
La Russa typically resists such suggestions, and he declined to compare styles.
"I would look at his success and think that whatever he's doing, he's done a lot of good things," La Russa said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.