Three guesses what Tony La Russa did during his first summer of retirement.

No, not yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

No, not obsessing over his fantasy team.

"I've been traveling as much or more," La Russa said recently from New York, where he was beginning a tour to promote his book "One Last Strike."

Sometimes he travels as an envoy for baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who favors emissaries dropping in on teams from time to time to field any questions, concerns or complaints.

"There's something to watching other clubs and observing competition through different eyes," La Russa said. "I've had a pretty good record for the home team."

For a couple weeks in late June and July he was involved with selecting and managing the National League All-Star team.

"You know going in there's no free lunch," said La Russa, who was pilloried by New York fans and media for selecting the Giants' Matt Cain as the starting pitcher over Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. He also received criticism from Cincinnati players and manager Dusty Baker for omitting the Reds' Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto from the roster.

In his book, La Russa writes, without mentioning Baker by name, that "different opinions are part of managing, but making it personal was not acceptable. ... Besides destroying a relationship, it simply reminded me that I had indeed made the right decision to retire."

By phone, he elaborated. "The way to answer (criticism) is to win, and we won. It couldn't have worked out better. There were a half-dozen Cardinals there, the coaching staff. It was a really nice reunion."

And sometimes, he said jokingly, he travels because his wife and kids want him out of the house.

"I come home and after two or three days, all of a sudden there's a suitcase by the door," he said. "A couple days after that, all of a sudden it's on the porch."

He has indulged himself a couple activities he couldn't have managed as skipper of the Cardinals. One was visiting the spring training facilities in Arizona built since 1995, his last spring there with the A's. He also attended the June 24 NASCAR event at Infineon Raceway.

Currently he is on a 15-day tour to promote his new book (he'll have events in the Bay Area from Thursday-Monday). So he hasn't had much time to miss managing yet. He confesses he may have a pang or two when the playoffs, his favorite time of season, begin.

"Yeah, actually," said La Russa, who added he had just been on a radio show where he was asked if he would consider coming back if he had to manage only the postseason. "As much as I enjoyed it, it would be something to consider. But it's never going to happen."

Author! Author!
Tony La Russa will promote his new book "One Last Strike" at the following Bay Area locations:
Thursday: Copperfield's in Petaluma
Friday: Book Passage in Corte Madera; Rakestraw Books in Danville
Saturday: Costco in Fremont
Sunday: Books Inc. in San Francisco
Monday: Kepler's Books in Menlo Park