There are certain people in sports that you naturally love and others that you love to hate. Tony La Russa, for my money, falls into the latter category. Now, it'd be easy for me to sit here and say it's because of his managerial style of slapping a revolving door outside the bullpen and letting every pitcher on the roster face at least one batter per game. And I know that, for a lot of the La Russa haters out there, that is the primary reason that they dislike the guy — like this guy, for instance.
But it's hard to criticize a guy for doing something like that when he has the numbers and hardware to back up those moves. After all, a 5,097-2,728 record, four Manager of the Year awards, and two World Series titles speak for themselves. I know that, as a fan, I want my team to win all the time. If that means my manager wants to extend every game by about an hour on average, I am willing to suck it up.
However, I can certainly see how such a excessive amount of moves on a regular basis would irritate the opposition. Watching some of those games in the NLDS and seeing La Russa stroll out of the dugout every 5 minutes made me want to rip my hair out due to the anxiety and impatience I was experiencing as my Phillies were dismissed one tormenting matchup at a time. But if I'm managing a team I couldn't give a damn less about what the opposition thinks-or anyone for that matter. Being an MLB manager means winning games or being out of a job. And La Russa has certainly proven that he knows how to win games.
To be honest, I think that La Russa's managerial style of playing matchups for the final third of nearly every game has been pretty effective, despite the failure of said strategy in Game 2 on Thursday night. When I think about it, if I were a MLB relief pitcher, it would certainly be easier to think about my job as having to retire one batter than getting too ahead of myself and melting down on the mound. In a lot of La Russa's moves, that's the case-the guy gets one batter. Whether he can retire the guy or not, a lot of the times he's gone after that one batter. That simplistic approach seems fitting for the fragile minds of MLB relievers.
So then why do I love to hate Tony La Russa? Because of his unbelievable ego.
It seems to me that, in his own mind, La Russa is the sole reason that his teams win games.
Have you ever listened to a press conference with this guy? He is just about as arrogant as they come. He projects no emotion; rather, he is a robot who does not feel the need to justify any of his moves whether they work out or not. And, to a degree, this can be a refreshing in that he is confident in what he is doing out there. But when he bats the pitcher 8th in the lineup or gets in a well-timed complaint to the media in the middle of a game to try and call attention to how his team is getting shafted on strike calls (cough, cough, Game 2 of NLDS), that just irritates me. You're not bigger than the game, and you're not reinventing the game. At some point, it comes down to players on the field executing the things that they are paid exorbitant amounts of money to do. But it seems to me that, in his own mind, La Russa is the sole reason that his teams win games. I'd argue that Albert Pujols is much more of a factor in the day to day success of the Cardinals than La Russa is.
The worst part about the Cardinals being in the World Series is that there's a 50% chance that they win it all. If that happens, the media is going to bow down to La Russa and declare him the new Father of Baseball.
If there are in fact baseball gods looking down, I hope that they hear this one prayer: if the Cardinals win the World Series, let it be on the backs of the players who played the game, and not due to some off-the-wall scheme created by La Russa. Because I swear to God, if this thing goes seven games and he decides to hit his pitcher 8th and then ends up throwing Jon Jay on the mound to get the final out of the game because Jay might have a good knuckleball that he's been working on or some crazy shenanigans like that, I am going to take a year-long sabbatical from Major League Baseball.
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Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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