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The trouble with Tony La Russa

Jul 30, 2010, 4:38 PM EDT

This column from Anthony Schafer at The Riverfront Times — analyzing his pitching moves on one recent night — basically records and replays my inner monologue every time I watch a game managed by Tony La Russa:

This isn’t just about two players; this is about who is really important
in winning and losing. What this move says is that the players
themselves almost don’t matter at all, that the only thing that really
matters is how well the manager can fit his puzzle pieces together.

But after I have that inner monologue I always say to myself “man, that sonofabitch sure has won a lot of baseball games.”

I’ll never resolve this conflict. I’ll never know if his micromanagerial moves really hurt his teams long term or if they’re mere annoyances. I suspect they more than wash out with the good things he does because, let’s face it, you can’t be as wrong as I like to pretend Tony La Russa is and have the kind of success he’s had. This is really my issue, not his.

I don’t think enough about La Russa for him to qualify as my white whale. He’s something, though.

(thanks to Sara K — who used to comment like crazy in these parts back when she lived in the hinterlands, but doesn’t anymore now that she’s in California — for the link)

  1. Stork Theodore - Jul 30, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    It’s true he’s won a lot of games. However, his success at Oakland was achieved greatly on the backs of three admitted steroid users. LaRussa, the quintessential micro-manager, claims to have had no knowledge that Giambi, Canseco, and McGwire were juicing; the fact that his claim has been accepted by members of the sports media says a lot about how hero worship affects the credibility of what is “reported” to us. McGwire used steroids in St Louis, too, but LaRussa was oblivious to that as well. He did know Josh Hancock was abusing alcohol, but LaRussa, who had his own problems with booze, seems to have dealt with Hancock’s problem by trying to cover it up. Pardon me if I’m not on the “LaRussa for Hall of Fame” bandwagon.

  2. Paper Lions - Jul 30, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    LaRussa has always had talented teams and he has always had Dave Duncan. I think one could argue that Duncan has been more instrumental in the winning of games LaRussa has managed than LaRussa.
    A lot of players find Tony difficult to play for, this years team looks joyless, they have no fire, they spend entire games giving away ABs. Tony’s domineering and micromanaging style irks more than a few players.

  3. Glenn - Jul 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    You could argue that LaRussa’s teams have underachieved. And maybe he missed Pujol’s incredible muscle gain and enlarged cranium before his breakout season. He’s got practice with the old blinders.

  4. Nick C - Jul 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Baseless accusation. You sir are an idiot. You must be a Cubs fan.

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