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Tony La Russa’s success does not make him immune from criticism

Aug 3, 2011, 11:04 AM EDT

Tony La Russa Getty

Yeah, I got La Russa on my mind today.  And to be clear, as I always, always make a point of saying when I’m criticizing La Russa for something, I appreciate him as an all-time great manager. Honestly. He’s one of the best if not the best in my baseball-watching lifetime, and no one can argue the point.  A Hall of Famer if he had retired years ago, and a giant in the game no matter what your opinion of his style happens to be.

That said, he does drive me nuts, and no amount of success he has changes that.  And really, what’s got me fairly annoyed this morning are people on Twitter defending La Russa’s actions yesterday with “hey, he’s got more win than you do, pal!”  Well, no crap.  That’s totally beside the point.  I’m not arguing against his success, I’m arguing against his behavior and his style, which is often idiotic in spite of his success.

Or are we expected to give La Russa a free pass because he has won a lot of games?  “Well, Mr. La Russa, normally killing a hobo with your bare hands on the warning track is frowned upon, but seeing as though you’ve won championships in both leagues, our hands are tied to punish you.”

Nonsense. Dude acts like a knucklehead, he’s a knucklehead, and I don’t care how many wins he has.

Oh, and if you just can’t get enough of the La Russa bashing, here’s something worth perusing.

  1. The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Craig, you’re missing the point. Of course LaRussa’s wins and championships don’t make him immune from criticism. People are free to criticize him all they want. And those people are John McGraw, Connie Mack, and Sparky Anderson.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:16 AM

      Silly comment. That is like saying that the only people who can criticize a President are former Presidents.

      • The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        Really? How much more dripping does my sarcasm have to be? I thought the only language Canadians understood was sarcasm. You must be from Quebec.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        You are wrong on all counts.

      • cur68 - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        Sarcasm? Dude we do real well with irony (like; “hmmm, spring’s here. Better put the summer skis on the dog-sled” all muttered under the breath while drinking a beer and glaring at the snow falling). But our sarcasm detector has been glitchy since the Trudeau administration. Pity, too. I thought what you wrote was pretty funny, but I was unable to appreciate it while being airlifted for a mass leaching by the helicopter sized mosquitos that got in after the dog.

      • The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:58 AM


      • trevorb06 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Common man, I learned the hard way that this is a sarcasm free zone. No funny here. No sir.

  2. tolbuck - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    I’ve lost fewer games than LaRussa, so I can criticize him all I want. See, the logic cuts both ways.

    • The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      You can’t argue with that. Well played.

  3. dailyrev - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Agreed, even good mgrs. can fail. We saw Sciosa go deer-in-headlights the other day when he had the opportunity to get out to the mound, have a symbolic say with the ump and then tell Weaver, “listen, this is not vendetta time, we can still win this game.” And Tony got trapped in the near-insane intensity of that particular game last night (which later boiled over into outright, call-in-the-squirrels-the-nuts-are-bursting insanity thanks to Yadi Molina). The mgr. cannot become embroiled like that; he’s paid to be the cool hand that guides the young through their storms, and Tony failed at that last night. It didn’t cost him for that game, but if he fails to hear the lesson in it, it inevitably will cost him another time.

  4. birdsnblues - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    So….if they don’t agree with you …personally attack them…I’ll have to teach that to my 9 year old…

    • The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      No, your 9 year old will learn that in Middle School. Don’t spoil the surprise.

  5. deep64blue - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    “He’s one of the best if not the best in my baseball-watching lifetime, and no one can argue the point.”

    I would argue it, as has been said elsewhere most of his success has been not screwing up a talented roster, honestly he probably costs the Cards 1-2 wins a year.

    IMO he’s one of the most over rated Managers around,

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:40 AM

      “most of his success has been not screwing up a talented roster”

      Baseball history is littered with managers who couldn’t handle even this. Indeed, I’d argue that a manager’s primary job is not screwing up as opposed to doing something actively and affirmatively. La Russa is great at not screwing up for the most part. His tinkering is more annoying than it has been harmful.

    • professor59 - Aug 3, 2011 at 4:13 PM

      And that’s what Joe Torre was great at, making him one of the more underrated managers ever. Win World Series, make it look too easy, get fired.

  6. tashkalucy - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Successful people do what they do. And there is a reason for it. You can’t take what you don’t like about a persons approach and somehow expect them to succeed.

    Tony’s teams play baseball a certain way and that’s that. Take it or leave it.

    Tony is easily one of the top 10 managers I’ve seen in the 50 years I’ve been watching baseball. He’s done it for decades,

    Some guys will go against the book and put the winning run on base to pitch to another guy. So what? Just like LaRussa last night, the good ones will get away with it more times then not…..because they know the next hitter. And that next hitter is going to have doubt in his mind every time they face that manager in the future.

    • The Common Man - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      “Some guys will go against the book and put the winning run on base to pitch to another guy.”

      And sometimes that other guy will have to face Prince Fielder and walk him, thereby putting two on and nobody out. And then the next guy gets a base hit, loading the bases. And then somehow, you’re randomly able to defy the gods and probability and wiggle out of the inning with no runs scoring. Come on Craig, you have to respect LaRussa’s decision-making process because he didn’t die when he jumped off the bridge.

      • tashkalucy - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:24 PM


    • tashkalucy - Aug 3, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      I can see by the ups vs. downs that most of you people aren’t married.

      In order to stay married, one often has to accept actions a spouse takes that yu disapprove of,

  7. bravesman1983 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Well, Mr. La Russa, normally killing a hobo with your bare hands on the warning track is frowned upon, but seeing as though you’ve won championships in both leagues, our hands are tied to punish you.

    Oh, come on . . . you know this is a ridiculous analogy. I mean, how would a hobo even get into the stadium, let alone make his way onto the field?

  8. trevorb06 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    You better watch all that criticism or else his dad will get on here and chew you out and talk in the 3rd person. ttlarussa5

    Or worse yet his evil half brother Antonio De La Russa will come back for vengence.


  9. vikesfansteve - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Alcohol has rotted his brain.

  10. vikesfansteve - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    In that press conference he looked like the crazy neighbor who vandalizes other peoples homes & cars & has his dog do his thing in your yard because he perceived that you slighted him some way. Then he gets caught doing it red handed by a camera & denies it but admits that it would be warrented had he done it. Larussa is the type of guy who will shit on your doorstep, ring the bell & ask for toilet paper, wipe his ass & throw it on the doorstep too then deny it was him.

  11. losburrosinblue - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Ty Cobb was one of the best, if not the best, hitters baseball has ever seen. He was still a jerk (to put it a family-friendly way).

  12. shaggytoodle - Aug 3, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Can the MLB file complaints, I am pretty sure La Russa was cheating with the A’s and Cards when they had the likes of Canseco and Big Mac on thier squads

  13. natstowngreg - Aug 3, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    In more than 150 Nats games attended in person, I’ve only heard one manager booed by his own team’s fans. Guess who. And that’s despite the 2006 World Series win.

    At one game a couple of seasons ago, I had the misfortune to sit in front of an abusive Cards fan (fueled by several Buds), yelling from the RF line at LaRussa (in the 3B dugout). Until that time, I was unaware that abusive Cards fans existed.

  14. schmedley69 - Aug 3, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    LaRussa and Bobby Knight are apparently best friends. I always picture them liquored up at the local Hooter’s, making obnoxious comments to the waitresses and picking fights with the other customers.

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