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Can you hear me now? Bullpen phone mixup sinks Cardinals

Oct 25, 2011, 12:23 AM EDT

tony la russa and yadier molina cardinals AP

During his postgame press conference Tony La Russa shed light on the odd sequence of events that led to the Rangers taking the lead in the eighth inning, explaining that he stayed with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to face right-handed slugger Mike Napoli and then used Lance Lynn solely to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler because the bullpen coach never heard him call for Jason Motte to get warmed up.


According to La Russa the dugout first placed a call to the bullpen to have Motte warm up alongside Rzepczynski, which would have gotten him ready to face Napoli. However, bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist either never picked up the phone or didn’t hear the instruction correctly.

Later a second call was made, but Lilliquist once again misunderstood the instructions and, according to La Russa, thought he heard “Lynn” rather than “Motte” even though Lynn was only to be used in what the manager described as an emergency situation. “I saw Lynn and was like ‘OK, what are you doing here,'” La Russa explained, adding that crowd noise has caused similar problems at other ballparks.

So without Motte ready to pitch La Russa stuck with Rzepczynski, who allowed the go-ahead double to Napoli, and then brought in Lynn only to remove him after an intentional walk. Motte finally came in after that and did his job, striking out Elvis Andrus to the end the inning, but the damage had already been done.

And all because the calls from the dugout to the bullpen were misunderstood.

  1. flavius217 - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    A bizarre series of events on the field made even more bizarre by the ridiculous rationalizations of the manager during the postgame presser. La Russa needs to go. Now.

  2. Joe - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Allen Craig just said “I did what I was told.”

    That means both attempts are on Pujols or TLR, or Craig is lying.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:03 AM

      Jose Oquendo gives the signs. Has anyone asked him about it?

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        A.P. (and most of the Cardinals hitters) have the green light to give the signal while in the box. They have done so all year long as they tend to NOT strike out (fewest in NL) and as a a direct result of all the double plays they have hit into. So in a lot of cases…yes…they try to get the runners moving on there own. In this case…it is obvious based upon TLR’s reaction while speaking to Craig in the dugout, Craig looking back at AP while running to second…and by AP’s reaction while Craig was running. But I fully appreciate there are a great deal of people who love to ride the TLR “hatetrain” and will absolutely jump at the chance (while salivating at the mouths) to insinuate, assume and otherwise fail to even acknowledge that (yes)…bad plays and miss-communications do sometimes happen that have nothing to do with him.

  3. Kyle - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Sure, why not? It makes about as much sense as any of the managerial moves in this crazy weird exciting game.

  4. mkd - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    If it were any other manager I would totally call bullsh*t on this story, but Tony LaRussa? Blowing a chance to set up one of his precious matchups in a key situation? Never in a million years.

    What a crazy ass thing to have happened.

  5. canadaman54 - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    But hey, sure is nice they still use good old fashioned land lines in baseball.

    Even though a text message might have saved the World Series for the Cardinals…

  6. texanadeb - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Oh please! That is a totally stupid excuse for a team losing a game.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:02 AM

      He’s not making excuses. He’s explaining what happened. Because he’ll be questioned and second-guessed about it for the next year.So he’s facing the media and the fans and telling everyone what happened.

      Get over it.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:08 AM

        Made excuses AND threw the bullpen coach under the bus . . .

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        The responses of Texas and Mama are what I refer as the TLR “hatetrain.” The TLR “hatetrain” has now reached a point where those on board have no abilitly whatsoever to look and anything TLR related subjectively.
        All drama…all the time. Sort of “Jerry Springerish” if you will.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM

        St.Lou, I don’t care enough about TLR to hate him . . . it’s merely an observation.

  7. lookatthefarside - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    At least tony is kind to animals…

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM

      Mama: He did NOT make excuses OR throw Lilliquist under the bus. If you watched the postgame interview last night you would absolutely believe it. He didn’t call out his Bullpen coach. If anything…he made excuses for him. He gave the Rangers fans credit for the noise…talked about how loud they were and how close they are to the Cardinals bullpen. He also compared it to issues in Philadelphia. He also admitted (which shocked the hell out of me)…to having the same issue arise a few times during the regular season. Further, he said there isn’t anything you can do if the guy doesn’t hear you. Pretty simple…if he doesn’t hear you…he doesn’t hear you. When he called for Scrabble and Motte to warm up…Lilliquist didn’t hear Motte. The 2nd call…while Motte and Lynn certainly don’t sound similar…they are both one syllable names. With the noise…I can believe it. Should Liliquist have called back to clarify? Without a doubt. But he didn’t. Asked what he could do to prevent it from happening again…TLR said “I guess send smoke signals.” I thought wow…the old guy is lightening up a bit. Regardless…L.L. came in a threw an IBB to the ONLY batter he faced (BECAUSE HE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO PITCH). This alone should remove any doubt for those on the “Hatetrain.”

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      Mama: It isn’t a matter of whether one cares about him enough. It is a matter of one disliking a person so much that they are incabable of looking at things subjectively…regardless of the circumstances. As a result, they jump at the opportunity to criticize, question and in a lot of cases blatantly distort the facts.
      Hence…the “hatetrain.” All aboard! Chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, woo, woo!

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        I neither hate nor dislike him.
        In your world, does criticism = hate?
        Not in mine.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        Mama: Of course criticism doesn’t equate to “hate.” In fact, criticism (when give constructively) can be quite helpful. But that isn’t the point. The point is…based upon your numerous posts (starting just prior to game #1 of the NLDS if memory serves) it is blatantly obvious you don’t like him (hence my reference above to you (and others) disliking him to point of be unable to look at things subjectively…without bias). That pretty much sums up my perception.

  8. cur68 - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Using even the cheapest cell phone this could have been a text message to the’pen. Completely free of noise pollution your text message. A minor upgrade in phone and he could have tweeted his instructions…and don’t ell me he’s too old to learn to use a cell phone or twitter. He’s the smartest guy in the dugout.

    • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2011 at 6:53 AM

      This parade of peccadilloes follows charmingly upon the heels of Craig’s heartfelt tribute to the dugout phone, doesn’t it? This Luddite is delighted. No cell phone. No text messages. No more instant replay. Let’s embrace life, warts and all. Ohhhhhhmmmmmmmmm…..

      • cur68 - Oct 25, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        Yeah? Well the technophile is delighted too. Vindication for having a cell phone, at least as a back up, just to make sure the message goes through as intended. quaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrk…..

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      Your dead on Cur and this was something also discussed last night during the Cardinals post game.

  9. jkb0162 - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    Rzcepzynski and Motte do sound a lot a like…

    • cinfante54 - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:24 AM

      Someone needs a little more extra help with reading comprehension

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        You got it Cin. Reading comprehension AND doing their homework so they can look at (and respond to) things subjectively. Again though…when you are riding the “hatetrain” that can be hard to do. I can appreciate the difficulty though as once that locomotive get’s rolling it’s hard to stop it. After all…that’s why they have rail road crossing signs. LOL!

  10. mashoaf - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    Couldn’t he have called time if he didn’t like what he saw in the bullpen?

    • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:06 AM

      And do what?

      • mashoaf - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

        The obvious thing. If your bullpen coach can’t do the job with having the right guy warming up. Go out to your bullpen and get the right reliever up.

  11. Walk - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    And my dog ate my homework… That one never worked for me even when it was true. Looked like tlr was trying to get by not using his best pitchers because he did not have the lead. Same type of reasoning got Ron Washington in trouble in last years playoffs when he didnt use Neftali Feliz late in games in the playoffs when the rangers did not have the lead. Wash learned, question is did Tony?

  12. gugurich - Oct 25, 2011 at 5:38 AM

    I don’t buy this. I think he used Lynn to buy Motte extra time, more than than if Rzepczynski had issued the intentional walk himself. La Russa can’t however openly admit that the whole thing was a convoluted attempt to stall, hence the ol’ phone line ate my words excuse.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:41 AM

      Of course he did Gugurich. He admitted as much…cause’ AGAIN…Motte wasn’t warming up (hence the entire reason L.L. came out to begin with). Cause’ again…Lilliquist didn’t have Motte warming up. L.L. came out to IBB the batter for crying out loud. How does this NOT seem obvious to everyone? He IBB the ONLY batter he faced! Why? Cause’ he wasn’t supposed to even be warming up…let alone pitching.

  13. rcd1160 - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    You will never convince the Bullpen Coach sat back and let this happen. Phone or no phone. I agrre with gugurich……….stalling was the motive.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:16 PM

      The BP Coach sat back and let what happen? He didn’t hear Motte when TLR called the 1st time and instructed him to have Scrabble AND Motte warm up. Initally, not a big deal as Scrabble was going in. But when TLR called again and requested Motte…Lilliquist heard Lynn. Again…while they do NOT sound similar I can fully appreciate them both being (1) syllable names and the potential for him not hearing TLR correctly as a result of the crowd noise. You see bullpen coaches sticking a finger in their opposite ear all the time as a result of noise (because the bullpens are so close to the crowd). Should Lilliquist called back to confirm? Absolutely. But he didn’t. Further, TLR even admitted this has also happened a few times during the regular season (hence his reference to using smoke signals in the future to prevent it from happening again). Back to your comment about the Lilliquist “sitting back and letting this happen.” If you aren’t aware of their being a issue….if you don’t feel that you have misscommunicated…there wouldn’t be anything to “sit back and let happen.”

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