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La Russa’s Game 5: Age? Medication? Exhaustion? Or does stuff just happen?

Oct 26, 2011, 12:02 PM EDT

2011 World Series Game 4 -Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a provocative column today, trying to drill down into why, exactly, things got out of Tony La Russa’s control in Game 5.  It goes in a direction that I’ve not seen anyone take — and I predict that Bernie will catch some serious hell from some quarters for even raising the issue — but he asks whether La Russa is burnt out or, alternatively, whether his medical treatment for shingles has caused him to lose an edge.

Please read the column before you spout off. It’s measured and reasoned and ultimately Bernie is, I think, correct in saying that it’s silly to make any definitive judgment about anything based on a couple of mistakes in a single game. Miklasz himself calls the notion that La Russa is done or close to it “ridiculous.” I agree.

But they are questions that, even if they’re not germane to La Russa at this particular time are germane to any person in a stressful job as they get older. Every general, public official, coach, teacher, executive, factory worker and every other person in a position of power, influence and responsibility reaches a point where it’s not as easy to do what used to come so easily. If it’s burnout it could come at age 30, not 70. If it’s exhaustion it could come and then go with some rest.  If it’s age, well, there isn’t a hell of a lot we can do about that yet.

But it’s worth asking the question. Brave column, Bernie.

  1. mdpickles - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Rally beers can cause mumbling and miscommunication.

    • vikesfansteve - Oct 26, 2011 at 10:28 PM

      yep. He got out of a DUI in Walnut Creek CA when he was with the A’s because he was friends with the judge & DA. Not so much luck in FL when they find you asleep at the wheel.

      The dude can’t hold his sauce.

      Amy Winehouse thinks he drinks too much.

  2. halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    “… but he asks whether La Russa is burnt out or, alternatively, whether his medical treatment for shingles has caused him to lose an edge.”

    “…correct in saying that it’s silly to make any definitive judgment about anything based on a couple of mistakes in a single game.”

    Both of these statements contradict one another. It’s clear that by throwing these unbased lies out there, he is passing definitive judgement.

    I have never seen one manager so scrutinized in all my life. I hope LaRussa says the hell to all of the media and just retires after this year. At 70 years old, he should just say F it. It’s not worth it.

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      Did you read the column?

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        I didn’t need to. Craig highlighted in his summary what the writer’s thoughts were. It’s clear that this writer is thowing crap at a wall, infering that medication caused LaRussa to make bad managing decisions. It baseless, irresponsible writing. Borderline libel, if you ask me.

        I won’t give this writer an internet hit on his drivel.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        You know what this reminds me of. It’s the same irresponsible writing that led to the articles written in Boston and nationally about Tito Francona and his possible “addiction” to pain killers that could possibly affected his managing of the Red Sox. No doctor reports. Just baseless assumptions.

      • jjschiller - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        The column states that, as a Card’s beat writer, he’s appeared on many radio call-in shows, and questions are coming from hosts and callers around the country whether La Russa is getting old and losing it.

        He states this as the premise of his article, then basically concludes that it’s a reach, he doubts it… but it might be a fair question to consider.

        That’s why Craig suggested reading the article before spouting off. Les you might make baseless, irresponsible, borderline libelous accusations toward the writer, who did a good job of trying to get in front of an issue that’s already being talked about.

        You clown.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:38 PM


        It’s even worse if this guy is a Cards beat writer. That means he has to interact with LaRussa on a daily basis. If I were LaRussa, I wouldn’t give this guy time of day anymore if he asks me a question.

        He based his article on callers from talk radio? That’s even worse.

        This guy is no different than any other basher of LaRussa trying to fill space in a column.

      • paperlions - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        You what your comments remind me of? People that have spent the last decade ripping Money Ball without ever reading a single word of the book. There is a reason Craig suggested reading the article before commenting.

    • nixonotis - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Are you serious? Did you really manage to do exactly what Craig implored you not to do and expect not to get torn to shreds? You’re either flamebaiting or an idiot. After months and months of the same deal with you, I tend to think it’s the latter.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        You and your fellow cronies on this site are the idiots. You never once think outside the box and whatever you read you take as gospel. I question what I read. I’m sick of people writing articles for the sake of filling space with baseless accusations.

        As Craig suggested, this writer will catch flack for writing this article. I hope his penalty is being shunned by the Cards in future interviews, etc.

      • skipperxc - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM

        Questioning what you read usually requires that you read it.

      • nixonotis - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        I never told you what I thought of the article, Miklasz, or LaRussa. I’m saying that criticizing the writer, then proudly trumpeting the fact that you haven’t read what you chose to criticize is moronic. You act like willful ignorance is a worthy attribute while routinely lowering the level of discourse here at HBT. So, thanks for that, I guess.

      • phillyphreak - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        So biceps, the next time someone writes about Howard being good because of his RBI totals, I will be expecting you to question it……

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:04 PM

        All you guys are right as usual and I am a moron for not reading the article. It’s just that I don’t take too kindly when it’s even suggested that a man’s medication for an ailment is a possible cause for his mismanaging a game.

        Sorry I even commented on this piece.

      • jjschiller - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:11 PM

        You accuse everyone here of just believing what they read, and not thinking critically, yet it is you, who continually reacts viscerally to things, without thinking critically at all.

        You can’t even read the man’s words, you just react (based on your assumptions.) People point out this might not be the best way to go about things, and then you lash out and accuse them of doing what you yourself were in fact doing.

        But you never change. You just don’t take that second before you hit “Post” to say “Do I know what I’m talking about, here? Is what I’m about to say going to make me look like a jerk/hypocrite/imbocile?”

      • skipperxc - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:20 PM

        You know what’s funny? I don’t really disagree with your idea that it’s unfair to jump straight to his age, illness, and medication to explain a bad decision. Fun fact: Neither does the article.

        “And now, after turning in one of the best season-long managing jobs of his Hall of Fame career, we’re supposed to believe that TLR is one step from being escorted into an assisted-living facility? Please. It’s ridiculous.” — Bernie Miklasz

        Here’s the summation for you, since you’re too indignant to read it for yourself: yes, TLR’s getting older; yes, he’s on medication; yes, he’s almost certainly not as sharp as he was 20 or 30 years ago; but no, you can’t with any credulity say any of those were specifically responsible for Game 5’s debacle.

        Which sounds kind of like what you’re insisting is true. All you had to do was read it!

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM


        I just finished reading the article 5 mins. ago. What Craig wrote above was a good summary.

        Question: Why even bring up LaRussa’s age and medication/medical usage and then debunk it at the end as causes of managing mistakes? It’s absurd.

      • skipperxc - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        That’s a better question, and one there’s no good answer for. Because the struggle with age and the diminishing capabilities it brings with it is one we all must face? Because the twilight of a hero’s career is a compelling yet tragic story? Because watching a victory slip through their fingers will cause fans to search for causes anywhere and everywhere, latching onto whatever faults they can find, even unavoidable or accidental ones? (“They weren’t good enough” tends to not be a sufficient answer, for some reason.)

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        At least HB can get a 50/50 thumbs up to thumbs down ratio by calling himself a moron.

        Everyone should stop the flaming… Can’t we all just get along?

      • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 27, 2011 at 8:13 AM

        I’m starting to like Halladaysbiceps -he’s the gold standard for wrong headed posters – I almost laughed out loud when he admitted he didn’t read the article and then, after taking heat for his dopey posts he decided to read it.

    • alang3131982 - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      He isnt a “writer,” he’s a beat reporter. he is reporting on issues that may have affected La Russa during one of the most bizarre turns of a World Series. Does he ever say they are the reason? No. Clearly this information is out there, so why shouldnt the person involved in reporting on the Cardinals report on most plausible reasons for game 5’s mishap?

      This has no similarity to Francona, that was leaked information intended to be a character assassination. No one is saying La russa is abusing pills, he’s taking medication for an ailment which has side effects, but, yeah, let’s just ignore everything

    • phillyphreak - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      I actually think you need to read the column.

      It’s by no means a character assassination nor is it a column saying that TLR is finished as a manager.

      5 minutes and you could have saved yourself from the unnecessary stupidity.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Only Tony knows, really. And even he may not fully know.

    • aaronmoreno - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      “Late in the game, I scooped up an ordinary ground ball and threw it over to the pitcher, covering first base. It was the same kind of play I had made several hundred times in my big league career, just a routine play. But (teammates) Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon and the pitcher all got around me, slapped me on the back, and said, “Great going, Lou,” and “Nice stop, big boy.” They meant it to be kind, but it hurt worse than any bawling out I ever received in baseball. They were saying “great stop” because I had fielded a grounder. I decided then and there, I would ask (Manager Joe) McCarthy to take me out of the lineup.”

  4. Kyle - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Eh, as much as I enjoy a good TLR bash, I think S just happens. The guy has been on fire the last month or so, seemingly making every right move. I think the occasional ugly game is just the price of doing business his way, it just happened to bite him at a very inopportune time.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

      Finally…someone with enough personal integrity and/or honesty to actually admit enjoying a ride on the ole’ TLR “Hatetrain.” Thanks Kyle. As lifelong Cardinals fan (who happens to ‘sometimes’ be driven to the brink of insanity by TLR)….I sincerely appreciate your honesty. Now…all aboard!

  5. aceshigh11 - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    So is this another “baseball manager on a vicodin bender” story, a’la Francona?

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Exactly. I swear, they shouldn’t even call this the World Series. They should call is the “LaRussa Series”. I hear LaRussa talked about more than the actual players on the field.

    • nixonotis - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:42 PM

      You know, you could just read the thing.

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        I did read it!

        Truth be told, I just wanted to use the phrase “vicodin bender.”

        Call it wish fulfillment.

  6. acdc363 - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Maybe everyone is still mad about your midget story biceps its a touchy subject

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      LOL!!! Yeah, I guess that could be it.

      Funny thing is everyone is getting on me for stating that I didn’t read the article. At least I was honest. Well, I just read the article and what Craig put in his summary is pretty much what the guy wrote.

      I guess they don’t feel that Craig does a good job summarizing what he reads.

      • jjschiller - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        Craig summarizes fine. He also can’t just rewrite someone else’s work, as it would be unprofessional.

        So he gives us the jist, his reaction, and in this case, implores us to read and think for ourselves.

        What YOU reacted to was not in the article, AND was not in Craig’s summary. It was in your head, your preconceived notion that these god-damned-good-for-nothing-self-important-columnists are just making stuff up to sell papers.

        That was your presumption. That came from you.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        “…AND was not in Craig’s summary”


        Look at my initial comment @ 12:12 PM. The first (2) sentences are direct quotes from Craig’s summary.

        And you call me a moron.

      • jjschiller - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:38 PM

        You have problems with “context” don’t you?

        Here’s the money quote for you, the sentence you managed to miss, that was RIGHT BETWEEN the two “contrasting” (not contradictory) sentences you quoted:

        “Please read the column before you spout off. It’s measured and reasoned.”

      • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 27, 2011 at 8:16 AM

        halladay’s day job is a piNata.

  7. halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Craig Calcaterra,

    I have a question for you that I hope you can clear up. What is the purpose of Aaron, DJ, Matthew, and yourself writing summaries of what you read? According to some of these comments I’m reading, it seems you guys are just wasting your time. Seems like you ought to just provide a link to the story and write nothing. Why even bother?

    • jjschiller - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      Dude he made a specific request in this case, that you read this piece. He acknowledged that it was going to be controversial, and for that reason if we were to judge his ideas on the merits, we should all educate ourselves on the man’s ideas.

      You know that he did that. And you know you reacted like a nit-wit. You just can’t own up to anything without rationalizing or misguided appeals to authority.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:47 PM


        You have a personal vendetta against me on this site. It’s been that way since day 1. You never like what I write and always disagree with me. That’s fine. It’s your commenting right.

        Just don’t assume that I don’t rationalize anything. I read enough of these types of articles in my life to know that this writer is so typical of what I call “filler columns”. I read them here in Philly newspapers on a daily basis. I’m not just singling out this writer. There are many like him.

        By the way, because I was crucified, I read the damn article. Craig summarized it just fine and I stick by all my comments prior to reading it.

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      “I have a question for you that I hope you can clear up. What is the purpose of Aaron, DJ, Matthew, and yourself writing summaries of what you read? According to some of these comments I’m reading, it seems you guys are just wasting your time. Seems like you ought to just provide a link to the story and write nothing. Why even bother?”–Halladaybiceps

      I can answer this one. This is an aggregation site. They take stories from all over the internet, weed out the boring stuff, then summarize the interesting things for you to read. If you think the summary is interesting, you will click and read the entire article. If not, you skip it and move on to something that is interesting. See how that works? Since there are roughly 2,300,000 websites devoted to each base team, this site helps you weed through the crap. I know, it’s suuuper confusing. Think of it like the Drudge Report or Huffington Post of baseball, only instead insufferable douchebags, we get delightful people like Craig or Drew who point us to links and tell us their thoughts on them.

  8. bcirej - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    All these articles and comments the past two days about how the Cardinals and LaRussa LOST the game are just plain ridiculous. As TLR pointed out the game wasn’t won because of the fact they only scored TWO runs with all the opportunities to score more, not because of what happened in the last innings. If Washington’s decision to walk Pujols after Craig was thrown out the first time had backfired, all these articles would have been about how the Cardinals won instead of how Washington LOST the game for the Rangers. Holliday singled when he very easily could have homered, or Berkman could have. There are more managerial moves on both sides that can be questioned in the other games. LaRussa’s moves in game 2 were blamed for the loss instead of how the Rangers won. Guess the Rangers didn’t get the memo that the Cardinals were already crowned champions by all these biased reporters.

    When the Rangers finish this, will all the articles be about the Cardinals LOSING or how the Rangers WON?

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      Oh, the on going “you’re team didn’t lose, my team WON!” argument. In understand the frustration, but since this article is written by a Cardinals writer (who happens to be excellent BTW), the focus is going to be on the Cardinals.

      If you go to a Texas paper, the articles will be about Texas winning. IE, this headline that is on the front page of the Dallas News RIGHT NOW: “How Ron Washington is winning dugout duel with Cards’ La Russa”. Or “Rangers’ World Series title chase echoes Mavericks’ NBA Finals run”, which is up on their sports section.

    • alang3131982 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      If someone wins, someone loses. If we say the Cardinals lost, it implies that the Rangers won.

      No one is trying to take anything away from the Rangers – a team most picked to win the world series (i guess, conversely, lots of people picked the Cardinals to lose the world series).

      This is a St. Louis reporter, why wouldnt he be focused on the Cardinals?

      Further, Game 5 had some bizarre situations involving TLR and his bullpen, which contributed to their loss. The Rangers took advantage of them to win the game, We know what teh Rangers did to win, but we dont know exactly what the Cardinals did to put the Rangers in such an advantageous position.

      Just because someone says the Cardinals lost doesnt mean they are saying the Rangers didnt do things to win, it takes two to tango…I never get why people take this as a slight to their team’s performance.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        “We know what the Rangers did to win, but we dont know exactly what the Cardinals did to put the Rangers in such an advantageous position.”
        We know exactly what the Cardinals DIDN’T do to win (bring the Ducks in when they are on the pond). The Cardinals…(1 – 12) w/ RISP. The Rangers…(2-3) w/ RISP.
        One team was very clutch…and has been the whole series (Game #2 comes to mind).
        Hit, Stolen Base, Hit, Sac Fly, Sac Fly, Ballgame. The Rangers have had the lead for 11 INNINGS COMBINED this entire World Series. Yet…after 5 games they are up 3 – 2.
        Why? Because they are clutch. Good teams find a way to win.
        If having the lead for 11 total innings and still being up 3 – 2 doesn’t scream MONEY at everyone I don’t know that anything will.

    • gostlcards5 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      ….”Guess the Rangers didn’t get the memo that the Cardinals were already crowned champions by all these biased reporters.”


      I’m not sure who “all these biased reporters are”, but prior to the series, the only reporter/analyst that picked the Cardinals (in approximately 15-20 things I either read or heard on radio/TV) was John Kruk.

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        Of the 26 “experts” on who made predictions, 22 predicted the Rangers would win.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        I think what he is trying to say is based upon all the TLR “dart throwers” his perception is the Cardinals should be winning this thing easily. I can somewhat understand where he is coming from. Biceps touched on it as well in a previous post. All those aboard the TLR ”Hatetrain” salivate at the mouth at every opportunity to throw darts. As Biceps said…they should change this to the TLR World Series as there don’t appear to be a great number of articles about the players in general.

      • bcirej - Oct 27, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        Oh, my bad. Just being naive in figuring any reporter in a national forum like HBT should be objective. If I wanted to read Cardinal-biased articles, I’d look up St. Louis newspapers.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      BC: What you are referring to is what I like to call the TLR “Hatetrain.” All drama…all the time.
      Think Jerry Springer…only with a bit of baseball thrown in. It’s incredibly easy to climb aboard the TLR “Hatetrain” from the comforts of your Lazy Boy. So it’s…all aboard!
      Good luck to your Rangers tonight.
      I just hope the Cardinals have more of it. Go Cardinals!

  9. Jonny 5 - Oct 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Hair dye is obviously leaching into his cerebral cortex causing his neurons to misfire.

  10. 1historian - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    feces occur

  11. Walk - Oct 27, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    Hello ‘cepts, i am not craig so i can only speak for myself as a reader of hbt.. As far as just linking the articles and providing no commentary i would probably read anything craig thought was a good read. The reason for this is i am also a braves fan as well as a baseball fan. Time and again craig has linked articles i thought were a great read so has earned that trust with me. The rest of the writers i pay more attention to the summary to see if it is a story i would like to read or not. To sum it up i would likely read craig links if posted without a summary, but i am less inclined to do so with writers and bloggers i do not share an interest with so the summary is important to me.

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