FIRE JOE MORGAN: The Cult of Tony LaRussa


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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The Cult of Tony LaRussa

is almost as vexing to me as the cult of Joe Morgan. Here's Mark Kreidler's take:

Tony La Russa, a man with the gravitas to actually make the comparison, said this about Albert Pujols' home run: "It would be tied for first with the most dramatic home runs that have ever been hit."

Obviously unquantifiable, but...really? It was incredibly dramatic, but it won Game Five of an NLCS. Kirk Gibson? Bobby Thompson? Maz in the 1960 WS? Joe Carter? How about Hendu in 1986 -- that was a Game 5. Carlton Fisk? Jesus -- Bucky Dent?

Kreidler goes on to praise LaRussa for being stoic. Then he says this:

But in a roundabout way, maybe Pujols hits that home run because La Russa is who he is as a manager. Maybe the Cards don't panic, down 4-2 with two out in the ninth inning on the road against arguably the best closer in the game, precisely because Tony La Russa's emotional range as manager doesn't allow for free-form nervous expression.

I'm going to go ahead and say that in no way, shape, or form, does Tony La Russa's demeanor have anything to do with Pujols's HR. I think Pujols's HR is due to Pujols being the best hitter in baseball, and also due to Brad Lidge hanging a slider right over the middle of the plate.

If you want to see something almost as impressive as Pujols' home run, go back to the video and observe Pujols' expression during that at-bat. He stands in against Brad Lidge, and Pujols is just the embodiment of professional calm and concentration. His body barely moves at all. The swing on the home run is pure, of course, but it is also almost routine in its execution. Maybe Albert Pujols, as great as he is, also has a little La Russa in him. David Eckstein, too, for that matter.

There is no Tony La Russa in Albert Pujols. And to say that there is any "David Eckstein" in Albert Pujols (can we get through one article about the Cardinals without mentioning David Eckstein?), is to ignore the fact that Albert Pujols himself embodies all of the things that people praise David Eckstein for: hustle, determination, smarts, etc. Why does that mean there is "David Eckstein" in Albert Pujols? Did David Eckstein invent these things?

Plus, he fanatically studies video, researches the pitchers he is facing, and prepares for games better than anyone in the league. Which is why he hit that home run.

Also, Tony La Russa was being stoic, which totally helped him, I guess.

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posted by Unknown  # 4:48 PM
Welcome back.

Is it possible that Kreidler meant there's also a little La Russa in "David Eckstein, too, for that matter"?

It's just as nonsensical. In fact, maybe even more so, given that Eckstein is supposed to be a lively sparkplug or whatever and La Russa looks like a corpse.
Good call. Misread it. But it's still nonsense.
The whole thing reminds me of that old joke:

Do you have a little LaRussa in you?

Would you like to?
There is one reason, and one reason only, that Pujols hit that home run: he is a true Yankee.
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