Pssst Tony â€“ We Knew All Along
The last thing that needs to be written is another post burying Mark McGwire, who has finally placed the steroids noose around his neck and stepped off of the ledge that his hollow records have built, merely confirming what any reasonable person has known for years. I am rather surprised, though, that Tony LaRussa has not taken more of a hit from the media.
Granted, I realize that all of the furor is over McGwire and his ridiculous claims of steroids not providing him with additional strength and that he would have hit homers regardless. But what is it with LaRussa saying last week that he did not realize “McLiar” took steroids until he received a call from him confessing that he took them? He wants the public to believe that someone who enjoys pawning himself off as a surly no nonsense genius who actually has a law degree did not know what was going on within his own clubhouse, or notice the obvious changes in his players size or performance? Does LaRussa know that we baseball fans are only half as dumb as we look?
I hope next time I get pulled over for speeding that Tony LaRussa is the police officer, â€œHi Officer LaRussa, I did not realize I was going 50 in the school zone.â€ Whew, got out of that ticket.
The smug, pompous, â€œhow dare you ask me that question, I am Tony LaRussa and you are notâ€ attitude that he has shown has run its course with me. Let me pose this question: Has any manager benefited more from the steroid era than LaRussa? In the five-year span from 1988 to 1992 LaRussaâ€™s Athletics won four division titles and appeared in the World Series three times. Those teams were led by Jose Canseco and McGwire, known then as the â€œBash Brothers,â€ who ended up being among the biggest cheaters in the game.
Would it also really surprise anyone now if it came out that more players from those Aâ€™s teams also joined in Cansecoâ€™s PED circus? The possibility of players taking steroids and how they would change the games, careers and the record books was not even conceivable back then to the average fan if you think about those times. It was this team, though, that propelled LaRussa into the progressive thinking managerial stratosphere he now occupies.
I am dreaming of LaRussa and O.J. Simpson becoming friends and LaRussa announcing that as soon as O.J. gets out of jail they both will join forces to catch the killer of Nicole and Ron Goldman. This could happen. Despite all of the evidence, O.J. claims he is innocent and Tony has shown he will believe almost anything.
Despite having the Chemical Brothers dominating, the Genius himself was only able to win one World Series title in 1989. In 1988 and 1990 the Athletics won the most games in baseball at 104 and 103, respectively, and were heavily favored in the Fall Classic, as they had won ten more regular season games than their National League adversaries. The result? Two World Series defeats, and they went out in both Series with a whimper, winning a total of one game. You are not that great if you have the upper hand on an uneven playing field, the best record in baseball and can only muster a single World Series win in nine tries.
Did he win in 1989? Sure, but even then there was a ten-day layoff between games two and three due to the infamous earthquake, and you cannot tell me either side was completely focused following this tragedy. Is this reasoning a bit of a reach? Yes, but in the World Series his Athletics showed more of a tendency to choke than to persevere, so I am hesitant to give them full credit for winning in ’89.
Now that LaRussa has taken on the role of Mother Theresa, the only thing missing from his staff is Roger Clemens as his pitching coach. Unlike “McLiar,” Clemens has always been willing to talk about his past â€¦he just â€œmis-remembersâ€ much of it. Mother LaRussa should be fine with that.
In 1996, LaRussa moved his inflated coaching career to St. Louis and a year later he brought overâ€¦surprise Mark McGwire!! McGwire would be an All-Star for the Cardinals in 1997, â€™98, â€™99 and 2000 but could not help lead them to the World Series without the other Chemical Brother. It is almost poetic justice that LaRussaâ€™s Cardinals team was swept in the World Series in 2004 by the Red Sox.
The Sox themselves were led by a pair of hard-hitting sluggers who would be linked down the road to PEDs, in Manny Ramirez, who tested positive, and allegedly David Ortiz. Who would have ever guessed that the â€œCurse of the Bambinoâ€ would have been broken in part by a player who took womenâ€™s fertility drugs? Good luck explaining that one to your kids ten years down the road.
If LaRussa catches you smoking pot you HAVE to throw out there that it is for medicinal purposes only right? He will probably sit down and eat a bag of Doritos with you if you get the munchies.
I will give Tony full credit, though, for winning the 2006 World Series over the Detroit Tigers as a manager. Granted the Tigers pitchers threw the cowhide around after fielding it as if it were a grenade for most of the Series, but the Cards did win fair and square. As far as I am concerned this is his one true championship won as a manager and he should be proud of it as any manager should of this accomplishment.
There is one huge caveat that needs to be mentioned, however. This championship and all his other managerial accomplishments achieved with the Cardinals are as worthless as his Athletics ones should it come out at any point that Albert Pujols is not on the level. Pujols is the best player in the game, maybe Top 10 all-time when all is said and done, but greatness in baseball today is met with skepticism and not reverence, and the executives, managers and players only have themselves to blame.
Do you think to feel better former President George W. Bush calls up Tony and says, â€œI swear there are Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraqâ€? Of course Tony believes him.
So as you approach Mr. LaRussa with soft steps and your head down so as not to look him directly in the eyes because he is baseball royalty, remember that he is not the manager others make him out to be. Much of his resume was built on the exploits of unethical players and his decision to turn a blind eye. It is much easier to win and have accolades thrown your direction than to stand up for what is right when your two best players are doing questionable things and run the risk of mediocrity.
In the end it is LaRussa who appears to be the naÃ¯ve fool in thinking that the fans will accept any excuse thrown to them; we may be dumb but we’re not stupid.