On LaRussa’s Excruciating 5,000 Game Career
I’m not much of a fan of Tony LaRussa, but even I can queef out a complimentary kiss when forced by circumstance. Tonight is one such occasion, as TLR will be managing his 5,000 career game. He is only the second manager to achieve the feat, and the only non-owner to do so. This is certainly an amazing achievement considering both the volatility of the game and TLR’s general incompetence.
How would you describe the qualities that make up the man? Here are some of the words that instantly leap to my mind:
Loyal- Loyalty is a terrific quality in anyone under any circumstance, and TLR has it in spades. If you’ve managed to embed yourself in LaRussa’s affections, he will fight to defend you with his last, raspy breath. Of course, getting TLR to like you is similar to trying to make out with an alligator. Only select people with certain skills or personalities get the royal treatment; everyone else can go to hell.
Crabass- Has this man ever smiled? Has he ever told a joke, laughed with his friends, or even sighed in relaxation? He stalks the clubhouse like the spectre of death itself, his face the same stony frown if a rookie makes a mistake or if Pujols hits a five run homer. Lighten up, TLR!
Inconsistent- His rules shift from player to player or situation to situation. Certain players can play hurt and not cause problems, while others (I’m thinking of Scott Rolen here) get singled out and punished. Some players are allowed to work through struggles (like Molina early this year) while others are buried with criticism (Brendan Ryan). Some of those inconsistencies manifest themselves from another quality of LaRussa
Favoritism- Just as TLR is unwaveringly loyal to those he likes, he is maddeningly harsh with those he despises. The Colby Rasmus situation is a prime example; TLR didn’t like Rasmus from day one because of organizational squabbles, refused to play the kid on a consistent basis, and then complained publicly about Rasmus’ inconsistencies! Mediocre players like Aaron Miles, Chris Duncan, or Miguel Batista get unworthy amounts of playing time simply because TLR likes them.
Insane – Batting the pitcher eighth never worked, but he kept doing it anyway!
Winner- While the argument that TLR is the “third winningest manager in baseball history” never held much weight with me – he’s also the second-losingest manager – it’s still a remarkable career filled with lots of wins and championship highlights. Of course, almost anyone could win with the teams LaRussa was given to manage, but I digress … TLR has really accomplished something here, and it wouldn’t be right to refuse him what he’s due.
So congratulations on 5,000 games, TLR! But still, don’t forget to retire at the end of the year! Thanks!