The end of an Era
Today the Cardinals held a press conference in which they shocked not only Cardinal Nation but the world. They did this by announcing the retirement of longtime Manager Tony La Russa. The move comes just three days after Tony and the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series. As much as Ray and I have jabbed at Tony this season, he really was a huge part of Cardinal baseball and had a lot of great memories and moments more so than the bad ones. With this shocking announcement I wanted to take a look back at the Cardinal career of Tony La Russa and some of the biggest highlights of his Cardinal career:
The first season of TLR’s reign as Cardinal’s manager and led the team to their first and only postseason appearance of the dreadful ninety’s. Tony brought a bit of excitement after Joe Torre had failed to bring a winning season to the Cardinals in his brief tenure as Cardinal manager. Even though the Cardinals didn’t reach the World Series, they did make it to the NLCS where they lost to the Atlanta Braves.
The 1998 season was remembered mainly for the homerun chase with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, in which the Cardinals manager’s favorite pupil would go on to win the chase and broke Roger Maris’s single season homerun record by hitting 70 homeruns, this record would eventually be beaten by Barry Bonds.
The Cardinals best season record wise, under the La Russa era the Cardinals won 105 games that year while losing just 57. The Cardinals went on to reach their first NL Pennant under the La Russa era, where the Cardinals would eventually get swept by the Red hot Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals were led by the MV3(Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds) as well as many other great players including Chris Carpenter, Matt Morris, Mike Matheney, Reggie Sanders, and Larry Walker.
The Cardinals pulled of a miracle winning not only the NLCS but the World Series beating a tough Mets team to reach the World Series and eventually going on to winning the World Series Championship defeating the Detroit Tigers in 5 games. This marked only the second time a Manager won a World Championship in both leagues, Tony did it by winning his first World Championship in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics.
In La Russa’s last season as Cardinals Manager he brought the team back to life when the Cardinals were 10.5 games back of the Wild Card in late August. The Cardinals became the hottest team in baseball and managed to win the Wild Card spot on the last day of the season, and making the playoffs. The Cardinals were then expected to lose against the Phillies, but dramatically they won in a shutout by Chris Carpenter in Game 5. In the NLCS they went on to defeat division rival Milwaukee and reach the World Series for the 18th tim in franchise history. After falling 3-2 in the series, the Rangers were a strike away from winning the World Series, until David Freese tied the game with a double, the Cardinals battled back again and eventually won Game 6 with a walkoff homerun from David Freese, the Cardinals then went on to win Game 7 of the World Series 6-2, and brought the Cardinals their eleventh World Series Championship.
Career Highlights and Records:
3 time World Series Champion (’89,’06,’11)
6 Pennants: 3 AL (’88, ’89,’90) 3 NL ( ’04, ’06, ’11)
4 time Manager of the Year award: (’83, ’88, ’92, ’02)
Cardinals franchise leader in wins: 1,408
Third most winning-est manager in MLB history: 2,728