Vengeance Is Mine, Says Tony La Russa
Over the course of his neverending career as a major league manager, La Russa gained a well-deserved reputation for grudge-holding and axe-grinding. And he didn’t care who or what got in his way, either. For instance, when general manager John Mozeliak wouldn’t make a move to help the bullpen last year, La Russa would refuse to make pitching changes and lose games just to make a point. When players he didn’t like were forced onto the roster, La Russa would go out of his way to systematically destroy that player’s confidence and will to live. And heaven help anyone who dared to question his strategies in a post game interview!
But La Russa saved his nastiest (and by “nastiest,” I mean his best) maneuver for last. Anyone who thought retirement might mellow this supremely vindictive and spiteful human being today discovered that he hasn’t changed in any way, shape, or form.
Many baseball people were shocked at the announcement of the National League All Star bench players selected by La Russa to round out the 2012 National League All Star team. Or, rather, by the ones NOT selected. It seems that La Russa chose to snub Cincinnati Reds starter Johnny Cueto and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Reds manager Dusty Baker and the Reds organization spent most of the day fuming over La Russa’s omission of these two league leaders from the game. Like anyone remotely familiar with La Russa, they know that TLR gave both players the finger because of their roles in the massive brawl that occurred in 2010 in Cincinnati. As you might recall, Phillips called the Cardinals “bitches” the night before goading Yadier Molina into a shoving match. Then, during the ensuing fight, Cueto repeatedly kicked Chris Carpenter in the back and Jason LaRue in the head with his spikes, ending LaRue’s career.
What a brilliant, nasty, and evil move by the former Cardinal manager! It’s the perfect cherry on top of La Russa’s career!
Like a lion that follows its prey for miles before leaping in for the kill, La Russa waited patiently to answer for the cowardly actions of these two pathetic morons. He refused to retaliate in obvious fashion over the following two seasons; onlookers kept wondering when (not if) La Russa would vindicate the harm inflicted in LaRue, Carpenter, Molina, and the Cardinal organization. La Russa kept biding his time, allowing the suspicion and wariness to subside just enough for his victims to feel comfortable again.
And that’s when he stuck the knife in.
When asked about his refusal to name Cueto and Phillips to the All Star team, La Russa resorted to his oldest and greatest tactic: he lied. La Russa told reporters that he thought Cueto was pitching Sunday, and would therefore be unavailable to pitch in the All Star Game. That answer is as believable as La Russa’s insistence last year that he didn’t bring Jason Motte out to throw a one-pitch fastball into Ryan Braun‘s back. Uh, huh. Sure, Tony … whatever you say.
La Russa is the praying mantis of major league managers, a compassion-free insect of pure resentment and fury. Cueto and Phillips should’ve known they would never see the 2012 All Star Game the day it was announced that La Russa would manage it. The only way La Russa would allow those two on the field that evening would be if Kansas City legalized murder and Bud Selig allowed La Russa to conduct a pregame beheading ceremony. He would execute them with the precision of a puppy-stroking Michael Corleone.
And all I can say about La Russa’s final stab in the back is GOOD FOR TONY! While I’ve never been much of a fan of La Russa’s in-house antics, he has always represented his team in a defiant and protective way on the field that impressed me. This, though, is his finest hour. In one last strategic swipe from the grave, La Russa has vindicated his former players who were wronged by Cincinnati’s actions and the commissioner’s inaction.
So THANK YOU, Tony La Russa! I think I’m finally becoming a fan.