I hadn't heard even the slightest of rumblings about the possibility of LaRussa hanging up his spikes. Admittedly, I don't have my finger on the pulse of the Cardinals organization but I do have many friends who are extremely loyal and passionate Cardinals fans. I'm certain they are in a state of shock and disbelief right now. Management knew Tony's thoughts in August but his coaching staff and players found out Sunday, after the World Series victory parade. What a buzz kill.
LaRussa is going out the way everyone wants to. On top. Off the top of my head I can only think of one other person who's done the same. Jerome Bettis. Perhaps y'all can remind me of others.
I don't want this to read like a news report because that's not what I do, but some of LaRussa's accomplishments are worthy of repeating.
- A 33 year career, the last 16 spent as manager of the Cardinals made Tony LaRussa the longest tenured manager this season.
- LaRussa is the 3rd winningest manager in the history of baseball behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. Bobby Cox is fourth on the list.
- Only Connie Mack has managed more games than LaRussa. Mack retired at the age of 87. LaRussa is 67.
- LaRussa led teams have won 6 Pennants and 3 World Series.
- LaRussa has been named Manager Of The Year 4 times, twice in each league.
- LaRussa is one of two managers who have won a World Series title in both leagues. One with the Oakland A's and two with the St. Louis Cardinals. The other is Sparky Anderson. (Cincinatti Reds, Detroit Tigers)
LaRussa needs only 36 wins to pass McGraw on the all-time wins list. At his press conference he was asked if he considered staying one more season so that he could surpass McGraw. I love his answer.
"I'm aware of the history of the game," LaRussa said. "But I would not be happy with myself if the reason I came back was to move up one spot. That's not why you manage ... it's not something that motivates me. Wherever you finish, you finish."
I'll be honest with you. I am not the hugest Tony LaRussa fan. I do have a great appreciation and respect for what he has accomplished over his career. He has a brilliant baseball mind and his numbers speak for themselves. What I haven't always liked what he's said in the the press about other managers and teams. Very often he comes across as whiney and petty. He's very taciturn and often seems arrogant. That's something I don't care for. Then again, his players and coaches love him and it seems they'll do just about anything for him. This season, we even saw them rise from the dead for him. LaRussa also does a great deal for charity, especially animal charities, which I totally love.
Here are the real questions. There are now two, more than likely three, prime managerial positions open. St. Louis, Boston and probably Chicago. Who will go where? Yesterday morning, re-signing Albert Pujols was the first order of business for the Cardinals. Now they need a manager too. My thinking was that with the World Series crown there was absolutely no way that the Cards could let Albert go anywhere else. With LaRussa gone, it's even more vital to keep Albert in St. Louis. Will Bill DeWitt and John Mozeliak go after Terry Francona? Or does Theo Epstein want him in Chicago? I don't even know the state of that relationship right now. We know one thing, Theo is aggressive. Does Theo want both Terry and Albert? The Cubs are always willing to spend. If Albert goes to Chicago, does Prince end up in St. Louis? Or is it Terry and Prince in Chicago?
Help me out. Where do you think all the pieces will fall? What do you think about Tony LaRussa's retirement? Did you see it coming? And who else retired at the top of their game?
Oh yes, and Happy Halloween!