On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals finished one of the most improbable World Series champion runs in Major League Baseball history as they defeated the Texas Rangers 6-2 in Game 7 in front of a record crowd at Busch Stadium. And less than 24 hours after the team’s victory parade, manager Tony LaRussa has announced that he will retire.
“Tony leaves behind a legacy of success that will always be rememered as one of the most successful eras in Cardinals history,” chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said at the announcement. “I knew this day would come. I just hoped that it wouldn’t.”
(Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
A friend emailed me this morning to ask if I knew what the Cardinals’ press conference was going to be about, and I, like most, assumed it was to announce that the team had picked up Yadier Molina’s option, even though that would be silly to announce when it’s plain as day. This makes a lot more sense, despite the fact that I’m in total “Aw, schucks” mode right now.
LaRussa was the definition of polarizing – Cardinals fans loved him and opposing fans hated him. But Cardinals fans also loved to hate him, and I think he loved making everyone want to rip their hair out in frustration. He retires with the third most wins as a manager in MLB history, and if he had stayed another season he would have undoubtedly passed John McGraw for second. Instead, he’ll settle for his three World Series rings and knowing that he gets the last laugh.
That is, if he actually retires. LaRussa had recently been linked to a few managerial openings, including the Chicago White Sox (now filled by Robin Ventura) and the Boston Red Sox. That’s not to say that he won’t sit 2012 out. That’s almost a certainty, as his longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan was planning to skip this season to be with his ailing wife. The question is – would LaRussa return in 2013? LaRussa already admitted that it’s not out of the question.
I’ll go ahead and toss out my own St. Louis nightmare scenario – LaRussa reunites with Walt Jocketty in Cincinnati in 2013 after Dusty Baker is fired, adding the ultimate insult to injury of one of the nastiest managerial feuds in baseball history. Alas, this is not a time to make predictions as much as it’s a time for those who loved LaRussa to appreciate his career and those who hate him to make the same old jokes about DUIs, shingles and changing pitchers.
Either way, LaRussa’s biggest accomplishment is that he somehow managed to please everyone this weekend.