La Russa Leaves a Champion

Tony La Russa announced his retirement just three days after winning his most dramatic World Series of his lustrous 33-year career. La Russa walks away from the game at age 67. He’s a shoe-in Hall of Famer. La Russa’s 2,728 wins rank third all-time, trailing only John McGraw and Connie Mack.

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25:  Manager Tony La Ru...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

La Russa had a reputation for micromanaging his bullpen. The “left-handed specialist” was his niche. He never hesitated to burn multiple relievers in one inning. If he felt it increased the chances of his team to win, he made the move.

The 2011 postseason may stand as his best work. La Russa joined Gil Hodges of the 1969 Mets as the only managers to take a team at least 10 games out in August and wind up winning the World Series. He made a record 75 pitching changes during the 2011 postseason.

La Russa won 6 Pennants and 3 World Championships during his career.

He led the Athletics to three straight World Series appearances from 1988-1990. His first championship, in 1989, will be remembered as the “Battle of the Bay”. The Oakland Athletics swept the San Francisco Giants.

In 16 seasons in St. Louis, La Russa led his team into nine postseasons, 3 pennants, and 2 World Championships. His legacy will never be forgotten.

La Russa is the most competitive person I have ever been around. He is oddly superstitious, and often very witty behind the scenes. His players enjoy his camaraderie that is not portrayed on postgame media sessions. The fans and media heavily scrutinized La Russa when the team struggled. We harped on his constant lineup changes, over-managing the bullpen, and being stubborn. However, La Russa won, and won a lot. Hindsight is always 20/20. Former Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter called La Russa the most “prepared person ever”.

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Manager Tony La Ru...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife.

It will be odd without Don Tony lurking in the dugout. His presence was as large as any superstar on the team. Through the years, he managed several great players: Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Ricky Henderson, Albert Belle, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Yadier Molina to name a few. He preached “the Cardinal way”, which we have grown accustomed to in St. Louis.

We often don’t appreciate things we have in life until they are gone. With La Russa, his success is unmatched in the history of the organization. His success wrote its own story. For the sake of the team and its great fan base, I hope we won’t miss Tony La Russa’s success. Hopefully, his successor can continue the “Cardinal way” and its winning tradition.

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