Tony La Russa dropped the curtain on his 33 year managerial career earlier today, and tributes were plentiful, none more effusive than one from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan — who very recently blasted St. Louis for their kid-gloves treatment of the accountability-phobic Albert Pujols.
La Russa would complain about strike zones and expect them to change. He would whine about other teams’ grievances and expect vengeance. He would reinvent the way relief pitchers are used and expect the world to follow. And it did. Because when Tony La Russa did something, almost all the time he did it right, and when something is done right in baseball it is prone to copy-catting.
For all the excessive machinations, the idiosyncrasies and the arrogance, Tony La Russa will be missed by baseball. He was one of its defining personalities and its great winners, a testament to intelligence and knowledge in a game that hasn’t valued either nearly as much as it ought until recent decades.
If a third World Series championship and a goodbye kiss from Passan wasn’t enough for La Genius to hang his hat on, Anheuser-Busch paid special tribute to the animal-loving skipper by naming one of the famed Clydesdales,
“Drinky” “Tony La Russa”. Such a gesture is not unique for the brewery (former owners of the Cardinals) ; Bud marked the Cards’ 2006 title by naming a horse after Will Leitch’s former fiance dying a horse’s genitals a shade of nuclear raspberry, in honor of Scott Spiezio.