Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moneyball 2011 - Tony LaRussa

Tony LaRussa is only a bit player in Moneyball - he was Billy Beane's final manager.  LaRussa was also the final manager for the Athletics under the Walter Haas (Levi's) Ownership.  Haas operated the A's as a bit of a hobby and/or trust for the city of Oakland.  Haas was the type of owner that a fan would love - Winning was important, if the team lost money it didn't really matter.  The Moneyball era ownership of Steve Schott (distant relative of Marge) was of course distinctly different.
Schott would operate the A's on a much smaller payroll.  LaRussa was no longer affordable to the new regime and left Oakland for St Louis, where he remains today and happens to managing the team in a pretty big series which you may have hard opens this evening.

1989 Topps #224 Tony LaRussa

Tony LaRussa is probably as well a documented manager as any in history other than maybe (maybe) Joe Torre.  I have myself read more about LaRussa then any manager that is not affiliated with the Phillies.
His body of work is impressive.  The 30 years of managing and the 2728 wins(3rd all-time) are both monumental numbers.  Another impressive accomplishment are the two World Series Titles and the now 6 League Pennants.
But there will always be things that bother me about LaRussa.  One is he always appears so smug/arrogant, as if he is smarter than everybody in the room. Another problem I have is the constant fawning of the media - This isn't LaRussa's fault, but it bothers me regardless.
I particularly wonder why LaRussa is rarely questioned on his involvement with the Steroid era.
Tony LaRussa was in the heart of BALCO country at the outset of the Steroid era.  Two of the big names on the three pennants winners in Oakland were Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.  McGwire is one of the men that LaRussa has brought back to the game to be his hitting coach.  A number of other players by LaRussa led teams have been connect to PEDs at one time or another, yet this is something we rarely hear about.  During the Phillies Cardinals NLDS McGwire was practially invisible - tough call - TBS didn't give Greg Gross much air time either and the Phils weren't hitting at all.  But Mark McGwire and Greg Gross are both very different in magnitude.  Perhaps TBS senses that we have suffered from steroid fatigue and they have moved on, but I think the PED portion of Tony LaRussa's resume cannot be ignored
A closing note - in that final game (link at top of the post) Billy Beane came in as a defensive replacement for....

Mark McGwire

Moneyball 2011
Links to  previous MB 2011 posts

Here is a link to a Moneyball and Collecting related article in Beckett that I first saw referenced by Chris Olds via Twitter. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LaRussa is my least favorite sports figure. I despise him.

Alot of that is for the reasons you mentione - and I'll go a bit further with the PED thing. He defended McGwire when Canseco wrote his book, basically saying "McGwire worked hard and we all knew Canseco was on it". First, the McGwire part got debunked when McGwire admitted to steroids last year.

More importantly - and what seems to have been passed over in this - is the Canseco part of those comments. I know baseball didn't test for PEDs, but they were still against the rules in baseball after 1991 (Fay Vincent instituted the policy). LaRussa is basically admitting to knowing that his player (Canseco) was cheating. AND HE DIDN'T REPORT IT! I don't know how he escaped suspension from this.

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions