Tony La Russa Comes to Kirksville

Tony La Russa came to Truman State University on Friday, March 16, 2012 and he discussed various topics relating to his baseball career for an hour and a half. The manager was candid, humorous, and at the end of his speech he took questions for about 45 minutes. During the show La Russa showed off his jewelry. He showed the audience his World Series rings from 1989 and 2006 and discussed what the new ring for last years title would look like. Here is some of what he discussed. (Some quotes have been paraphrased in the interest of brevity.)

On the media:
“Never lie, never tell em what they want to here either.”

On how his staff motivates and success:
“We ask each player to buy in to what we emphasize, and we emphasize personalization.”
“One thing our staff did was to create a special environment, put the players in a position to win”
“Being successful is competing.”
“We (the Cardinals) came back because we had established a personalized approach. The way to separate yourself is to find edges. You don’t have down days and you tough out adversity. No matter what the guts were always there, the players bought in to the personalized approach. We establish respect, trust, and caring. Each guy had to earn the respect of each guy. How do you do that? You have talent and bring it everyday.”

La Russa discussed the personalized approach for a while and how it related to Colby Rasmus.

On Colby Rasmus
“Colby is a really talented guy but he’s baby young. Everyone on our staff, and I mean everyone, from the coaches to the players tried (to get him involved with the team).He’s really talented and one day it will click. Our staff pressure’s you and we teach you to pressure your teammates.”

La Russa discussed Colby again later in the Q/A and here is most of what he said:
“Back when we were 6 games over and tied for first, the GM and owner ask our staff, what we need. To fill our needs Colby was going to be the guy. For the most part we trust the guys on our teams and we had to convince the owner trade was right. Ownership’s concern was that we (Cardinal’s staff) hadn’t done enough to get Colby up to speed. Everyone tried.”
“His (Rasmus) biggest problem was doing things like not being ready to play. We felt we did our best but we could win it if we made the trade. He (Rasmus) has the talent, he’s cool under pressure, a has courage at the plate. His mind isn’t relentless and that is his issue. If it ever clicks he could have a great career.”

Interesting thoughts from La Russa. He hinted a couple times at some issues with Rasmus’ family, but went into no details. He also mentioned the words kid and baby multiple times when referring to Rasmus or his attitude. La Russa said there was only a “4-5 players I didn’t enjoy managing” and this makes you wonder if Colby was one of them. Based on what La Russa was saying he isn’t sure if it will ever click for Rasmus and was one of the biggest supporters of the midseason trade.

On Ricky Henderson
“Ricky is the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time. The media liked to beat him up. When we (Oakland) traded for him the press put up a headline before he had even played saying ‘A’s Chemistry Takes a Beating.’ I didn’t like that.”

On Dennis Eckersley:
“Eck is a really cool guy. He’s got his own language, though, and that made him tough for me to understand. Here’s an example. Once when he was pitching poorly in a midseason game I went out to talk to him. I gave him the same old same old, you know, how’s the arm feeling? What’s going on with your location, yada, yada…and he says ‘Man I’m just salad.’ Well I had never heard that in my entire life so I just left him out there and returned to the dugout. After a couple more hits I go out there for the second time to pull him from the game and when I get there he says ‘Why’d you leave me in, I told you I was salad.’ At this point I told him I have no idea what he was talking about and he says ‘I’m salad, I’m just tossing it up there.’”

On the bullpen phone issue in the 2011 World Series:
“It was the most embarrassing walk of my career. Half the crowd was laughing and the other half just booing. We lost a pivotal game because of me.”

On Dirk Nowitzki about pressure before Game 3 of the World Series:
“This was one of the funniest and best things I ever heard anyone say, I’ll remember it until the day I die. People were giving him a hard time about throwing out the first pitch and telling him not to blow it and he said ‘I make love to pressure my man, that’s who I am.”

On Moneyball:
“Moneyball…I hate it. It’s cost big league scouts their jobs. Numbers are only a small part of what you do. It’s a bad concept. Moneyball, they produce information, they tell you they can find a better way to do something. It’s bullshit. The only numbers I ever look at are the matchups. If this guy is 3-20 against a pitcher and that guy is 10-20 I’m gonna play the guy who is 10 for 20. I don’t look at anything else. We’re getting back to balance, between scouts and numbers guys, because enough teams have gotten burnt. Look at the A’s when is the last time they won anything. I don’t like it and I don’t trust it.”

On Albert Pujols:
“Albert is one of my favorite players. Phenomenal talent. I don’t think the Cardinals should have signed him. I think they’re smart. It doesn’t make sense for the Cardinals. You should all still be Albert Pujols fans however. He went back to the team during the offseason and said he would sign the deal they gave him before Spring Training. The team countered with a 5 year deal. When LA gave him $60 million more than any other offer on the table it was tough for him. You should all still be Albert fans because he is a great talent and a great guy. The only time you should root against Al is if you are playing the LA Angels in the World Series.”

On Gamesmanship:
“I have never used gamesmanship ever. I did it (referring to the flickering lights in Milwaukee last year) because I trust our players. The Milwaukee lights were flickering and my players were telling me they were. If someone is handing out bs I will respond with some type of bullshit of my own.” “I care about what our team feels like, I have their backs and I trust ‘em.”

On Kenny Roger’s pine tar hand in the 2006 World Series:
“He had pine tar all over his hand, no doubt about it. I could have gone out there, had the umps undress him, and they would’ve found it and ejected him. I didn’t do it because at that time of year (October) every pitcher had a little something to help grip. The hitters like it that way too, because the ball isn’t going everywhere. I learned a lot from Sparky Anderson (Hall of Fame manager and La Russa’s mentor) who said ‘win the right way, and lose the right way. Don’t give no bullshit or take any either.’ I decided not to have Rogers kicked out because of this (advice). I did ask the umpires for the substance to be removed. I didn’t think that was a way to compete and I decided on the philosophy that I was taught.”

On the rivalry with the Cubs:
“I would hate Cincinnati more than Chicago. However the best competition in our division was Houston with Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman. Those were some good teams.

On Adam Wainwright:
“We were surprised the Braves were talking about him. Our scouts had seen him and really thought he had the total package. The reason he was available was that he wasn’t aggressive enough, you know? Pitching away from contact. He’s a beauty. Now you gotta keep going after hitters. He wasn’t ready because he didn’t challenge them. He is a complete package. He had potential and realized it.”

On his best team:
“The Oakland team (1989) that won was so good, you just had to push a button. They were that good and that kind of team.”

On the 2011 Cardinals:
“I woulda managed that club for free.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers

%d bloggers like this: