Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: October 28, 2011 3:18 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 4:25 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 6


By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Busch Stadium after an epic Game 6 of the World Series.

• Wrap your head around this one. Other than his historic Game 3 performance, Albert Pujols was 0-for-16 in the series until his ninth-inning double. But he did double. Still, in light of that, would Rangers manager Ron Washington have been better served to try and pitch to Pujols in the 10th inning with Berkman set to face a right-hander (the switch-hitting Berkman is a much more dangerous hitter from the left side)? I personally would have put Pujols on, but it didn't work, so Washington is sure to be second-guessed.

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• Washington on being one strike away from the championship twice: "Well, you know, I understand that it's not over until you get the last out, and I was just sitting there praying that we'd get that last out, and we didn't get it. And you have to tip your hat to the Cardinals, the way they fought tonight and took the game from us."

Lance Berkman, on dreaming of coming through in a big spot in the World Series when you're a kid: "When you're a little kid and you're out there, you don't have a bunch of reporters and fans that are ready to call you a choking dog if you don't come through. (Laughter) So when you're a kid, you don't realize what a big moment that is. I'm just going to caution all little kids out there, be careful what you wish for."

• Did anyone notice none of the Rangers' three bunt attempts would have worked if Fernando Salas didn't make a throwing error?

• "If it's going to be replayed over and over again, I don't know, but it's really cool to be a part of this and to force a Game 7." -- David Freese, when told that his home run would be replayed forever.

• This is the first time since 2002 a World Series has gone all seven games. In the previous 36 instances a World Series went the distance, the home team won 19 times.

• Berkman on being one strike away from making the last out in a possible loss: "I actually felt pretty good about it because I figured I was in a no-lose situation. If you don't come through right there, it's only one at-bat and it's over with, and they might talk about it for a couple days, but it's not that big a deal. If you come through, it's the greatest, and plus you've built a little bank account of being able to come through, so that if I don't come through tomorrow I can be like, 'Well, I came through in Game 6, what do you want from me?'"

• The last time we saw a Game 6 or later walk-off home run in the World Series before Thursday night? Joe Carter in Toronto in 1993.

• The 2011 Cardinals and Rangers are now the top two teams ever in terms of postseason pitching changes. The Cardinals have the record with 71, while the Rangers are second with 65. The previous record was 62 by the 2002 Giants.

• "We'll bounce back tomorrow," Washington said. "We've been in some tough situations before. We've always responded, and I expect us to respond tomorrow." Also note the Rangers haven't lost two games in a row since August.

• The two teams combined for five errors and 23 men left on base. So, yeah, there were plenty of missed opportunities by each.

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Matt Holliday's status: "Well, we thought at first he had fractured it, but I was told by the trainer later on that it's not a fracture, but I think it's swelling, and he's got a pretty good bruise there. So it may be we need to replace him for tomorrow."

• The attendance (47,325) was a Busch Stadium record. The previous record was Game 3 of the 2009 NLDS against the Dodgers.

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Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:07 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 4:26 am
 

Carpenter not named starter, but he's most likely



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- After the Cardinals' thrilling Game 6 victory over the Rangers, they'll have little time to celebrate. Game 7 starts roughly 19 1/2 hours after Game 6 ended. So the focus immediately shifts to the final game of the World Series, and whether or not Tony La Russa is going to bring back ace Chris Carpenter. As things stood after the game, there was no official word just yet.

"I just barely started to think about tomorrow, but actually it'll be fun to think about it now because there is a Game 7," La Russa said. (I) might just roll Jake (Westbrook) back out there, who knows."

It's pretty doubtful La Russa is seriously considering Westbrook. The other options as Game 7 starter would be Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson. Jackson's a much better bet than Lohse, but it just feels like a sure bet Carpenter is going to go -- even if he wouldn't say so either.

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"We'll see what happens," he said in the locker room after the game. "It's not my choice, it's theirs."

Carpenter has already told reporters he's ready to start if called upon and he said that he would prepare all day Friday as if he is the starter.

This may be a situation where the decision has already been made and the Cardinals just didn't feel like telling anyone or wanted to allow the Game 6 heroics of David Freese, Lance Berkman and more to be the story.

During the regular season, Carpenter pitched on four days' rest 18 times, five days' rest 14 times and six days' rest once. He made zero starts on three days' rest. He did make his first start of this postseason on three days' rest, Game 2 of the NLDS versus the Phillies. He lasted only three innings that game, giving up five hits and four earned runs while walking three. And the Phillies offense is far inferior to the Rangers.

Then again, if your other options are Jackson and Lohse, don't you just roll the dice with Carpenter instead? I would. And it's pretty likely La Russa will, too.

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Short leash for Garcia in Game 6



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- After just three innings, Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia is done. He threw 59 pitches, giving up five hits, two walks and two earned runs. He has now been replaced by Fernando Salas with the game tied, 2-2.

It's not a huge shock that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went to his bullpen. He has starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson down in the bullpen and his ballclub will lose the World Series with a loss Thursday night. So he's not messing around.

The Cardinals have already set the postseason record for pitching changes -- this was the 66th, and the previous record was 62 -- so Game 6 might just put that thing out of reach.

Follow along live on CBSportscom's GameTracker

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 6:00 pm
 

La Russa cracks another joke to press

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has been animated and, frankly, pretty funny for the overwhelming majority of the World Series. He continued the theme Thursday afternoon, before a crucial Game 6.

In looking back on the Cardinals' season, losing ace Adam Wainwright for the season back in February was a devastating blow, yet here they are in the World Series, two games away from a World Championship. A reporter asked La Russa what if he heard, back in late February, that his team would be in Game 6 of the World Series. His reply?

"I would have kissed your butt at home plate (on) opening day."

It brought the house down. Again. As Gregg Doyel wrote earlier this series, the La Russa we've seen in press conferences for the World Series is a totally different version. He's just enjoying himself, and in past years that didn't always seem the case, at least not outwardly. This La Russa is relaxed. He's cracking jokes in the dugout to reporters during batting practice. He's laughing during press conferences.

"We've had a lot of fun," he said.

Evidently that's what happens when you get to the World Series without your ace.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 7:10 pm
 

La Russa, Washington talk 'Moneyball' on day off

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- With the unexpected night off, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he is finally going to see "Moneyball," the movie depicting A's general manager Billy Beane's approach leading up to and during the 2002 season. La Russa also gave a cautionary tale about being overly reliant on the walks part of on-base percentage.

"On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it's all about getting on base by drawing walks, and the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone," La Russa said.

La Russa was discussing how important it is for hitters to jump on the first pitch if it's a good hitter's pitch, because they might not see another good one to hit the rest of the at-bat. He wasn't saying he's against working the count or batters taking walks; instead saying that focusing too much on the walks might hurt the offense in taking too many good pitches to hit.

As far as the movie itself? "Brad Pitt is a great actor," La Russa said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington is actually a character in the movie, most notably the one with the line "it's tremendously hard," after Beane (Pitt) said to Scott Hatteberg, "first base isn't that hard, tell him, Wash." Washington was also asked about the movie Wednesday, and he's already seen it. Did that exchange with Beane, Washington and Scott Hatteberg actually happen, or was it just a Hollywood throw-in?

"Yes, it did, but it happened in Phoenix," Washington said. The scene in the movie took place in Hatteberg's house before the A's even signed him, not spring training.

"I've always been a matter-of-fact guy, and I just point-blank told Hatteberg that it's going to be difficult."

Washington also acknowledged what the movie neglected to: "I realize they didn't mention Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, (Barry) Zito, (Tim) Hudson, (Mark) Mulder, but that wasn't what it was about."

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 6:41 pm
 

MLB correctly errs on side of caution



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Major League Baseball had a tough decision Wednesday. On one hand, the weather reports for the scheduled game -- Game 6 of the World Series to those who have been living under a rock for the past week -- looked bleak. Does the league take the chance that the game is marred by weather, like Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees this season or, even worse, Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and Rays? On the other hand, what if the forecast is wrong and the league is embarrassed again, just like in Game 2 of the ALCS, when it was a sunny day when the first pitch was scheduled, but the game was postponed earlier that afternoon?

That was the issue facing Major League Baseball. Ultimately, it factored everything in and believed the prudent decision was postponement.

"You get to Game 6 of the World Series, and you want to guard -- as long as you have a forecast that we're expecting clear weather tomorrow, and if necessary the next day, I think that was more of a decision-maker than anything else, just the fact that we're anticipating rain during the game," MLB vice president Joe Torre said Wednesday afternoon.

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"(The game was postponed) just basically for convenience," Torre said. "Because of the forecast there was no reason to wait any longer, and the earlier we can do it, the more people can change plans and do what they need to do, and including the players and managers, too."

Torre mentioned also that this next game being a possible clinching game of the World Series weighed heavily on the decision, again, teamed with the fact that the forecast for the next two days seems clear (Weather.com's hourly forecast for Thursday night, at this point, has a zero percent chance of rain throughout the game).

Torre also noted that the decision was entirely made by Major League Baseball officials, and that there was no input from either the Rangers or Cardinals.

"(Tuesday) I talked to both Wash (Rangers manager Ron Washington) and (Cardinals manager) Tony (La Russa) that if the forecast didn't get measurably better that we were probably going to call it early, and they were both understanding of it," Torre said. "They didn't offer any kind of strategy fight on it."

La Russa and Washington echoed that sentiment.

"No, I was given output," La Russa said. "I just picked up the phone, they said, 'The game's postponed.' No input."

"I want to play," Washington said. "I wasn't asked, but I want to play. But I understand the situation."

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler had a similar mindset to his manager.

"It's frustrating as a team," he said. "Same as the regular season, we wanna play every game when it's scheduled. But that's the way it goes."

"It's frustrating that you wanna get these games in because you have so much anxiety," Cardinals second baseman Nick Punto added. "There's an excitement to get ready for Game 6, and then they tell you to go home to be with your family and get ready to go tomorrow."

Despite the frustration at the weather, every player I heard from at least seemed understanding with the situation.

I think everyone would agree it's better to have the game played from start to finish with no delays to protect the integrity of the game. Most involved parties said as much, including Torre, La Russa, Washington and Kinsler.

So complain if you must, but realize there would be complaining if the game was interrupted for several rain delays, too. Major League Baseball was put in a no-win situation by bad weather, and decided to err on the side of caution. In a game as big as Game 6 of the World Series, we can't really ask for much more.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Albert Pujols made the hit-and-run call in Game 5 Tuesday. Remember, this was the one where Mike Napoli threw Craig out by a country mile at second base, clearing the way for another intentional walk to Albert Pujols. At the time, the game was tied, 2-2.

Monday night, La Russa would only say the following about the mishap:

"It was a mix-up, and on our team nobody gets thrown under the bus. So it was a mix-up."

Some players in the locker room had told reporters that Pujols was the one who made the call, but La Russa wouldn't do so.

That fact had obviously been weighing heavily on La Russa, because upon entrance to the interview room in Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon, he said he wanted to talk first (usually the manager sits down and waits for questions). And he had plenty to say, speaking for several minutes about Albert Pujols and the seventh-inning caught stealing play.

Evidently Pujols has the privilege to call hit-and-run on his own. Obviously La Russa wouldn't reveal the sign Pujols uses, but he used it Monday night in the seventh inning with Craig on first base and Alexi Ogando on the hill.

"I think it's important to be accurate and then everybody has to be fair as they want to be," La Russa said. "If you look at the history of baseball or sports, I don't care what your sport is, when a player shows that they really have a feel for the game, coaches give them a lot of well-earned ability to influence what goes on. So Albert has that ability. (He) picked a 1-0 pitch, Ogando threw it out of the strike zone, and it didn't work. But it has nothing to do with Albert having special privileges or not being as great as all of us have seen him be for years, and a lot of us that know him on a daily basis say he is."

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As La Russa mentioned, Ogando threw the pitch well out of the strike zone and Pujols neglected to swing. Remember one of the fundamental parts of a hit-and-run is that the batter is required to swing.

"Well, they teach you to swing if you can get -- and he can reach a lot of pitches, but that one (would have) just wasted a strike," La Russa said in defense of his star. "There's no way he could have reached it, although you try to protect the runner the best you can."

Craig was then thrown out and Pujols was then given a free pass for the third time of the game. It's surprising someone with the bat control of Pujols wouldn't just attempt to foul the pitch off -- especially since he was sure to be intentionally walked once first base was open. Basically, it was pretty obvious Pujols just didn't think the entire situation through. If he had, he would have realized it was a bad idea.

As Craig entered the dugout, La Russa could be seen questioning Craig. The manager was simply figuring out who called the hit-and-run.

"I thought, holy smokes, sometimes you have a regular sign, sometimes you have a flash sign, and I thought, crap, did I put it on?" La Russa said. "Is that the normal hit-and-run? What was that? And he told me. So then I said, 'okay.' I was just glad I didn't put it on."

Now, it might appear La Russa contradicted what he said Monday night -- regarding not throwing people under the bus -- in telling the media that Pujols made the ill-advised call. We didn't get an answer on this front, but the best guess is La Russa discussed with Pujols that he was going to come clean while also defending Pujols. It wouldn't make any sense to alienate your star player before Game 6 of the World Series -- especially when said star is about to be a free agent.

La Russa also defended himself for allowing a star player to have the kind of leeway Pujols does during the World Series, specifically pointing to Ian Kinsler having a green light to steal bases -- which directly led to the Rangers winning Game 2.

So there you have it. Pujols made an ill-advised hit-and-run call while the bullpen phone messed up La Russa's plan for how to attack Mike Napoli. If nothing else, the combination of the bullpen phone snafu and this botched hit-and-run attempt have shown the Cardinals certainly haven't lost a step in the drama department.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:57 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 3:56 am
 

Transcript: La Russa's communication breakdown



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tony La Russa's non-move in the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 4-2 loss was certainly baffling -- CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler didn't understand why La Russa left Marc Rzepczynski in to face Mike Napoli, the Rangers didn't understand it and even as La Russa tried to explain it in his postgame news conference, people in the room still had trouble figuring out why the left-handed Rzepczynski was facing the right-handed Napoli.

So, if you aren't quite confused yet -- check out the entire transcript of La Russa's postgame news conference, even though it's not guaranteed to clear anything up (with the non-pertinent parts replaced): 

Q. Could you take us through the thought process leaving Rzepczynski in to pitch to Napoli.

La Russa: Well, what happened was that twice the bullpen didn't hear Motte's name. They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't get Motte. I looked up there and Motte wasn't going. So I called back for Motte and they got Lynn up. That's why he wasn't supposed to pitch today, so I wasn't going to let him throw that hitter. He just threw the warmups and walked him and Motte behind was ready. I don't know if it was noisy, probably real noisy. They just didn't hear the second time.

Q. (Inaudible).

La Russa: They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't hear "Motte", and when I called back I said "Motte", they heard "Lynn". So I went out there, wrong guy. He's not going to pitch today. I said, "Go back, get Motte ready. We'll walk the guy because I don't want Lynn to he is not supposed to pitch. I didn't want to hurt him. And then Motte came in. That's why -- it must be loud. I give the fans credit.

Q. Has that ever happened to you before where you had a call to the bullpen and guys didn't hear you right?

La Russa: Yeah, well, sometimes real loud, especially when some of the bullpens that are right amidst the fans and excitement. It happens in Philadelphia. It's hard to hear it there. So it's not unusual. Maybe we need to come up with some ear mikes or something.

Q. Just to be clear, if Motte was ready, he would have faced Napoli?

La Russa: Yeah.

Q. So you had no choice at that point

La Russa: He was warming up, so I said, "Get Motte up," and they heard "Lynn". But by the way, we had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball.

Q. Not to be dense, but what's the sort of procedure in terms of when you guys have the phone call and call down there, who gets the word, and how do they convey it?

La Russa: The bullpen coach hears it, and like he heard "Lynn".

Q. Oh, he heard "Lynn"?

La Russa: Yeah, that's why Lynn got up, and I went out there. I thought it was Motte, and they were yelling at me as I went out. I didn't hear them. It wasn't Motte. So I saw Lynn, I went, oh, what are you doing here?

Q. On the telephone he didn't hear it?

La Russa: Yeah, when you say "Motte", they heard "Lynn". It wasn't supposed to be Lynn because he wasn't going to pitch today.

Q. I think this was brought up earlier but is there a problem when something like that can happen? Is there a better way to do it, bullpen phones in this day and age?

La Russa: Yeah, smoke signals from the dugout. There are times, like what happened in Philadelphia, the phone went out, and so we used cell phones, and then the Phillies brought down walkie talkies, and they fixed the phone. But that phone in a loud ballpark, it's not an unusual problem. I mean, it doesn't make it right, but...

Q. You said it happened twice?

La Russa: When Rzepczynski first got up, I mentioned Motte's game.

Q. So Motte ends up -- did you want both of them to get up?

La Russa: Motte was just going to go along because I was hoping that we'd get the left hander out and then we were not going to pitch to Napoli, and then we were going to go after Moreland. And then Motte would have been ready if they brought a pinch hitter.

Q. I guess this is a protocol question: If Lynn isn't available for this game, doesn't your bullpen coach know that?

La Russa: He's available in an emergency, but I wasn't going to use him. But if he hears "Lynn" and I'm the manager, what is he going to say

Q. That's why I was saying is there a protocol thing. Does he say "Tony, are you sure on Lynn?" Or something like that?

La Russa: I'm sure he's thinking that now, but when you hear something, he had a day off, but like I said, he wasn't going to pitch until Game 6. I saw the big fella come in, and I said, "Why are you here?" He came to pitch. "Walk the guy," because the next guy was going to pitch.

Q. The decision to pass Cruz, was that done with the idea thinking you had Motte for Napoli?

La Russa: Well, I was more thinking that we had a real good chance with Rzepczynski with a pinch hitter or not, and if we got an out or not we were going to pitch around Napoli and then go after the left hander. And if the worst happens, then we would have stalled and got Motte ready for Napoli. But he wasn't throwing,so we couldn't get him ready. That's when I called the second time and said "Motte" and they heard "Lynn".

Q. One more clarification: Is that conversation between (pitching coach Dave Duncan and and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist)?

La Russa: It depends who makes the call. I made the call.

Q. So you made both calls?

La Russa: Today I did.

La Russa's counterpart, Ron Washington said the noise has hampered his ability to talk to the bullpen before at Rangers Ballpark. 

Q. Tony said that he wanted Motte in the game, bullpen coach heard "Lynn" on the phone. He said that's happened to him before, was just a complete mix up, bullpen coach didn't hear him correctly. Has that ever happened to you?

Washington: Yes, it has. It has. And you've got to do what you have to do.

In a bit of interesting timing, on Sunday the New York Times wrote a fascinating story on the dugout phone as the last bastion of the landline, and how it's one of the last places where cell phones aren't used, even though the Cubs and Reds have both experimented with cell phones in the past. Perhaps a text would have worked well -- except anyone who has their cell service through a certain company that rhymes with "AT&T" may scoff at the notion of getting a signal in a crowded ballpark.

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