As you may already have heard, former Cardinal manager Tony La Russa recently announced he would be publishing a book titled “One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season.” Aside from being overly wordy, the title is also a little misleading, as La Russa just turned 67 at the beginning of last October. If the book is to cover 50 years of baseball, as the title proudly boasts, then that means a retrospective look at his entire career starting at the age of 17. Surely even Tony isn’t arrogant enough to think that any reader cares about the first 15 years of his “career” in baseball, most of which were spent in the minor leagues, where he made nearly 5,000 plate appearances spanning from 1962-1977. Somewhere in the middle of that time span, he did appear in the big leagues for small parts of various seasons, hitting a cumulative .199/.292/.250. By the way, his minor league numbers weren’t a whole lot better. By 1979, of course, he was in his rightful place in the dugout, a place he would become very familiar with over the course of the next 32 seasons.
Now, before I go any further with this, I want to put my opinion on Tony La Russa out there in precise disclaimer form so no one gets the wrong idea when reading this: I am actually quite neutral about the guy. He has many admirable qualities, is loyal to a fault, and is no doubt smarter than myself. That being said, he can also be something of a stubborn, spiteful, self-serving son of a bitch who seems to lack any ability whatsoever to handle a tense situation diplomatically. In short, he did some good things and he did some bad things, just like everyone else that has ever lived. So do not take me for a La Russa hater regarding the following content; I hated some of the things he did but am thankful he led the Cardinals to such a productive era, even if he doesn’t deserve all the credit or nearly as much attention as he received. In all fairness, he doesn’t seem to care what people think of him at all, so a few jokes at his expense should be perfectly safe, even if Tony himself were analyzing this post word for word. And you know what? I hope he is. That way he can see me write that if this book is anything like his managerial career, it’ll go on and on forever and actually have some pretty great moments, if only because he had an entire roster of incredibly talented writers helping him with it. It would also become the third best-selling book of all time behind Twilight and uh, I don’t know, The Bridges of Madison County. (continue reading…)