By Josh Kramer
Last night’s ending to the MLB season was a fairy tale ending. The final night of the season and Game 6 (Thursday) are two nights that will live on in baseball immortality. Anybody who wants to say baseball is boring can go right on ahead. If you do, you must not have been watching the conclusion to the regular season and a stellar postseason.
What St. Louis did was absolutely insane. Whether you are a Cardinal’s fan or not, you have to tip your cap to a team that never gave up. 10.5 games out of the playoff picture on August 25th. Down to their final strike on two different occasions in Game 6. No sweat. The Cardinals dealt with the adversity and conquered. In describing the 2011 world champs, two words come to mind. Improbability and resiliency. This was a team that nobody, including myself, gave a prayer in the world at even making the postseason. And of course, as they proved time and time again down the stretch, they never ever gave up. For the second straight year, a team that clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the season went on to win the World Series (Giants last year).
Now amid all of the insanity, in typical LaRussa fashion, the Cardinal’s manager stirred the pot. Has this guy ever just acted like he has been there before (considering he has) and taken something in stride. As I have mentioned before, LaRussa typifies much of what is wrong in the great game of baseball. He constantly stirs the pot. He is the ultimate “micro-manager” which leads to games lasting longer (a major problem in the MLB). And he condoned steroid usage as much or more than any other manager in baseball history. Apparently he never noticed anything fishy going on in the Oakland clubhouse with Canseco and McGwire. For all we know, he was joining in on the festivities and shooting up with the “Bash Brothers.”
But in typical Tony fashion, one of the all-time great skippers made a comment that made everyone and anyone who heard it scratch their heads in confusion. I realize that LaRussa considers himself the greatest baseball mind of all time. And that is fine. But could he possibly really believe the following statement? “That the game has never seen a better catcher than Yadier Molina?” Now really think about that statement. Nobody is questioning that Yadier is a great catcher. The man has won three gold gloves and made three All-Star teams before the age of 30 for a reason.
Initially when I heard this statement. I said what about Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Ivan Rodrigeuz, Mike Piazza? And if I really took more time to think about it, people like Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, among others would pop into my head. Go ahead and bat your pitcher 8th Tony. But do not dream of making a statement as outrageous as Yadier Molina being the best catcher the game has ever seen before the guy even hits the age of 30. He may not even be the best catcher in his family. I will give you that he may be the greatest catcher ever to have a big old neck tattoo though. Maybe that is what he meant to say.
Tony LaRussa may have three world championships in his career. And he may have orchestrated perhaps the most improbable run in MLB history. But he still doesn’t “get it.” And sadly, he never will.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.