Tony LaRussa will be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
He caused a stir in St. Louis earlier this year when he announced that his plaque would not include the interlocking STL, but instead his cap was to remain blank as a nod to the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics.
Oakland and Chicago shrugged. Much like thanking your high school drama teacher for your Oscar – a nice thought, but no one would of blamed you if you went the other way.
But the Cardinals took the high road after having feted him properly in 2012 and bestowing the highest honor a franchise can – number retirement. They said they understood his rationale.
After all, he was committed to ‘The Cardinal Way’.
When the team established the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the new Ballpark Village, LaRussa, once again, was treated as one of the franchise greats. Enshrined in the inaugural class. He came to town, smiled for the cameras and left.
Not content to work with MLB as a ‘Special Assistant to The Commissioner’, LaRussa has now taken a position with the Arizona Diamondbacks as ‘Chief Baseball Officer’.
La Russa will report to team president and CEO Derrick Hall and oversee the entire Baseball Operations department, placing him above [D-backs GM Kevin] Towers in the pecking order.
I’m sure Mr. Towers is thrilled to now report to a new superior a quarter of the way through the season. The cold hard reality? When you’re a crap baseball team, there isn’t much you can do to change your fate mid-stream. You either start trading your assets for future assets or you don’t.
But that’s for the D-backs to worry about.
Let’s make 2 things perfectly clear:
1) The Cardinals weren’t going to make this position for LaRussa.
2) This is America. If someone wants to pay you to do something and you want to do it? Well, do it.
Still, it doesn’t change the fact that LaRussa, even after his most successful 16 years of his career, doesn’t think more of St. Louis than a place where he did a job for a while. He’s removed himself from a position where he could help all of baseball to place himself in a position where if he’s successful, he’ll have to root against the Cardinals.
So yes, TLR will be in Busch Stadium at some point, cheering for the failure of a team that won’t allow any other player or coach to wear his number.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit right.
You can’t go back and change history. It’s not worth it to un-retire a number (especially for something non-criminal). And unlike Albert’s cash grab, it will be in our faces sooner than later.
But hopefully it’s a lesson learned. Even when we think someone ‘retires’, we might want to have a cooling-0ff period before giving them all the accolades, you know, just to make sure they’re not going to go to the competition.
For now, we’ll have to stare at #10 along side the other retired numbers and wonder what TLR is thinking at that particular moment. Hopefully it’s something along the lines of “Damn, wish we had Mike Wacha”.