I hate Tony LaRussa and I hate the St. Louis Cardinals! Today, for the first time ever, I hated a team more than I hated the Chicago Cubs! For those that do not know, the Milwaukee Brewers just completed one of the sweetest series victories I can remember by beating the LaRussa managed St. Louis Cardinals the day after LaRussa had his pitcher throw at Ryan Braun twice after his own firstbaseman, Albert Pujols (a.k.a god in St. Louis) was accidentally hit in the arm by a Brewers' pitcher. His catcher, Yadier Molina, gave Milwaukee fans a tantrum for the ages when he bumped the umpire three times and spat in his face (intentional or not, the ump ended up with Yadie's saliva on his face) and was ejected from the game. LaRussa then called Milwaukee fans idiots in a post-game interview, whining that they were too mean and stupid. By the way, this all happened in the game after LaRussa filed a complaint that Milwaukee ribbon lighting was not bright enough when his team batted, and brighter when the Brewers batted.
Tony LaRussa is the most whiny, hateful, frustrating, and angry SOB managing in Major League Baseball today. Many blog and beat writers are saying that his antics were unprofessional (they were), his tone offensive (it was), and his reaction too impulsive (also true). What is worse, he makes his team that way also (just youtube Yadier Molina). However, what they are missing is that this is good for baseball, especially in Milwaukee. Baseball, like many professional sports, has gone soft. Gone are the glory days of the rivalries that were sold-out no matter what; gone is the bad blood between players on rival teams that made those games so satisfying and fun to watch. Three years ago, the only games that were sold out in Milwaukee were Cub games because Cub fans bought the majority of the tickets. This past series with the Cardinals ended with two straight sell-outs! The fans at the park and following the game at home or online were dying for win, to shove LaRussa's face right in the dirt Yadier's spit landed on when it wasn't in an umpire's face.
LaRussa thinks he is an old-school manager; his throwing at other team's stars when his gets hit accidentally is evidence to that. He has won over 2,600 games as a manager. He's great, don't get me wrong. His downside comes in his games with the media. We whines, complains, and only stops short of throwing himself on the floor crying and screaming to get his way; all in order to get inside the opposing team's head and play with their minds. 60 years ago, DiMaggio gets plunked by a Red Sox pitcher, Williams gets hit his next time up. That's the end of the discussion. No one says anything about it to the media, everyone goes about their business. Sure, if someone gets thrown at again, benches clear; but it STAYS ON THE FIELD! Back then, that was enough to keep fans coming; now, in mid-market towns like Milwaukee there needs to be a combination of a winning home team (which the Brewers are this year) and hatred for an incoming visitor (which LaRussa made so convenient in this series).
The Brewers play the Cardinals nine more times this year. I will almost guarantee the Brewers will be booed in St. Louis and that the Cardinals will find Milwaukee more unwelcoming next time they come than when they go to Chicago. Milwaukee baseball is on the rise; the Brewers have a personality that becomes boarder-line cocky when they win (ask the Giants about Prince's home run celebration). LaRussa tried to play mind games with the Brewers and their fans; what he didn't realize is that he was the one being played, and it made everyone realize that the Brewers are for real, which is good for baseball in Milwaukee and around the nation.