Never afraid to be his own man, Tony LaRussa is now the only manager in Major League Baseball history to retire after winning the World Series, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals after 16 seasons.
Your feelings on him aside, his legacy looms LARGE within this organization, community and fan base. Time romanticizes everything, and when you make the most improbable of post-season runs, lead a parade of hundreds of thousands of Cardinal Nation down Market Street and then retire? The news is only a few hours old and this already feels like a movie.
Midway through 2012, it’s going to feel like a looming specter hanging over the left field fence at Busch that Ballpark Village never has provided.
We’ll have much more on LaRussa this week, but a few thoughts immediately in the aftermath of this surprise bombshell.
+ I’ve always like LaRussa. Maybe it’s because I feel like he gets just as pissed as me when the Cardinals play like crap. Maybe it’s because his daughter Tweets at me now and again. Or anything in between. But the most formidable years of my baseball fan development were formed with LaRussa at the helm of my team. He’ll be the stick I measure other managers against, not Herzog.
+ Number 10 will not be worn again by a Cardinal. It’s possible that two future retired numbers will leave the Cardinals after the same Championship season. That’s crazy.
+ The next manager of the Cardinals needs to have experience. Remember when Tino Martinez replaced McGwire? That was awful. And Martinez was an established MLB player. A good one at that. Back to my point about the romantic nature of this exit. There will be no ‘what ifs’ for TLR. He left at the top and the next manager will have to live up to that expectation. To put a first time coach in that dugout with what will be a championship contender in 2012 is a mistake.
+ Probably not happening, but I’m looking at Joe Maddon in Tampa and thinking he’d do just about anything for this job. I’d love to have him. If I had to bet a buck, I say Jim Riggleman takes the reins.