In the autumn of 2009, Jorge Posada was Public Enemy No. 1 to Phillies fans. It wasn’t because of his batting, though he did drive in five runs in the World Series. No, what Jorge Posada did was go to the mound to talk to the pitcher approximately 45 times every batter—this is an exaggeration, but not by much—and make the games slower. In Game 4, he went to the mound eight times in a single inning.
The 2011 Phillies had a stellar pitching staff and an offense that couldn’t seem to even look at any pitches at times. (For example, the Phillies saw 12 pitches in the first two innings combined on Saturday night.) This combination of great pitching and crappy hitting led the Phillies to lead the National League in shortest time-of-game this season. This was great. Baseball is often long and boring, and the Phillies at least made sure it wasn’t that long.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wants no part of this efficient baseball. On Sunday in the seventh inning, La Russa made three pitching changes, grinding the game to a halt. Much like in 2009, Phillies fans had to suffer through the slow game while being down on the scoreboard, too.
La Russa also took time out of the game Sunday to complain to the television announcers about the strike zone. The interview was accidentally hilarious; he opened the interview claiming there were two different strike zones for the teams—Two strike zones?! That’s one too many!—and was so flustered he later said of pitcher Fernando Salas, “The reason he’s so vulnerable, I mean valuable, is because he’s so versatile.” A record for similar v-words in one sentence!
None of this was wrong, per se; La Russa was managing by the rules of baseball to help his team. Whatever. This is the playoffs. Phillies fans can still hate him for it. There’s no doubt the game today will feature more La Russa shenanigans, so I’ve compiled a hater’s guide to Tony LaRussa.
He makes wacky lineup moves. La Russa is probably most famous for occasionally batting the pitcher eighth in the lineup. This actually doesn’t appear to be bad strategy, as it allows the No. 9 batter to get on base more often and be driven in by the best hitters at the top of the lineup. But, look, this is Philadelphia, and Philadelphia fans don’t like coaches who do unconventional things like make their offensive line coach their defensive coordinator.
He complains about everything. It’s not just the strike zone. The Brewers Bar helpfully compiled a list of Tony La Russa complaints over the years in August, one of which was a tiff over “slippery” baseballs. He also complains a lot about other people complaining, a fantastic trick of anyone who enjoys whining.
He’s coached the game’s biggest steroid users. La Russa managed both Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire in Oakland as well as McGwire again in St. Louis, and hired McGwire back as a hitting coach with the Cardinals. When Steve Wilstein reported on McGwire’s use of andro (then legal) during the 1998 home run chase, La Russa wanted the Associated Press banned from the clubhouse. (Note: To get angry at La Russa for this, you’ll have to ignore J.C. Romero testing positive for a banned substance, then winning two games in the 2008 World Series. Please do this.)
He got a DUI. La Russa got drunk and fell asleep at the wheel of his car in 2007.
He doesn’t like Nyjer Morgan. There will be plenty of time to bash the Milwaukee Brewers’ Morgan when the Phillies play Milwaukee in the next round. For now, the man also known as Tony Plush is awesome. And, what do you know, La Russa had harsh words for Morgan earlier this year.
He’s a Tea Partier. It’s not just that he supports the Arizona immigration law or that he and Albert Pujols went to a Glenn Beck rally. It’s that he clearly has no clue what he’s talking about. Actual Tony La Russa quote on the Beck rally: “I don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political.”
He sued Twitter over a Tony La Russa parody account. Yes, really.
I believe that’s enough ammunition to mock Tony La Russa for at least the next two games in the series. Remember, you’re allowed to yell anything at your TV as long as no one is listening. Again, it’s the playoffs.