But regardless of style, there's no questioning LaRussa's success. He's third in all-time victories as a manger, he has six pennants and 3 World Series championships. He revolutionized the way bullpens are used in baseball today. He is probably the greatest manager of his era. And in 5 years or so he will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
And this year, as it appeared he had mellowed a bit, as I became more comfortable with his approach and its obvious success, he probably turned in his best performance. The Cardinals' journey to and through the postseason has been well-documented, and it mustn't be forgotten, for it is the context, the subtext, the atmosphere in which LaRussa did his finest work.
And we learned today that Tony had made the decision to retire about the same time as his ball club began to get busy. It was coincidental, he said, but still one can't help but try to connect the dots.
Tony's decision surprised me initially, but regarding all the circumstances (the World Series title, his age, his health, Dave Duncan's future, Albert Pujols' future, to name a few) it really makes a lot of sense.
For all the aggravation I felt about him over the years I always anticipated this day would bring me some relief. But it doesn't. Darn it, Tony, you made a believer out of me and now you up and leave.