Tony La Russa. Baseball Hall of Fame manager to be shocked the sports world by announcing his retirement after 33 years in the business this morning.
In 1978 he began managing, and came to the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox one year later.
La Russa knew in his heart it is time to step aside. That’s not an easy decision by any means. First, he said he never would have managed so many years without the support of his great wife Elaine.
“My first daughter was born a month after I started in Chicago. She had to raise on daughters on her own. We used to kid, on Fathers’ Day, we always got two cards, one for me, and one for Elaine.”
But “you have to look into the mirror and say to yourself, its time to quit.”
A World Series title allows him to go out on top. He can’t do any better.
John Mozeliak, Cards GM wishes nothing but the best for Tony. “He’s been a leader and a friend and never a happy day to see this come,” said Mozeliak.
“It’s a little scary going out there with nothing really planned. “The only thing I’ve known is baseball. I could open a book store, but we’d go broke,” said the Cards skipper.
La Russa says he’s ready to go do something else, and vows to his family he won’t be sitting around the house getting in the way.
Bill DeWitt, Jr. said a Tony La Russa is not easily replaced. “In terms of the managerial role, we’ll get a new manager and start a new era. Our team is in a pretty good situation for the future but it will be different, no doubt about it.”
La Russa is confident the owner and general manager will take care of it and find a suitable replacement.
That triggers speculation that will turn Cardinal Nation upside down.
Obviously, long-time third base coach Jose Oquendo would be the obvious successor. immediately. In a manner, he’s been manager in training for years. That makes a lot of sense to maintain continuity.
Keeping the relationship in place with Albert Pujols is critical with the start of his free agency now underway.
I offer my humble opinion where the Cards should go from here.
They should make the next manager Andy Van Slyke. Here is a guy who knows baseball in and out. He was a great team leader on and off the field for the Pirates, Cards and other teams. He nurtured his own boys, raising each one to be a baseball star in their own rights. He’s as much a St. Louisan as any candidate might be.
Van Slyke is a no nonsense type of guy. He wouldn’t take grief off of any ego-centric stars. He would be the general of the Army in the club house.
I always felt that Mike Shannon would have been an “in your face” tough guy manager. Shannon would have been truly great in that role. I really, believe Andy Van Slyke would make everyone happy.
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