Blog Entry

La Russa denies playing head games

Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:22 pm
La Russa

By Evan Brunell

Let's dive right into it. Tony La Russa doesn't think he plays head games with opponents. Right.

"I think the opposite is the reputation I've established," La Russa told's Danny Knobler and other reporters after a spate of recent incidents involving La Russa have caused the issue to boil over. "I've had a number of times to play that -- tricks and [cheap shots] -- and we don't ever get into it. I trust our players, and I have for a long time."

Tony La Russa

Except that tricks and cheap shots are La Russa's kingdom, with the Brewers the latest target. The Brewers Bar lays out La Russa's complaints over the years.

Last week, La Russa complained about the ribbon board at Miller Park, home of the Brewers, to the umpires. He also called Brewers fans "idiots" after a Milwaukee pitcher dared plunk Albert Pujols. He said that the ribbon board shines brighter when the Brewers are at bat. The manager also got upset earlier this season when Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman called starting pitcher Chris Carpenter "a whiner and an excuse maker." There are plenty of other incidents in past years, which you can read about here, such as complaining about slick baseballs, or the bullpen mound not being uniform to the mound on the playing field.

But nope, La Russa says that head games and complaining aren't his forte.

"I trust our players. Somebody has an issue, whether it's [saying that] the balls are slick in Cincinnati or whatever, and it's guys like John Smoltz and Chris Carpenter, I don't say, 'You've got to be kidding me. Who are you to complain?' When you've established what they've established ... I trust our players. If you trust your players, you're responsible for following through with it. That's what I do. But the people who know me, I shy away from that stuff, because the game is supposed to be played between the white lines, so you try to avoid it at all costs."

"I think it's just the nature of, if you look around, the nature of the game," he added. "If both clubs are competing, it doesn't have to be, but once in a while, you have some sparks. And you can have two clubs that are having a tough year. You can have a club that's having a good year and [one having] a tough year. I think the whole key is just a competition. If both sides care, they always believe their side of it, you know?"

Not much else to add here. Frankly, La Russa over the last few years has evolved into a curmudgeon who stirs up trouble, thinks a little too much of his baseball genius (to be fair, La Russa has been a fantastic manager and helped evolve the game with his bullpen usage) and runs talented young players (Colby Rasmus) out of town.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 21, 2011 7:59 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:35 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:14 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

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Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: August 11, 2011 2:14 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

Um, not sure what you're talking about. STL is probably the quickest team in MLB to retaliate for an inside pitch.  
Correct.  I was saying, if a Cardinals pitcher throws up around the head, La Russa ends up screaming at them.  You can retaliate by hitting a guy in the back or the hip... I'm not anatomy major, but those are both away from the head.  Again, I would like to reiterate, I am NOT an anatomy major... if your head is stuck up your @ss, then the hip is probably close to your head.

Since: Nov 21, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2011 9:11 am

La Russa denies playing head games

This article reminds me a lot of Pro Wrestling.  You know, when the bad guy notices the ref is "distracted" he "digs" brass knuckles into the good guy, then when the ref is "looking", he starts shaking his head and hands to say.. "no, no, no, I have done nothing wrong...", and then the ref turns away and the bad guy goes back to "digging" those brass knuckles into his opponent....and on and on and on.

Even Lance Berkman said it best.  Not a word for word quote, but something to the effect of:  Lets see.  Cardinals complain/stir up Cubs, Cardinals complain/stir up Brewers, Cardinals complain/stir up Reds.  Whats the common thread here?

Enjoy long winter, Tony.  Go have a beer some night, just control your drinking.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:00 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

Are some of you guys a little slow??? The one and only single point of the article is... "LaRussa obviously plays or at least attempts to play mind games and even though that’s all painfully obvious, he still denies it." That's it. Nothing else.  Additionally, that intended point is completely accurate and it’s factually backed up in the article.

Okay, now here is NOT what the article is about: (1) whether LaRussa has earned the right to do so or (2) whether everyone else is doing it or even (3) if the writer is an idiot, etc.  It’s about the fact that he does it and denies it.

Man, some of you guys are just either morons, psychopaths or simply too mentally skewed on the subject to be objective.  Of course for some of you the answer is probably, “all of the above.”  

Get a life already.

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:14 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

Except that tricks and cheap shots are La Russa's kingdom, with the the latest target. lays out La Russa's complaints over the years.

No, his kingdom is his 2 world championships and 5 pennants with 2 different teams. His crown jewel is being only the 2nd manager in MLB history to win world series in both leagues. Only the late, great Sparky Anderson did that.

So what if he plays mind games? Phil Jackson was the master of that and parlayed it into 11 titles. Bill Belichick does it every single week.
Bill Parcells, Red Auerbach and countless others did that as well. The great ones use psychology to their advantage.

This is yet another pathetic attempt at writing by Evan Brunell. He belongs @ TMZ, not writing about sports.

Since: Mar 29, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:09 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

I think everyone in sports plays head games Peyton manning doesit all the time Farve did it. come on lets see Braun got hit and he hasnt said a word about it. you all think la russa is god at least you all talk like he is. what he is doing is playing head games with everyone who dislikes him because you all cry about it. im a cubs fan and sure i dont like guy but i m not lettin him bother me. what you need to look at is the Brewers threw at albert 1st and so there was retailiation. its all done with nothing happened last night its cool its baseball. so all the whinny brewer fans are still crying about this and now there saying the guys able to get in peoples heads What Ever...............Money mouth

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:05 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

I love the Cardinals like Bud Selig likes hearing and reading his name in the press. Love, love, love the Redbirds. I'm so ready for the LaRussa era to be a part of the past. I've said it 100 times and I'll say it again--when left to his own devices, LaRussa figures ways to lose games. Case in point, had Isringhausen been healthy in '06, no way the Cards win the World Series. Arguably, they would have been a much better team througout the season had Izzy not been the mix. But Tony loved him. 

I'm ready for a manager in STL who loves baseball as much as the fanbase...but someone who is more excitable than most of our sit-on-our-hands knowledgeable fanbase. Someone who will let the GM put together a load of talent and actually allow that talent to play and improve with the expectation that they need to execute, and that it doesn't have to be within the "LaRussa Box of Baseball Philosophy." 

You trust your players, Tony? Really? Sorry dude, everything points to the opposite. Nice move last night, btw, letting Edwin Jackson hit for himself with runners on...then not sending him back out to throw. That made a hell of a lot of sense. 

Lastly, this post gives way too much credit to LaRussa for the bullpen usage, and not a mention to Dave Duncan.  

Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:50 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

The game against the Brewers TLR had an issue with pitches being thrown at Albert and the lighting and the fans. Hmmm, I guess he just really doesn't think to much of Milwaukee and that is just fine.

To think that pitchers don't have the right to pitch high and in on Albert is rediculous. The guy hits a ball low and outside 400ft and a pitch low and in about 420 and a pitch middle to high outside about 450. I mean the guy is a beast up at the plate. I think the Brewers were doing what they needed to do to get him out and the 1 -14 I believe it was against them at Miller Park was evident of that. The plate appearence where it was said that "Albert tried ducking out of the way", really? Have you seen that play? He check swing that pitch and the ball hit his bat.

What is really pathetic is that the pitcher that hit Braun didn't even get a suspension. Any time a pitcher throws at a batter not once but twice normally gets a suspension.

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