It was just three nights ago that the St. Louis Cardinals completed the one of the most unlikely World Series runs ever; unlikely not just because of how many games back they were in late August or the surprising development of their young bullpen, but also because they were being managed by a man who used his every decision as if to defy the existence of math and science. That was Tony LaRussa, St. Louis' "radical conservative", the third winningest manager in baseball history. While LaRussa seemingly made one questionable decision after another, there's no denying that in victory, LaRussa left his fingerprints all over the Cardinals' championship run.
Cardinals fan and sports blogging godfather Will Leitch weighed in with his LaRussa thoughts at NY Mag today. His words, after the jump...
Cardinals fans both adored and despised La Russa the way a child adores and despises a parent. His constant my-way-or-the-highway standoffishness — it was not for nothing that his best friends in sports are Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, and Bob Knight — drove fan favorites like Brian Jordan, Colby Rasmus, and even Ozzie Smith out of town. And, yes, we Cardinals fans were as exhausted by the pitching changes and David Eckstein–Nick Punto fetishism as you were. But you always felt better having La Russa managing your team; you always knew that Dad had your back. It was comforting, in a way, knowing that the manager of your team so desperately wanted to win that it would drive him insane. He might have been a madman, but he was our madman.
My other favorite take came from Deadspin's Drew Magary, who added "He'll be replaced by a series of seven spot appearances from alternating right- and left-handed managers."
One thing's for sure: replacing LaRussa is as impossible a task as any in sports right now. No matter what happens with free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols, the Cardinals will feel dramatically different next year.