If the 2012 MLB All-Star Game was the last we'll see of Tony La Russa in the dugout, count this St. Louis Cardinals fan satisfied. Not only did La Russa and the National League roll to an 8-0 victory; not only did the Cardinals who played--Matt Holliday, David Freese, Carlos Beltran, and Rafael Furcal--all play a role in said victory; but The Genius went out the way he came in, with a ton of strange pitching changes and an undeniable track record of success.
Melky Cabrera was the deserving MVP, capping off a return from the prospect wilderness with an All-Star Game home run, but you'll have to forgive those of us in St. Louis for imagining this as one last run from the Tony La Russa-Dave Duncan tandem that powered more than a decade of Cardinals success. When La Russa gave his giddy postgame interview and sounded, for once, like someone completely unworried by conspiracies or perceived slights--well, the 2011 World Series finally sank in for me.
That's what last year was about, in hindsight: One more season consumed by questions of Albert Pujols's legacy, one more trip through the comically intense La Russa ringer. If this season has felt, so far, like a mostly successful hangover, I think this was the closure I needed.