Tony La Russa returning as Cardinals manager

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After taking some time to ponder his future after the Dodgers swept the Cardinals out of the playoffs Tony La Russa will return for his 15th season as St. Louis’ manager, officially agreeing to a one-year contract with a 2011 option this afternoon.
At the press conference announcing his decision La Russa confirmed that Mark McGwire will be taking over for Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, saying: “I don’t know how many years I have left to manage, and I wanted to take this opportunity to invite a guy who I think has a very special talent.”
While the McGwire news will overshadow just about anything Cardinals related for the near future, the announcement that longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan will also be back in 2010 is likely to have a much bigger impact. La Russa and Duncan are one of the most successful manager-coach combos in baseball history, and Duncan’s ability to find gold in seemingly washed-up veterans like Joel Pineiro and Ryan Franklin is second-to-none.
Prior to hiring La Russa (and Duncan) in 1996 the Cardinals had missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons under Joe Torre and Whitey Herzog, but in the 14 years since then they’ve gone 1,232-1,034 (.544) with eight postseason appearances, two NL pennants, and a World Series win in 2006. La Russa ranks third all-time in career wins with 2,552 and the future Hall of Famer has spent 31 of his 65 years as a big-league manager.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: