UPDATE: Tony La Russa doesn't give a s— what you think

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La Russa McGwire.jpgUPDATE:  Readers who heard the un-bleeped version of the broadcast mentioned below are telling me that the expletive in question was “s—” and not “f—.”  I went with the latter earlier because that’s what the linked transcript said, but in hindsight and based on what the readers are telling me, I’m switching.  Whether that changes any of the below analysis in your mind is up to you.

Missed this yesterday somehow, but Tony La Russa has a response for people — like me — who think that his Sgt. Shultz routine with respect to steroids in Oakland and St. Louis is pretty dubious:

“Well they can believe it or not. I don’t really give a fuck shit to be honest. If they think that I’m lying, then they think I’m lying. I’ve tried to build my career on credibility and trust, that’s what we do with our players. I’m telling you – we ran a clean program. That’s the way it is. That’s what I say, that’s what I believe. If they believe differently, that’s America, they can believe anything they want to.”

That came in a radio interview on 101 ESPN in St. Louis with Bernie Miklasz yesterday.  A transcript of his comments — and there were many others — is here. The audio of the whole radio show is here.  It’s worth listening to all of it, but the blockquoted bit comes at the 13:10 mark.

You know that I have something approaching a “who cares” attitude about much of this, but I’m struggling to see why the same people who are so disgusted when Mark McGwire says something incredible (i.e. that he doesn’t think steroids helped his performance); seem to have no condemnation whatsoever for Tony La Russa’s completely baffling denial of reality.

Where is Jon Heyman on this? Where is Ken Rosenthal? Mike Lupica? Dan Shaugnessy?  Why doesn’t Tony La Russa get a scintilla of the heat that his former players get over this? In any other context, be it sports, government or business, the man in charge would be held to answer for the transgressions that occurred on his watch. But not La Russa.

I actually agree with 90% of what La Russa says regarding McGwire in this interview. And I completely understand both the intellectual and emotional reasons for why he defends Mark McGwire. But for him to continue to claim that he had no idea what was happening in his clubhouse without anyone accusing him of incompetence, willful ignorance or tacit complicity is utterly baffling to me.

The only conclusion I can draw is that those who claim L’affaire McGwire is such a big deal are not nearly as serious about the subject of steroids in baseball as they are in scoring easy points and trafficking in phony moral outrage.  Because if the outrage was real, it would be directed at Tony La Russa. And Bud Selig. And the owners, agents, managers, sponsors, reporters and everyone else who either knew about steroids or were willfully blind to the issue back in the day.

UPDATEFOX’s Kevin Hench is on the case at least.  

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.