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.  

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.