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.  

Angel Hernandez ejects Asdrubal Cabrera from a spring training game

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You don’t see many ejections in spring training games. The stakes are virtually non-existent, so it’s not like a player is likely to blow up at a bad call or something. That’s especially true now, as we enter spring training’s final week. Everyone wants to get through it uninjured and without fuss. And it’s getting hot in Florida in Arizona too. No one’s got time for that.

Yesterday Asdrubal Cabrera and Angel Hernandez did, though. Cabrera was batting in a road game against the Nats. He asked for time to step out of the box. Hernandez didn’t give it to him. This annoyed Cabrera who, after hitting a single, jawed at Hernandez as he ran out of the box and then pointed at him once he reached first base. Hernandez ran him.

Cabrera didn’t quickly leave the field. He took a slow, slow walk to the outfield and left via the gate in right, which is where visiting players tend to enter and leave spring parks. Watch:

 

Here’s what Cabrera told reporters after the game:

“‘C’mon, man, you’re better than that,’ ” Cabrera said, recalling what he yelled at Hernandez. “And he threw me out.”

Eh. I have no love for Angel Hernandez, but “you’re better than that” is a weak sauce insult. For one thing, maybe the person isn’t better than that? For another, it’s functionally equivalent to “you know better,” which is a thing a parent says to a kid. It’s fine when your dad says it, but Cabrera isn’t Hernandez’s dad and thus saying so carries with it an implicit belittling intent. It’s an ad hominem, which violates the usual ump-player understanding in which you can say a call was b.s. but don’t say the ump is a jerk personally.

More generally, it’s just cowardly. It’s designed not to deal with the substance of the beef. “You are a fine person all of the time, kind sir, but in this instance you are not up to par.” Well, why? Say so or shut up and quit being passive-aggressive.

Again: Hernandez is generally horrible. He’s not better than that, actually. But Cabrera deserved to get run, if for no other reason, than his insult was lame.

Report: Jung-Ho Kang not granted a visa to enter the United States

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This could be a problem for the Pirates.

Ballwriter Sung Min Kim tweets that, according to a Korean report, which you can read here if you know Korean, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang has been denied a visa to enter the United States. The report just broke this morning and has yet to hit the English language press.

He adds that the report suggests that Kang, who was just convicted of a third DUI in Korea, may have a DUI conviction in a third country, though that part is unconfirmed. It’s also unclear whether that, or the mere fact of his conviction in Korea, has held up his visa.

Either way, Kang has yet to see a day of camp and will almost certainly not be ready to start the season for the Pirates, even if he gets his visa today. It sounds, however, like this could be a more drawn out process. We’ll stay tuned.