People’s mileage tends to vary on Tony La Russa. No one denies his success, but he does get criticized for his style.
For example, he’s been accused of cultivating that whole “I am a baseball genius” thing, which grinds folks’ gears. In fairness it isn’t anything he’s ever explicitly said, of course. It’s just an inference many have made based on watching him over 30 years or however long he’s been around. How much of that is a part of his personality and how much of that is merely our defensive reaction upon watching someone who, to be honest, could very well be smarter than his peers is an interesting question.
But whatever the truth of the matter is, La Russa is capable of some humble perspective. Like he showed in this interview with Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times, when asked about his massive victory total:
From the White Sox to the A’s to the Cardinals, I have never not had the good fortune of the ownership and the front office and the players. If you ask (Rays adviser) Don Zimmer right now to put a hand on the Bible, or a Racing Form, and you say, you’re going to tell me if Jim Leyland had been in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, he’d probably tell you — and I would agree — that he’d have more wins than I have. Or Jim would have the 2,000 and I would have the 1,000. So when you look at the good fortune of the organizations, and you look at your friends and your peers, it’s tough to take (the success) personally. You appreciate the good fortune and leave it at that.
The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too, particularly his take on PEDs and the Hall of Fame. Worth a read on a slow day.