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.
A brutal couple of updates on the night of Jose Fernandez’s death from Jeff Passan of Yahoo and from Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald.
Passan reports on the leadup to the fateful boat trip. About how a friend of one of the other men killed on the boat had pleaded with him not to go out in the dark. Then there’s this:
After Saturday’s game, Fernandez had asked a number of teammates to join him on the boat. One by one, they declined.
Marcell Ozuna was one of them. Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports:
Following Monday’s game, Ozuna said he turned down an invitation from Fernandez after Saturday night’s game to go out with him and join him for a spin on his boat . . . “That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out,’” Ozuna said. “Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me.
Losing a friend and teammate under such circumstances is brutal enough. Adding on survivor’s guilt would be close to impossible to bear.
David Ortiz has used Derek Jeter’s Player’s Tribune as his personal podium all year as he says goodbye to the Major Leagues. He continues that today, on the eve of his final series against the Yankees.
In it Ortiz talks about what playing the Yankees meant to him over the course of his career. About how the fan hate was real but something he embraced. About how the series back in the days of Jeter and Pettitte and Mariano and Mussina were “wars.” He also talks about how the Yankees were basically everything when he was growing up in the Dominican Republic. The only caps and shirts you saw were Yankees shirts and how they were about the only team you could see on TV there. As such, coming to Boston and then playing against the Yankees was a big, big deal.
Ortiz says “[s]ome players are born to be Yankees, you know what I’m saying? I was born to play against the Yankees.”
And he’ll get to do it only three more times.