Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a provocative column today, trying to drill down into why, exactly, things got out of Tony La Russa’s control in Game 5. It goes in a direction that I’ve not seen anyone take — and I predict that Bernie will catch some serious hell from some quarters for even raising the issue — but he asks whether La Russa is burnt out or, alternatively, whether his medical treatment for shingles has caused him to lose an edge.
Please read the column before you spout off. It’s measured and reasoned and ultimately Bernie is, I think, correct in saying that it’s silly to make any definitive judgment about anything based on a couple of mistakes in a single game. Miklasz himself calls the notion that La Russa is done or close to it “ridiculous.” I agree.
But they are questions that, even if they’re not germane to La Russa at this particular time are germane to any person in a stressful job as they get older. Every general, public official, coach, teacher, executive, factory worker and every other person in a position of power, influence and responsibility reaches a point where it’s not as easy to do what used to come so easily. If it’s burnout it could come at age 30, not 70. If it’s exhaustion it could come and then go with some rest. If it’s age, well, there isn’t a hell of a lot we can do about that yet.
But it’s worth asking the question. Brave column, Bernie.
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.
When Mike Hazen left the Red Sox to go run the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox set out to look for a new general manager to replace him. Now, according to Pete Abraham, they may not replace him after all. Instead, president Dave Dombrowski may just leave the seat vacant and run the Sox all by himself.
Which, to be clear, is something Dombrowski is more than capable of doing, as he has been a general manager for decades now. A lot of this stuff is a function of job title-inflation, with guys in Dombrowski’s position being given elevated titles despite the fact that they are, more or less, still running the baseball operations department like they did when they were merely general managers. GM, meanwhile, has become a less authoritative position in many organizations, making it a somewhat less visible and perhaps less desirable job than it used to be.
Not that it’s totally about optics. The job of running a ball club is a lot more complicated than it used to be, and having one guy who can run big picture stuff and close deals like Dombrowski with another one being in charge of the more day-to-day tasks of the top baseball executive may be ideal. It also may help reign in some of the excesses of the top guy. Dombrowski, after all, may have been a master of a the big deal while running the Tigers, but in a lot of ways the win-now philosophy cost the club a lot of money and a lot of lower level talent. Another voice with a decent degree of power may be useful in that mix. As may a clear line of succession should Dombrowski decide to move on in a year or two.