La Russa’s Game 5: Age? Medication? Exhaustion? Or does stuff just happen?

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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.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.