Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland

Tony La Russa has big plans for his time in Tigers camp

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Tony La Russa is in Tigers camp, spending his first spring training as a retiree by hanging out with his buddy Jim Leyland.

He’s doing so in a non-official capacity, but as Tom Gage of the Detroit News notes La Russa still has some pretty big plans:

Tony LaRussa in Tigers camp. Said his two goals are to get Leyland “to eat tofu and stop smoking.”

To which Leyland replied:

Leyland about LaRussa’s tofu and smoking jab: “I didn’t start smoking until I coached for him.”

I’m among the people excited about Showtime choosing the Ozzie Guillen-led Marlins as their subject for this season’s “The Franchise” series, but everyone else is missing an opportunity for documentary gold by not following La Russa and Leyland around 24-7.

Imagine all the shots of La Russa poking his head into a room and saying, “Jimmy, are you smoking in here?!” as Leyland frantically puts out his three simultaneously-lit cigarettes and tries to wave the smoke away. And then imagine the two of them sitting down for a lovely tofu dinner at which Leyland requests a table in the smoking section, gets a dirty look from La Russa, and uneasily laughs while saying, “Hey, just kidding, right?”

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.