While the home team barely addressed his hours-old comments, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Sunday he does not expect to be fined or otherwise disciplined for complaining about Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox’s “strategy” of browbeating umpires into submission. He also called the tactics “a joke.”
“After (Saturday’s) game, I was mostly (irritated) about the Braves,” La Russa said. “Are they going to get on me about griping about the Braves? All I said was when you go against somebody who’s complaining all the time, you worry about how it affects the umpires. That’s not questioning anybody’s integrity.”
La Russa made his comments after the Braves defeated his team 3-2 on a Raul Mondesi home run in the ninth inning after tying it during a heated seventh inning in which La Russa (above) and reliever Al Reyes were ejected. La Russa alleged after the game that ongoing complaints from the Braves bench might have caused plate umpire Dale Scott to tighten his “aggressive” strike zone after the sixth inning.
“The biggest problem I have … I praise the Atlanta Braves as much as anybody. The only thing they’re not to be respected for is how they … moan about every freaking play,” La Russa said after the Braves rallied from an early 2-0 deficit for the win. “It’s so one-sided that sooner or later, it’s almost like a strategy. They beat the umpires down. It’s really bull and beneath the class of the organization. It’s a joke.”
A number of rival managers have long alleged umpires accord the Braves a wider strike zone than they do other teams. La Russa, who has managed against Cox in both leagues, is especially sensitive to the topic. La Russa went on to use a domestic analogy to further explain his concerns.
“If your wife was getting on you every minute, pretty soon you get tired of it, tune her out and say, ‘I’ll do whatever you want me to do,'” he said.
La Russa said his critique was not a personal issue between himself and Cox but added, “If I was an umpire, I would put them in their place.
“When I was a young manager (with the Chicago White Sox), Earl Weaver played it that way,” La Russa said, referring to the feisty Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles skipper. “They challenged every strike. … It’s hard for me to do that. It’s why I’ve never understood how it works for Baltimore and Atlanta. Over time, I’ve seen it when you jump the umpires like that. You get the worst of it.”