Cards skipper Tony La Russa “was booed nearly every time he peeked his ‘80s sitcom hair out of the visitors’ dugout,” writes CSN.com’s John Gonzalez, who takes stock of St. Louis’ master of (over)management shortly after his ballclub tied their National League Division Series with Philadelphia at one game apiece, despite such curious decisions as starting Chris Carpenter on two days rest or attempting a hit & run with the limping Albert Pujols on first base in the top of the 9th.
The Cardinals manager is often billed as a brilliant baseball man. It’s a reputation that makes La Russa a hero in St. Louis — and a villain almost everywhere else. The odd lineup where he bats the pitcher eighth. The extra in-game move no one else would have made. The sometimes condescending answers to otherwise innocuous questions asked by the curious/perplexed media. It all makes him easy to dislike, especially if you aren’t a Cardinals fan.
On Twitter, there were jokes about him being the equivalent of a Little League manager (because he likes to make sure everyone plays) and a hockey coach (essentially screaming “line change!” every few innings). That’s the problem with being a genius, real or perceived. The hoi polloi loves to catch Mr. Smarty Pants with his trousers around his ankles.
Even though La Russa’s big gamble of throwing Carpenter in Game 2 didn’t work out at all, and even though the Phils were fortunate enough to face a Cardinals bullpen that was dreadful during the regular season and blew an astounding 26 saves, St. Louis still grabbed the victory and tied the series at 1-1. La Russa seemed pretty pleased about that thereafter — despite the fact that the biggest decision he made in the game, starting Carpenter, nearly put his club two-game hole.
It’s that attitude, that chest-puffing superiority even when success comes almost in spite of his direct decisions, that bothers some people.