(though the CSTB Book Of The Month Club cannot recommend the above volume highly enough, be warned that an autographed copy would not make an appropriate Christmas gift for Keith Hernandez)
Persons with long memories and/or high tolerance levels for complete bullshit might remember the 5 minute period during which Whitey Herzog was touted by some persons (including Whitey) as a sufficient replacement for Grady Little in Boston. Likewise, believe it or not, there were individuals licensed to operate laptops and heavier machinery who advocated Herzog as a qualifier successor to Tony Pena for a 2nd go-round in K.C.
As such, it’s time to crank up the annual talk of The White Rat finding a uniform that fits. At least until Lou Piniella’s agent tells his client to call Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman more often.
“The one thing I wouldn’t ever want is a one-year contract. I’d want a daily contract,” Herzog said. “That way if I drop dead, they don’t have to pay me.’
From watching four or five games a day on TV, Whitey surely knows he could still manage a game as well as anyone, and he wonders whether any teams will call. It becomes obvious, too, which team he’s been thinking about most (more on that later).
“I don’t think the ballplayers would be that much different,” Herzog said. The key, Herzog believes, is honesty.
“It’s out of balance [now]. It’s a home-run game,” he said. “You see a lot of opposite-field home runs and some broken-bat home runs. There’s probably a lot of HGH. They’re not using the body the Lord intended them to have. They’re using a different body.”
While the game has changed, Herzog’s style is still the same — straightforward. “We don’t pay as much attention to the fundamentals because they don’t pay for fundamentals. They only pay for home runs, RBIs, ERA and strikeouts,” he said. “You never hear anyone say, “The guy’s a great ballplayer. He really goes great from first to third.’ So why the hell should they pay attention to fundamentals?”
I asked him whether he thought he could get through to today’s ballplayers.
“No,” he said bluntly. “If I could get through to one or two, that would be pretty good. If you’ve got a good bunch of guys, that’s great. But some guys just don’t give a [hoot].”
Herzog said he received “five of six offers” the first 10 years after being replaced as Cardinals manager in 1990 by Red Schoendienst and eventually Joe Torre (Herzog accepted one, to run the Angels’ front office) but not one offer in the last three or four.
Herzog won’t say which jobs he’s turned down (“I can’t tell you that!”), but I think it’s pretty clear which job would interest him most. He’s still a Midwestern boy, after all, having grown up in New Athens, Ill. And there’s a certain team — within driving distance from St. Louis, no less — that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, which is 23 years before Whitey was born.
“I don’t know which jobs might become available,” Herzog said. “The Cubs would be interesting if you knew those two pitchers would get up off their ass and pitch.”
The NY Daily News’ TJ Quinn and Michael O’Keefe reported earlier today that Mark McGwire still doesn’t want to talk about the past. The News notes that MLB’s Mitchell investigation has no legal authority to compell McGwire to testify, nor is he obliged to cooperate given that he’s no longer active baseball.
Tony La Russa, however, is very much employed by St. Louis. Tony’s Cards are trying to snap an 8 game losing streak tonight against the Brewers, and they’re up, 4-3 in the middle of the 5th. The 100% Natural Albert Pujols hit a 2 run HR, his 34th, off Milwaukee’s Geremi Gonzalez (Ben Sheets bailed after one inning, supposedly suffering from a strained pectoral muscle). Surely there is no better way for La Russa to pay homage to the accomplishments of Pujols and other honest ballplayers than by his telling former Senator Mitchell everything he knows (if he hasn’t already). If the conversation lasts less then 30 seconds, at least we’ll know Tony did his part to clean up the game.