Tony LaRussa isn’t a particular favorite at CSTB, but even we have to admit that
he’s a pretty fair drunk driver he has been a successful manager. Whether that success has anything to do with his surpassing inability to notice what his charges are or are not injecting into one another is a matter of perspective — a lot of people would say yes; Buzz Bissinger, for his part, would start sweating a little, his eyes would get really wide, and he’d find the most insulting and ad hominem way to say no. But whether LaRussa’s success is due to his superhuman drunk-driving ability and responsible personal judgment baseball brains/gut or his state of the art ability to not notice things, one thing that has not been argued that his success as a manager came from a nuanced understanding of the interplay between citizens and the state. It’s just not as important to the job of manager as failing to notice a player’s dramatic increase in hat and neck size.
Of course, just because LaRussa’s interest in politics — beyond his well-documented animal advocacy, which is totally cool to the extent that it doesn’t involve REO Speedwagon — has never been noted doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some very well thought-out and articulate opinions on the issues of the day. All he needed was an opportunity to share them with the public, which is something that doesn’t happen often when the entirety of your interactions with the press involve explaining
why you were asleep at that traffic light how you plan to use Felipe Lopez and Brendan Ryan in different situations. The appearance of the alternate universe merry pranksters known as the St. Louis Tea Party at Busch Stadium on Wednesday presented just that opportunity to LaGenius, and he did not let it pass.
First, some context. The St. Louis Tea Party, like the national demi-organization to whose fervid and contradictory gripes they share, function like trolling YouTube commenters. So their appearance at Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks was couched as a “buy-cott” of Arizona — a clever inversion of the world boycott, if you didn’t get it, in which they express support for Arizona’s ultra-draconian immigration law by buying tickets for a Diamondbacks game in St. Louis, which buy-cott’s a whopping 42 cents per admission in the direction of the visiting team. Oh, and despite wearing Cardinals red, the Tea Party fans waved Arizona flags and did some outreach. “Saying hello to people who aren’t Tea Partiers,” St. Louis Tea Party head Bill Hennessy told KSDK’s Mike Garrity. “And we introduce ourselves with a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and just say, ‘Here’s a gift. If you’re interested, get a hold of us.'” So yeah, that sort of thing. Basically hard-core trolling that believes that it is actually heroic resistance to an out of control state from a bunch of people who think Rand Paul is the true intellectual heir to Thomas Jefferson. So, kind of the usual for them.
Anyway, the proper response to this, from a fan’s perspective, is something along the lines of “Thanks for the copy of the Constitution, but could you please stop waving that flag so I can watch Nick Stavinoha ground out?” The correct response from a manager when asked about the presence of Tea Party trolls amid the paying crowd is probably something along the lines of what the Cardinals presented as an official answer: they’re “delighted” to welcome anyone to the ballpark, even those whose insistence on small government leads them to support a massive and invasive expansion of police powers and a de facto suspension of the presumption of innocence for darker complected people. LaGenius, because he’s old school and doesn’t believe in playing percentages, decided to go with his gut. Thus, per Salon’s Steve Kornacki:
La Russa took the occasion to praise the Arizona law, which Major League Baseball’s players union has condemned. “I’m actually a supporter of what Arizona’s doing,” the skipper said. “You know, people don’t fix your problem, and the government, national government doesn’t fix your problem, and you’ve got a problem, they’ve got to take care of it themselves.”
He also had kind words for the Tea Party activists: “This is America, right? You’re supposed to be able to have opinions and disagree, and a lot of things they do I think are correct.”
Well played, Tony LaRussa! Admittedly, that’s not terribly articulate or even terribly comprehensible, but it’s nice to at last find out what LaGenius is paying attention to while his players are doing whatever it is they’re doing with those syringes. That the answer turns out to be “Glenn Beck’s foreword to The Overton Window” is surprising at first, but LaRussa has been
staging silent, somnolent protests against the creeping tyranny of DWI laws at traffic lights going against the grain for years. That is what has made him a winner. Well, that and the inability to notice the change-in-hat-size thing.