I found an interesting article from Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on an angle of the Tony La Russa retirement that I’m sure not a lot of fans considered, but it is certainly interesting. Should La Russa be allowed to come back to manage the National League in the All Star Game next July in Kansas City? Apparently, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig thinks it’s a good idea…I don’t.
In Hummel’s article, it points out that La Russa is technically in line to manage the All-Star game against Ron Washington of Texas. What would most likely happen is Milwaukee’s manager Ron Roneicke will take over those responsibilities. It’s also possible that the new manager of the Cardinals could take over that duty. Selig said, “I’d like to see him do that. We’ve got to see what happens.”
This has happened before. Hummel points out in 1972, after Danny Murtaugh of Pittsburgh won the 1971 World Series and retired, he managed the following All-Star Game even though Bill Virdon had replaced him as the Pirates’ manager.
Here’s where the problem lies. It was Commissioner Selig’s idea to place some value on the All Star Game by having the winning league secure home field advantage for the World Series. Back in 1972, the game meant nothing more than for a way to showcase the game’s best players in an exhibition game. Not saying that La Russa would lose his knowledge of the game, but now the manager chooses his bench players and the moves he makes has an effect on the World Series. I’m not sure any other manager or club for that matter would want someone retired, with no vested interest in home field advantage running the show. I’m not even sure La Russa would go for that idea.
However, I think it would be a great gesture on the part of MLB to allow La Russa to suit up one more time in his Cardinals uniform and act as a ceremonial manager. Allow him to come out on the field and stand on the foul line during the team introductions and National Anthem. Have him run out the lineup card to the umpires prior to the game and allow him to be in the dugout during the game. The biggest reward for managing in the All Star Game is knowing your team played in the World Series the year before…I’m sure that is gratifying enough for La Russa, but it gives baseball one opportunity to celebrate the career of the manager with the third most wins.