Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Tony LaRussa's best job ever

Last time I saw and spoke with Tony LaRussa was during a game I was broadcasting for the Giants
against the Cardinals at ATT Park in San Francisco
this season. I walked into his office early that afternoon at the Cardinals dressing room and
he asked me what kind of pitches did Giants
pitcher Brad Hennessy threw. I remember joking with my answer but telling him, nonetheless,
that I have not seen Hennessy that much and
was not qualified to answer the question.

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezFor Tony LaRussa this 2006 World Series was
his fifth and he won for the second time, -first of course-the 1989 Giants vs. A’S unforgetable
Earthquake Series. Tony and yours truly have a very important thing in common, we were both born the exact same day and year, October 4, 1944, he in Tampa,Florida, me 200 miles south in Havana, Cuba. I always joke with Tony when I see him and always tell him “I like to see who is looking younger”. The first time was during his years managing the Athletics and I remember I had to show him my California Drivers License to certify that I was telling him the truth and nothing but the truth.

His Cardenales this season won only 83 games
less than any other World Champion team.They were a team hurt by injuries all season long,
Chris Carpenter was coming out a year after
surgery (2005)when he didn’t play, Jim Edmonds
was out for a month and playing with all kind
of injuries, Scott Rolen the same. The Cards
lost their #1 closer Jason Isrinhausen. They made it to the finish line with an empty tank winning the
Central Division by just 1 1/2 games over the
Houston Astros.
As a matter of fact, the St Louis Cardinals had the
13th best record in all of the Major Leagues among
all 30 teams.

Many who dislike LaRussa will say he was lucky because when you dislike somebody in baseball
that’s always a good excuse. But looking at it
objectively, it is hard to believe when has he done
a better job. He didn’t have the horses this year
although he has the best player in baseball at
first base, who is going to be named soon the
National League MVP Albert Pujols. The other
World Series he won that 1090 he had one of the
best teams in recent history. You know the guys,
Rickey,Jose,Big Mac,Steinny,Stew and the Eck.
I was there with those guys and I remember
after droping the previous WS(1988)to the
much weaker Los Angeles Dodgers I was not very sure if they could even beat the Giants that season
but they were the best team before and after the
Loma Prieta earthaquake.

I was consistent with my erroneus prediction on
Telemundo(Bay Area)Univision(Fresno)KIQI radio
San Francisco, El Bohemio News,San Francisco and
XM Satellite Radio(Pelota Solamente)Nationwide.
Just about everybody(including this reporter)
predicted the Tigers. I picked the Tigers in 6, others
said Tigers sweep, some even said the Tigers in 3 !
yes, they were that good. But baseball, the type of game it is —- and we ha a crazy World Series were the Detroit Tigers in five games scored
11 runs and committed 8 errors. That is a recipe
for disaster and disaster it was for Jimmy Leyland’s
club. Five of those eight errors were by pitchers, a new World Series record. The Tigers young pitchers could not throw the ball to any base. Jeff Weaver was let go by the Angels yet the Cardinals picked him up and with pitching guru Dave Duncan’s help he was one of the key factors in the championship winning the final game(Game 5) of the World Series pitching the game of his life for 8 strong innings. Everytime the Tigers made an error
the Cardinals took advantage, then one of the
smallest but most determined and ‘hard nose’
players in the game 5’6″ shortstop David Eckstein
won the Most Valuable Player of the World Series.
Eckstein was just the fourth shortstop in World
Series history to win the MVP award, together
with Bucky Dent, Allan Trammell and Derek Jeter.

Tony LaRussa had better teams and lost. In 2004
his Cardinals were swept by the Boston Red
Sox, in 1988 and 1990 his Oakland Athletics lost
to the Dodgers and the Reds, but this 2006 season
there should be little doubt that he did the best
job ever, becoming only the second manager
in history to win World Series in both leagues,
only George”Sparky”Anderson in ’75 with the Red and ’84 with the Tigers can claim such accomplishment.

St Louis General Manager Walt Jocketty and manager Tony LaRussa together with pitching coach Dave Duncan delivered a World Series
title for the first time in that city since 1982 and
they deserve all the credit. I like to give a very
special mention to pitching coach Dave Duncan,
who has revived many pitcher’s careers, including
Dave Stewart in Oakland and now Jeff Weaver in
St Louis. Duncan has been pitching coach for
LaRussa since the 1980’s with the Chicago White
Sox,then the Oakland A’S and now for the past
12 seasons with the Cardinals. That is way much
longer than the average marriage in California.
The key to a good boss is the people he has working for him and I honestly believe Tony understand that there are few better pitching coaches in baseball that Dave Duncan.

St Louis is celebrating. A real baseball town. Many
teams when they win it they say the cliche
“these are the best fans in baseball”. But if you
have visited St Louis you come to realize that
this is not a front runner town, this is a baseball
town with a great tradition, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson,Ozzie Smith are frequently seen at the
park. This is baseball heaven and on the very first season at the new Busch Stadium they have a
World Series title.

And yes, the many days extra of rest that the
Tigers got, after sweeping the A’S in the ALCS
definetely didn’t help them, they were not ready
to play the Cardinals, they looked lost at times and certainly not even close to the team that beat
the Yankees and the A’S.

Last two World Series that I worked were 2000,
Yankees vs Mets and 2002 Giants vs Angels.
I didn’t worked this World Series, I would have if
one of these two teams(or both) made it:
Oakland,San Diego. So I watched the whole affair
in front of my television and may I say Dusty Baker has a future on ESPN and he might be there during the whole 2007 season.

Congratulations to Jimmy Leyland, the Tigers manager that showed a lot of class. Leyland
got his first big break as coach for the Chicago White Sox in 1982 by then Sox manager Tony
LaRussa. What a job of managing all season long,they are the American League Champions and will receive their ring as such next season.

Congratulations St Louis. This Bud for You !


1 Anonymous { 06.11.07 at 12:00 am }

I am the grandaughter of Pedro Cepeda, I have a picture of him and will make it available to you for your site.

You must log in to post a comment.