La Russa goes out a winner

Following the St. Louis Cardinals magical run to the playoffs in September and to a World Series Title this past season Tony La Russa announced that he is retiring.

A winner of three World Series titles (one with the Oakland Athletics, two with St. Louis) and one of two men to win a Championship in both leagues, La Russa is stepping down after 33 years of managing.

La Russa finishes third on the all-time managerial wins list and likely could have caught John McGraw for second place had he stayed around another season. However, for managers of over 600 games, La Russa doesn’t even crack the top 40 for top winning percentage.

Following the Cardinals World Series Championship, the 67-year-old La Russa announced to the team that he wouldn’t be returning, which caught some of them by surprise. No other manager has retired almost immediately after leading his team to a World Series Title.

La Russa stated that he informed Cardinals GM John Mozeliak that this would be his final season back in August, long before the Cardinals began their tear down the stretch that led to St. Louis’ 11th World Series Title.

Recent years have seen a number of managerial greats retire, and La Russa will be eligible to head to the Hall-of-Fame the same year as Bobby Cox and Joe Torre (who are 4th and 5th on the all-time wins list).

A four time manager of the year (who has a shot to win it again this year) La Russa loved to tinker with his lineups (he occasionally batted the pitcher 8th) and bullpen to get the most out of his players.

Unlike so many others, he had the chance to go out on top and took it, as the Cardinals likely would have had him back regardless of what he said in August after their spectacular finish.

The biggest issue facing the Cardinals next season is whether or not superstar Albert Pujols will come back, something that could have made La Russa’s job much more difficult if he walked. Since 1986, La Russa has coached just one and a half seasons without Mark McGwire or Pujols on his teams.

There is also a chance that La Russa’s longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan will retire before next season.

Hired for the first time as a manager in 1979 with the Chicago White Sox, La Russa finishes with a number of accomplishments. Aside from the Series Titles and all the wins, La Russa led his teams to 12 division titles and six pennants and finished second all time for postseason wins.

For the Cardinals, the search for a new manager will likely begin immediately. With baseball’s offseason already in full swing (Derek Lowe has been traded and CC Sabathia re-signed) they will need to deal with their own outgoing free agents and begin putting together next year’s team.

For La Russa, it’s time to start enjoying things besides baseball. He stated he may be open to working in baseball sometime in the future, but not after a nice vacation. He was at the St. Louis Rams game this weekend and joked about his future occupation: “Maybe [I’ll] open a bookstore.”

Used with permission of the author.

Brett is the editor and a contributor for www.BravesFTW.com. He has covered MLB and the Braves for numerous websites and is a regular contributor to Sports Climax. Follow Brett on Twitter.

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