What in the world is wrong with Tony La Russa? He’s suddenly taking the blame for the telephonic failures in Game 5 of the World Series Monday night? Come on! I wanted the La Russa who would see vast conspiracies, blame everyone from the umpires to Major League Baseball to the Texas Rangers — not the ball club, the actual Texas Rangers — and head back to Missouri with an Arch-sized chip on his shoulder.
I wanted to see La Russa install a pay phone in the visitor’s dugout at Busch Stadium for Game 6 — one that took only Susan B. Anthony dollars. Or better yet, have the line spliced so that when Ron Washington picked up the phone to talk to his pen, he’d be directly connected to Rigazzi’s on The Hill for an order of toasted ravioli.
Instead, La Russa was . . . humble. What the what?
Maybe La Russa mumbled, or bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist is hard of hearing. (Although how does one person say “Motte” and the other one hears “Lynn”? Were they discussing applesauce and country singers?)
What I really don’t get is how a hard line telephone can fail so spectacularly. More and more of us are living without them – you know who you are; you’re the people with whom I can never finish a conversation without having being disconnected at least once. And yet, when the earthquake hit, I’m the one who could make all the pointless calls telling people an earthquake hit. Ha!
But not only was the phone in question a hard line, but it’s a hard line that has to travel, what, maybe 400 feet? Children with soup cans and string have mastered this feat. And while yes, there is a lot of noise at a ballpark during a World Series, every doofus at every sporting event in America is talking on his or her cell phone with apparent ease; why can those dopes hear, but the bullpen coach can’t?
Time for a congressional investigation!
I’ve heard suggestions in the past 24 hours that managers should use email or text messages. So La Russa could message Lilliquist: “get L up LOL can u imagine no M” and Lilliquist reads “get L up” . . . and there you go.
So was it a technology failure, or not? La Russa would seem to be telling us no. Technology has mostly been a friend to sports: Scores in the top corners of our television screens, bright yellow first down lines, instant replay (on television) and replay (when officials are involved, it’s not instant), electronic eyes that help with line calls in tennis, huge HD scoreboards.
There are exceptions. Baseball has become overly dependent on weather forecasts (something the simplest farmer could tell you was a huge mistake), canceling games based on weather models. They cost the Nats a delightful matinee this season, and also caused officials to cancel Game 2 of the ALCS a mite early.
Twitter lets us know everyone’s innermost thoughts, including athletes’ — I’m not sure that’s an advancement. And while replay can be a boon, it can also be a buzz kill at the end of games when it delays the result (Kansas State-Miami, Wisconsin-Michigan State) or when despite its best efforts, officials can’t get it right (Toledo-Syracuse).
But whatever went wrong in Texas is fixable. If it was a miscommunication between La Russa and Lilliquist , they can work out a system. If it was the telephone, well, surely in the past 145 years we’ve made the advances necessary to summon the correct man from a few hundred feet away. Perhaps La Russa can say, “Mr. Motte, come here, I want to see you.”
Hey, it worked for Alexander Graham Bell. He asked for Watson, he got Watson — not Lance Lynn.