Tony La Russa, fresh from winning the World Series last week with the St. Louis Cardinals and even fresher from stepping down as manager of the team Monday, hinted at a reason for his decision to quit in an appearance “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
Perhaps he was kidding ... or perhaps his penchant for turning every game into Kasparov vs. Karpov, as Yahoo’s Les Carpenter put it, was part of the reason he quit after 33 years, 16 of them spent in St. Louis.
“You know, 33 years of doing it, it’s time to give somebody else a shot at that great St. Louis job. And, you know, it got to where I was taking things personal,” he said. “We had a strategy that I took a little personally, but it was effective: The players said, ‘Just get so far ahead that you couldn’t screw it up,’ It worked, but I thought, you know, that’s not really the place I should be.”
La Russa, whose team beat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 on Friday night, said he already had a job offer, of sorts.
“I actually got a job offer this afternoon, I swear ... I did, I swear. My wife and I, we started a foundation about companion animal rescue, but there's a group called Performing Animal Welfare Society just outside of Sacramento ... and they offered me a job as an elephant keeper,” he said. “I told them I'll interview. I'm all for it.”
La Russa, who has a law degree, admitted, though, that he’s a baseball guy through and through. “I signed when i was 17 years old — that’s almost 50 years ago and it’s all I know,” he said. “I keep waiting for the phone to ring and it’s going to be a little scary if it doesn’t ring.”
Speaking of phones ... La Russa stuck to his story about the Game 5 bullpen miscommunication, which prompted him to make a dizzying array of excuses and was, he admitted, embarrassing. “I made so many excuses to cover my butt at the time that I forget which one it was.”
(World Series MVP David Freese hit “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” with less-interesting results.)