TONY LA RUSSA: No chance to get that
You're on the verge of winning the world
championship, can you talk about your mood a few
hours before the game. Are you excited, are you
trying to play it down? What are you going to tell
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, as soon as the
game was over yesterday, the club's attitude, and
we've gotten to the win that moves us forward, this
will be the third time, so we've had some
experience with this. And the frame of mind of the
club is outstanding. You've just got to keep doing
what you've been doing.
The thing is we know that the Tigers will be
ready to play. We'll be ready to play and then you
play the game. But part of the fun is being excited.
I'm not trying to -- our club is not trying to be cool,
and what's the big deal? This is a very exciting
tournament to be a part of and to be in this
position. But we understand. They've got their
pitching lined up and they're saying the right
things. I think we're saying the right things, so let's
Jim Leyland told us last night that
he would not pitch Kenny Rogers in the game
tonight under any circumstances, quote,
unquote, he doesn't want him to pitch in this
atmosphere. Considering they have to win or
go home, and he has the hottest pitcher in
baseball on full rest, are you surprised that
they're worried about the atmosphere would
overcome him here?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, let me tell you,
however Jim figures it, I guarantee you that's as
good as you can figure it. He knows his ballclub,
he knows the game. He considers everything, he
goes very deep with all his decisions. And I think
the thing that he said makes the most sense. He's
got pitching lined up, if they play three games.
And they have to get all three games played to
have a chance. I don't see where there's really an
I think the only thing -- this is the Midwest,
St. Louis, probably if Rogers is going to pitch in a
visiting park and get less hostility than some place
else, it would be here. Our fans are respectful.
If I could follow-up on that:
Knowing you, he said, "We have to win three
games." And I can't imagine you saying that. I
can only imagine you saying, we have to win
one game, and then another game and another
game. So can it be dangerous to look ahead
and say we have to win three, instead of just
playing for tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: I guarantee you what
Jim told you and what he told his team are
different. He probably told them -- he's just giving
you a brief look at -- he told his team, we've got to
win. We've got to win one before you can two or
Trust me, they're saying all right things and
they're including Jim. They are thinking all the
right things. They will be ready to play. We know
they take care of business. Our responsibility is to
take care of the Cardinal business, and understand
how ready they are to play. We need to be as
ready to play as we can be, and then you play the
How much different does your
lineup look? What has it done to your lineup to
have both Rolen and Edmonds hitting the ball
as well at the same time as we've seen them in
I don't know how many weeks or months it's
TONY LA RUSSA: I go back to 2000,
when Jim is swinging well we're one different
looking offensive club. Ever since Scott's been
here, when Scott is swinging well, we're a -- when
they're both swinging well, with the other guys,
then we have a chance to break through against --
no matter what park, what conditions, whatever
But this game, we talk about this all the
time, this game is all about what's next and the fact
that we play to this and guys that pitched and hit,
it's always what you do next. We've got a next one
Chris Carpenter has never pitched
on three days' rest, how much does that factor
into your decision on what he may or may not
TONY LA RUSSA: I would say it's
something that you note. I don't think in his career
it was important to bring him out with three days'
rest. The situation he's in now makes you consider
it. I answered that the other day by saying that we
seriously considered whether it was the
Championship Series or this series, if it had been
lined up with Chris the first day, we were thinking
about pitching him with three days' twice. Typical
1, 4, 7, as the ace.
I think there's very little doubt in our minds
that if this game was over and we're down 2-3, he
would pitch on three days' rest. But we're not in
that situation, so right now it's just all about today.
Before you took the job here in St.
Louis, there were other offers that you were
considering. You had some discussions with
Baltimore. How serious were those talks ever
and do you ever think about how your life
might have been different if you had made a
TONY LA RUSSA: I was in the American
League, I wanted to stay in the American League.
As I said before, Sparky, who I respect as much as
anyone, told me, "Before you leave, you've got to
manage in the National League. You'll enjoy it." I
did everything else Sparky said, so I assumed I
was going to do that.
Biggest problem in Baltimore, and I was
intrigued by that history, not to go back too far, I
had a good relationship with Cal. But the day I met
there, I would never discuss a managerial job
unless that job was vacant. And I thought it was
and when I found out that Phil Regan was still
under contract, I got back home and said, I better
not be considering it.
If you guys win the World Series, do
you think that would do anything to change the
perception of the National League compared to
the American League right now?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know the way I'd
like to answer that, we get the next win, I would
look forward to considering that. But right now
consistent with what our club is saying, what our
coaches are saying, what I'm saying, there's no if.
This is continue to play and find a way to win a
game, and then we'll happily look at stuff like that.
We didn't have a chance to follow up
on this last night, I don't remember the exact
wording, but you said something like Eckstein
has more guts or more heart than you've ever
seen in a uniform. What goes into that
TONY LA RUSSA: That's not to
disrespect other guys that -- I can remember
Carney Lansford in Oakland was -- go back and
back, guys over the years, but to me what
separates David is his stature. He's not especially
big and especially strong, and he gets beat up.
And if you're bigger and stronger, maybe, it still
hurts, but you have a chance to deal with the
blows a little more. And he is just a man of iron. I
look at way guys slide into him and the way they
beat him up and everything else he does and the
way he responds, I think he's the toughest guy I've
What have you been told about the
weather, if anything?
TONY LA RUSSA: Haven't heard from
MLB yet. I've heard all throughout the day that
there's a good chance that by game time we won't
be dealing with significant rain, we'll be dealing
with a lot of wind, a lot of cold and the field will not
have had a chance to dry out.
Arguably on paper the '04 team was
more talented than this one, why do you think
this one has had success in the World Series
where the other one didn't?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, one of the
neat things about this, and that's why you go into it,
you realize it, baseball repays the team that plays
the best. And that's why sometimes you get this,
sounds like sour grapes, and the team that loses,
look at their talent, they beat us, but we're the
better team, kind of on paper. But you play better,
I forget, I was talking to somebody the last
couple of days and I knew I had a little
understanding of it, but they really kind of trotted
out all these teams with the best record that didn't
get the final prize, and it just proves it. You get into
October, three out of five, four out of seven, a
game or two a pivotal. If it goes against you, you
can get beat.
I'll never forget my first experience with
that, in '83 I thought we were a really good club
against Baltimore. Baltimore had a really good
club and we got beat. In '88 it wasn't that the
Dodgers weren't good, they were beat up. Gibson
didn't play, Scioscia was hurt, they couldn't pitch
Hershiser right away. We had a really good team
and they beat us in five. I watched that game, and
every time they had to execute, they executed, and
we couldn't. I remember, oh, yeah, I learned. The
team that plays the best wins. And that means
they're the best in that game or that series.
So that's the mystery of these short
playoffs. You play better baseball, you have a
chance to win. That's what we've got to do tonight,
we've got to play better than the Tigers.
They say you never are supposed to
ask a parent who their favorite child is, and
maybe time has to be part of the element of the
conversation as well, but do you think ten
years from now or ten years when you're done,
there might be a team that you actually will
look upon and not the end result, but the team
itself, be one you'll be able to deem the one
you had the most fun with or the team you
enjoyed the most?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a great
question. I know one answer is even teams that
haven't played in October, I've had great respect,
great affection for, and I could name several,
because I think they over -- we shouldn't have
been .500, we were .500; we should have been
.500, we were over .500, you know what I mean.
Some of these teams that have played in
October, there was no bad memory. And each one
is special. So if you're leading up to, with one with
83 wins, where does it rank, just different
categories. I've been really lucky over the years.
Have you enjoyed a year more, if not
the team, take the team element out of it, have
you ever enjoyed a year maybe more than this
one, still with something left to accomplish?
TONY LA RUSSA: We lost 23 in a row
one time, and that wasn't too enjoyable.
I tell you what I've enjoyed, and it wasn't
stuff about the underdog, because those are just
labels and people have to make picks. I've
enjoyed the first day in San Diego to last night. I
mean the club has really gotten into it. The bench
has been alive as good as I've ever been on a
team, encouraging, and that's been exciting, that's
been fun, to see the guys really pulling hard, trying
everything they can. So in the end you have no
regrets, if somebody beats you, you tip your cap.
Sometimes you get discouraged and that's really
been a neat part of this club. And that's why I'm
confident tonight. You're going to see our best
effort and they're capable of beating us, but you
will see our best effort.
Are you aware that you're more
emotional or at least it looks that way on TV?
TONY LA RUSSA: It's just because there
are more cameras and they catch you. I'm pretty
much the same as I've been.
On a daily basis you probably had to
do more maneuvering and shuffling of your
lineup with this team than any other
postseason team you've had. Would you talk
about the challenge of that and it must be
rewarding to this point, because it's worked, so
many different parts of it and so many different
guys have stepped up and done things, it
hasn't been the same people day after day?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, a good example
is today. It's literally flipping the coin between So
and Preston. Either one of those guys can go in
there. It really hasn't been too much strategizing.
Our situation is a little bit different. A lot of times
the teams that get into October and then you win a
series of two, your core is larger. And those are
the guys you have to play, unless there's an injury
or somebody is really, really off, you rest them one
day. The series is too short to be messing around.
With us it's been different. We've had a
different situation here, and more guys were a part
of it and so we've just tried to keep the same style
that -- it's what our club represents.
Would you suggest Oquendo be
considered for some of these managerial
TONY LA RUSSA: My first experience
with him several years ago, this is a really, I'm not
just talking about smart, but instinctively, he's got
great insights. I think he communicates real well.
He loves to work. He's a great teacher. I think
there's a lot to -- the guy is a great third base
coach, and can be -- because you've got to
manage when you coach, so that you have a feel
for the game. I saw Jim do that, Rene Lachemann,
so there's no doubt in my mind that Jose would be
an outstanding manager. I think the key is asking
Jose, because there's some baggage that
attaches, and you have to make a decision where
you want to go with that. But as far as
qualifications, without a doubt.
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