NOT A GENIUS
Tony La Russa
The four-time manager of the year stepped down after winning the 2011 World Series with St. Louis but says not to give him too much credit for his success.
What's the coolest piece of memorabilia you own?
TONY LA RUSSA: I like stuff that's personal. The first three All-Star Games that I managed, I got a game ball that was signed by the winning pitcher, the MVP and the closer. It comes to mind now because of the stuff that went on with Cincinnati about this year's All-Star selections. [The Reds were upset that second baseman Brandon Phillips and starter Johnny Cueto were not named to the NL squad.] I did pick Jay Bruce. The last out was a fly ball to Jay, and I had the game ball handed to me by a Reds player, which is pretty ironic.
What do you think of being given the title "genius"?
TL: It's embarrassing. I remember the first time it came up was the George Will book [Men at Work, 1991]. He picked me as a manager [to write about] because I was young and he wanted someone who would be around a while. When the book came out, we were playing well. It became an embarrassment because the same guy who finishes first and is supposed to be so smart finishes last the next year. It's a players' game. There's not a lot of difference between managers.
Looking back, could you have kept Albert Pujols in St. Louis?
TL: Had I stayed, I believe there was an accommodation that I could have convinced both ownership and Albert [to agree on]. I'm very close to both of them. I wish Albert could have stayed. I would not blame [either side]. I blame the system.
Why did you bring Mark McGwire back as a hitting coach?