The one and only Charles Pierce on the one and only Tony LaRussa:
I first became aware of this particular blight when he worked in Oakland a decade or two ago, back in the days before Beane turned the A’s into a mirror with which to show himself his true genius. First thing you heard was that La Russa had a law degree. This was meant to portray him as something of a baseball intellectual, which heretofore had been defined as someone who spit tobacco on his own shoes and not yours. I was fascinated by the fascination with this; I mean, the world is full of lawyers. (So, for that matter, are various low-security prisons, but that’s another story.) I wondered how many of his acolytes would hire Tony La Russa and his law degree to defend them on a capital-murder charge. Not many, I reckoned.
Then there was the ballet school T-shirt. La Russa used to wear this all the time in his post-game interviews. This was meant to portray him as something of a baseball aesthete, which heretofore had been defined as someone who put something larger than a $1 bill into the stripper’s G-string. This particular bluff worked until the night when, while wearing the ballet-school T-shirt, La Russa bum-rushed an elderly reporter from his clubhouse. This is not something Diaghilev would have done — not even to people throwing apples at his head.
But the truly remarkable thing about La Russa is his rather unspectacular record at winning anything that counts. Eugene McCarthy once said of Walter Mondale that the latter “had the soul of a vice-president.” Tony La Russa has the soul of a semifinalist.
For more LaRussa-related ugliness, check out this Deadspin post featuring Buzz Bissinger.
Thanks to Baseball Think Factory for the links.