Tony La Russa is a man with 17 cats

tony-la-russaFormer St. Louis Cardinals manager is a known animal lover. He started an animal rescue foundation in the early 1990s after a stray cat wandered up to him in the dugout when he was managing the Oakland A’s. When he learned that the cat would be euthanized at a local shelter if no one could adopt it, he made it his goal to begin rescuing animals. So how much does the 68-year-old love cats?

In a story about La Russa’s love for animals in the Wall Street Journal, Scott Pollack revealed that the three-time World Series champion currently has 17 cats. No, that’s not a typo.

La Russa said there were 17 cats at the moment at his home in the Bay Area, all of them rescued. Now let’s be clear: Only a handful were permanent members of the La Russa clan. The rest were foster cats, ones the La Russas were caring for temporarily until they could be placed in homes. Still, La Russa could name them, even the newcomers. It took a couple of minutes, a few pauses, but he ticked them off, one by one, as if running down a lineup card.

‘Skye, Pearl, Slash — named after a rock ‘n’ roll guitarist—Sophia, Maggie, Jack — my daughter found him in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box—Stella, Sierra, Kachina, Lakota, Fergus, Dexter — he’s very precocious — Misha, Cammie, Eddie, Patchy, Pawnee.’

Yes: That is all 17. Yes: It sounded as amazing as it reads.”

Wow. I’m more of a dog guy myself, but I couldn’t imagine having 17 of any animal. I think I’d have trouble taking care of 17 gold fish, let alone 17 mammals who are capable of making noise and going to the bathroom in the house. You may have known La Russa loved animals, but did you know the extent of his passion? Now you do.

Related: Tony La Russa was offered a job as an elephant keeper

H/T For the Win

Tony La Russa: Albert Pujols Has Been ‘In Pain’ Since Signing with Angels

Breathe, Angels fans: not physical pain. They say money isn’t everything. Surely there are plenty of unhappy billionaires in the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel sorry for them. Albert Pujols just inked a contract that guarantees him $245 million over the next ten years of his life. Most of us would cut off a finger for that type of financial security, but his former coach says Pujols is not completely satisfied with his life.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Pujols has been “in pain” since he decided to sign with the Angels.

“I know it was a painful decision and it pains him now,” La Russa said. “He deserves what he got. He earned it. There’s no bad guy here. I think the Cardinals went where they thought they should go. If they can’t go farther, they shouldn’t. I believe in Albert’s case he was disappointed there wasn’t more enthusiasm from the Cardinals. The (Miami) Marlins came at him hard and then here comes Anaheim. I think that the Cardinals were being careful.”

If the things Deidre Pujols said earlier in the week are true, it is plausible that Pujols could be hurt by the lack of aggression the Cardinals showed in trying to retain him. That being said, the guy just made a quarter of a billion dollars.  La Russa obviously has a great relationship with both Pujols and the Cardinals organization, so he has no choice but to tread lightly.  Pain or no pain, Pujols shouldn’t expect any sympathy from the people who have turned his jersey into a money symbol.

Fist pound to Hardball Talk for passing the story along.

Tony La Russa Got Job Offer to be Elephant Keeper

Tony La Russa is a well known animal lover, so it’s no surprise to hear about the first job offer he’s received since retiring as a manager. Appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday night, the former manager made a funny.

“I actually got a job offer [Monday]. I swear. There’s a group called Performing Animal Welfare Society just outside of Sacramento,” La Russa said, “and they offered me a job as an elephant keeper.”

PAWS just announced that they’re receiving three elephants from Toronto, so maybe Tony will be responsible for taking care of them. If he does take the gig, it should be perfect for him; he’s already used to dealing with large figures and putting up with a lot of crap.

La Russa just can’t resist talking about animals, can he?

Tony La Russa Announces Retirement After Winning World Series but Will he be Back?

Whether it was John Elway or Jerome Bettis walking away from the game after winning the Super Bowl, not much compares to seeing a sports figure leave the game on top. Tony La Russa may not be a player, but seeing him leave after managing for 33 years following his third World Series title is pretty cool.

La Russa says he began thinking about retiring midway through the summer. He says the team’s wild card and World Series run were coincidental. He also said he won’t be back, but he wouldn’t rule out another job in baseball.

La Russa is 67 years old and seems to be pretty sharp, so this was unexpected. The man seems perfectly capable of continuing to manage in the bigs.

Because he just won a World Series and retired unexpectedly, his name will be popular when openings are mentioned. Will he resist all overtures? He’ll probably have a lot of opportunities to turn down, so that won’t be easy. Maybe he will stay true to his retirement plans. If he does, he’ll leave the game having won three World Series, six pennants, and four Manager of the Year awards. He’s third all time in career wins as a manager.

And now he doesn’t have to worry about bullpen phones not operating properly.

Dave Duncan Told Tony La Russa to Start Chris Carpenter Game 7, No Alternatives

Chris Carpenter pitched on short rest to win Game 7 of the World Series Friday and give the Cardinals their 11th title in franchise history. It was an impressive start for Carp who gave up two runs in the first inning and shut out the Rangers for the next five innings in St. Louis’ 6-2 win. He and the bullpen combined to allow no runs and three hits the final eight innings of the deciding game.

Carpenter’s performance was impressive for several reasons: it was his third start of the series; he was pitching on short rest; and he wasn’t deterred by a poor start. The Cardinals could have gone to Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson for Game 7 — both of whom were on full rest — but they gave the ball to their ace.

After winning the World Series, manager Tony La Russa said pitching coach Dave Duncan made the decision to start Carpenter an easy one.

“I called [Duncan] in the morning,” La Russa said, “and I said ‘how about the alternatives?'”

“He says ‘are you kidding? It’s Chris Carpenter,’ and he hung up.”

That’s fantastic. It really is an easy decision, and I’m glad the Cardinals didn’t mess around. Carpenter went 4-0 in the postseason and St. Louis won five of his six October starts. After he had beaten Roy Halladay 1-0 in Game 5 of the NLDS, the decision was easy. What a clutch performance by Carpenter. Dude was nails.

Tony La Russa Planned to Watch Moneyball with World Series Game 6 Postponed

With Game 6 of the World Series postponed until Thursday night, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he was going to hit the movie theater to watch Moneyball.

Moneyball has been viewed controversially since the book was released in 2003. It helped change baseball and it shaped the way front offices conducted business. Many people viewed it as progressive, but others felt differently. La Russa is one of those people. The Cardinals manager disagrees with the importance of on-base percentage, which was championed in the book.

“On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it’s all about getting on base by drawing walks,” La Russa said to the media Wednesday.

“The fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the zone. So if a pitcher knows that, he works on the edges. So the question is do they get a good pitch to hit?”

Sounds like the words of a grumpy man, but hey, how many World Series rings does he have and how many do I have?

Rangers manager Ron Washington, who was a coach in Oakland while Moneyball went on, enjoyed the movie. But he recognizes that it was meant to entertain, and that it had its shortcomings.

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Tony La Russa: Game 5 Pitching Mishaps Were Result of Bullpen Miscommunications

Those of you who watched Game 5 of the World Series Monday night were likely left scratching your heads like the rest of us.  With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, Michael Young led off for the Rangers and ripped a double off Octavio Dotel.  The hit prompted Tony La Russa to get on the phone with the bullpen immediately, but what transpired from that point on was bizarre to say the least.

After the phone call, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski began warming up in the bullpen.  According to La Russa, he had asked for right-hander Jason Motte to begin warming at the same time but bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist apparently could not hear the request over the roar of the crowd.  When La Russa realized Motte was not throwing alongside Rzepczynski, he called Lilliquist again to get Motte up.  Once again, Lilliquist allegedly did not hear him correctly and instead thought La Russa asked for right-hander Lance Lynn to begin throwing.

“It’s just like any other park,” Lilliquist explained according to an MLB.com article. “You get a bunch of people and it’s loud and he wanted Motte going easy to back [Rzepczynski] up, and I thought I heard Lynn.”

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