Tony La Russa Sets Record for Most Pitching Changes in Playoffs

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made history Monday for an unusual accomplishment, and no, it wasn’t for making the highest amount of mistakes involving Allen Craig caught stealing. By bringing in four relievers during Game 5 of the World Series, La Russa broke the record for most pitching changes in a single postseason. He has now made 65 pitching changes during the playoffs.

The previous high mark was 62 pitching changes made by the Giants in the 2002 playoffs (they played 16 games). Prior to Game 5 (through 15 playoff games), La Russa had matched the ’97 Indians who made 61 changes in 18 games. With his four changes in Game 5 — including bringing in Lance Lynn solely to issue an intentional walk — La Russa blew right past the previous high mark.

So how did we get to this point? You can really point to La Russa’s odd managing in the NLCS.

Chris Carpenter was the only Cardinals pitcher who lasted long enough to get a win against the Brewers, and it was when he went five innings in Game 3. Out of the six games against Milwaukee, four pitchers were pulled in the 5th inning. Game 6 starter Edwin Jackson was relieved after two innings in the series-clinching victory.

La Russa looked like a genius for most of the playoffs because nearly all of his decisions went well. Now that he’s made a few mistakes — such as having Mark Rzepczynski pitch to Mike Napoli in the 8th Monday — he doesn’t look as smart. It’s amazing how much perception is influenced by outcome, rather than by how sound the decision was.

Tony La Russa Talks About Rally Squirrel Dating Allen Craig’s Tortoise

While the Milwaukee Brewers have their “Beast Mode” Monsters, Inc. celebration, the St. Louis Cardinals have an unofficial mascot/playoff theme of their own. Throughout the year, the Cardinals would tease Allen Craig by saying “Do it for Torty,” whenever the outfielder was up in a key situation. Torty was a reference to Craig revealing in an interview that he had a pet tortoise. When the teammates would say “Do it for Torty,” he always delivered, so the saying caught on.

Then in the NLDS, a squirrel ran onto the field at Busch Stadium in St. Louis during Game 3 and Game 4 of the playoffs. In Game 4, the squirrel likely cost the Phillies a strike. After winning the game, the Cardinals adopted the squirrel as a playoff mascot, calling it the “Rally Squirrel.”

The squirrel seemed to bring the Cardinals good luck in the NLDS, so manager Tony La Russa was asked if they would keep running with the Rally Squirrel in the NLCS. La Russa got a little carried away in animal land with his response.

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Tony La Russa Shakes the Maracas for Carlos Santana (Picture)

When the name Tony La Russa comes to mind, you probably don’t envision some kind of party animal. When I think about the Cardinals manager, I think about an uptight baseball personality who has enjoyed plenty of success during his time in St. Louis.  He rarely cracks jokes and he’s not the easiest interview, but for the most part he has done his job well.

On the flip side, there is the Tony La Russa who was absolutely hammered when he got busted for a DUI back in 2007.  There’s also the La Russa who produced a hot daughter that is now an Oakland Raiders cheerleader.  And finally, there’s the Tony who shakes the maracas on stage for Carlos Santana. Check out this picture, courtesy of Big League Stew:

Tony’s alter ego just getting it done.  Does he look happy to be up there or what?  Santana should offer him a full-time position in the band when he retires from baseball.

Tony La Russa Accuses Brewers of Tinkering With Lights to Gain Advantage

After their 6-2 loss to the Brewers Monday night, the Cardinals were full of excuses.  For starters, pitcher Chris Carpenter accused the Milwaukee base runners of relaying signs to the hitters during their five-run fifth inning.  The Brewers could never score five runs in an inning off Carpenter, so they had to have been cheating somehow.  That sparked some bad blood that carried into the next day when Albert Pujols was hit on the forearm by a Takashi Saito pitch.  St. Louis hurler Jason Motte returned the favor to Ryan Braun in the bottom of the frame, prompting the umpire to warn both teams Tuesday night.

Believe it or not, none of that was the most entertaining news from the series.  The biggest howl came from Tony La Russa, who filed an official complaint after Monday’s game accusing the Brewers of tinkering with the Miller Park scoreboard lighting to distract the Cardinals hitters.  According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Big League Stew, La Russa believes the Brewers were dimming the ribbon board that surrounds the home plate loge level to make it darker when the Cardinals were batting.  Major League Baseball later said that while they pay attention to such complaints they do not believe there was an issue.

Considering La Russa is a guy with a history of condoning cheating, his accusation is a serious stretch.  The Miller Park crew has been known to pull some funny stunts in the past, but dimming the lights to distract opponents would be quite an elaborate scheme to gain the upper hand.  It may come as a surprise, but it is possible for the Brewers to be ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central without cheating.

Tony La Russa: Colby Rasmus Does Not Listen to Cardinals’ Coaches

It’s no secret the relationship between Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and outfielder Colby Rasmus is strained. Rasmus is only 24 years old yet he has plenty of Major League experience. The third year pro is loaded with potential but he’s struggled this season, batting just .246. La Russa has been hesitant to let Rasmus play every day the past two years, electing to platoon him or play other outfielders instead. That has led to Rasmus becoming frustrated, which has led to trade rumors. While St. Louis has kept Rasmus on the roster, the issues between him and La Russa are evident.

In an interview with KSDK, La Russa complained that Rasmus doesn’t listen to the Cardinals coaches and that is one of his problems:

This has long been a complaint for La Russa. He’s felt that Rasmus gets coaching from his father and tunes out the St. Louis staff. The discord between the two is the main reason people feel like Rasmus will be traded. It’s hard to say a trade wouldn’t benefit both parties; La Russa would be rid of his problem and Rasmus would have a fresh start elsewhere.

Very few people would want to see Rasmus set free more than LBS contributor Alan Hull. He’s been dying for the day that Rasmus can do his thing without worrying about La Russa yanking him around.

Tony La Russa Taking Day Off to Have Infected Eye Examined

The only Tony La Russa news we’ve focused on lately was his daughter becoming a Raiders cheerleader. The other La Russa story getting attention, aside from his team’s incredible offense lately, is his eye that was infected by conjunctivitis aka pink eye. The picture above shows how Tony’s eye looked back in late April (around the 20th), and it apparently is still bothering him. As the aptly-named Eye on Baseball notes, La Russa will be taking the team’s day off Monday to get the eye checked out at the Mayo Clinic. Even as badly infected as the eye has been, you can’t really blame him for not getting it checked out. After all, what’s more important: having your vision, or not deserting your team in May? The way Chris Carpenter’s been pitching, the former isn’t so bad.

Picture Credit: Post-Dispatch

Bianca Tai La Russa Is an Oakland Raiders Cheerleader (and Tony’s Daughter)

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa shouldn’t have to worry about Adam Wainwright’s injury, because the true ace of his staff is in his family. Tony’s daughter, Bianca La Russa, is a dancer who just made the Oakland Raiders cheerleading team.

Bianca, who goes by “Bianca Tai” on twitter, announced the news last week. “A goal and a dream come true- I’m a 2011 Raiderette! I’m so excited to rep an organization that does so much good.”

Clearly she hasn’t been keeping up with the NFL as much as she has the Cardinals if she says the Raiders do so much good, but that’s besides the point. The point is that Tony La Russa has a daughter who is a Raiderette, as we first learned from Lob Shots and The Big Lead.

Here are some more pictures of Bianca La Russa who seems to have been a hardcore Raiders fan for quite some time.

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