The Chess Master: Tony LaRussa Ain’t No Bobby Fisher

In a gunny sack

ST LOUIS, MO – Last week I talked about all the different ways in which I needed the city of St. Louis to go down in flames.  The most important of those came to pass: the Rams walked into Green Bay and promptly got shellacked, thereby keeping me alive in my King of the Hill pool and preserving my dream of winning big bucks and moving down to Mexico to become a washed up old alci who smokes too much, wears dark shades indoors, and plays the piano for tips in a seedy bar.

Oh wait, that was Warren Oates in Sam Peckinpagh’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Sorry, I was switching back and forth between Game 1 of the Series and Peckinpagh’s brutal master piece, which was the 8 o’clock movie on ThisTV (those of you without cable know what I’m talking about). I had to.

You see, the other way in which I wanted St. Louis to fail didn’t materialize when the Cardinals bested the Brewers in six games and, man, I really don’t want Tony Larussa to win another ring. It’s not because he’s a certifiable nut job who made an all star appearance at Glenn Beck’s rally in Washington last year, though that didn’t help. Rather, it’s because I not only find him to be very unlikeable, but I think he’s overrated. The current blather about him being the “Chess Master” is simply infuriating. I still think he botched it with those amazing Oakland A’s teams he had in the early 1990s, somehow managing to lose 2 out of 3 World Series to grossly inferior teams (Cincinnati and Los Angles), and along the way giving us that insufferable goddamn Kirk Gibson highlight (has there ever been a more hyped home run?)

On top of everything else, lifeless drone Joe Buck was finally showing a hint of emotion; his dad Jack called Carndinals games for many years, Joe grew up in St. Louis, and got his first nepotistic breaks there.  He’s a total homer and it shows. So is dottering old man Tim McCarver, having played there and, as he’ll never let anyone forget, catching Bob Gibson for many years.

It was just too much to bear. I needed tequila and slow motion gun play to make it half-palatable.

But in Game 2, things might have taken a turn for the better. I actually sat out a few hands at my weekly poker game to devote full attention to the unbelievable end of the game.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead with two on and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th, the “Chess Master” did the unthinkable. He yanked his closer, flamethrower Jason Motte. The same Jason Motte who’d given up exactly one hit the entire post-season prior to this outing. With Josh Hamilton coming up, LaRussa walked to the mound.

At first I thought he was just destroying Motte’s rhythm with a lecture about how to pitch around the former MVP with 1st base open. But no. He actually removed him from the game.

And brought in Arthur Rhodes.

Not only is Rhodes older than dirt (though younger than me), but he was never that good to begin with. A perpetual disappointment, he has lost several closer jobs during his 20 year career. Now he’s a purely situational left handed pitcher. But here’s a real news flash for you.

Overrated little weirdo.

That “situation” should never be the bottom of the 9th in a World Series game when you’re trying to hold a one-run lead with two men in scoring position.

Rhodes gave up a deep sac fly to Hamilton. Game tied.

LRussa then made another brilliant tactical move, bringing in some dude with a pony tail. He gave up another sac fly. 2-1 Rangers.

In the bottom of the 9th, Texas closer Neftali Feliz showed some nerves, doing the unpardonable by walking the first batter on five pitches, and missing wildly. But guess what? Rangers manager Ron Washington pardoned him. Decided to dance with who brung him.

Feliz rung up the next two batters, just blew `em the F away. He ended it by inducing Rafael Frucal to deposit a can of corn in right field. Game over.

I can smell it. The Rangers are the better team, they’re playing with tremendous confidence, and they never showed any signs of panic while staring a daunting 2-0 games deficit in the face. Meanwhile, LaRussa pooped his pants and threw the game away for St. Louis.

When this one’s over, I predict, LaRussa will be 2-4 in World Series. His all-time win total, which will surpass John McGraw for second place  next year, easily gets him into Cooperstown. But at least for now we can talk about what an overrated little weirdo he really is.

MTM Hall Of Famer, Cheesy Bruin, tomorrow.


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About The Public Professor 79 Articles
Mattville's George Plimpton, The Public Professor, is indeed a real, honest-to-goodness, legitimate professor at a major Maryland university. But because he doesn't have a cell phone or cable, he's crazy enough to be with us. A member of Angry Ward's Urban Spur Posse, the terrorized Bronx graffiti artist's by correcting their grammar. His loves? The Yankees, Knicks, NY Rangers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also has a real website: (