Along with the much anticipated annual 4th Of July celebrations that included incredible fireworks displays, July 2012 was ushered in with additional, and some unexpected, pyrotechnics. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa lit things up for MLB with his All-Star roster decisions. By deciding not to include two Cincinnati Reds, Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto, TLR was able to get one last jab at his arch-enemy, Dusty Baker, and create yet another controversy.
It’s reasonable that Phillips and Cueto were not the most deserving players to be added to the National League roster. However, TLR had to know that, by not choosing them, a firestorm would erupt. The two players are on a first-place team, and everyone is well aware of the history between the Reds and the La Russa-managed Cardinals, particularly the brawl that occurred two seasons ago.
Nevertheless, TLR was TLR, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig supported and defended Las Russa’s decision. Along with Phillips and Cueto, TLR also left Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers off the roster. The Brewers and the Cardinals also have a heated rivalry, and it appears that TLR isn’t ready to let go of that either.
La Russa’s explanation for Greinke was the same given for Cueto. Both men were scheduled to pitch the Sunday prior to the All-Star game. However, it was learned that the Brewers had changed Greinke’s start to Saturday to accommodate an expected All-Star selection.
In defense of La Russa, it must be noted that he did not select a deserving Cardinal for the All-Star roster. Matt Holliday, who was hitting over .300 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI prior to the selections, was not chosen. There are no indications that TLR has a grudge against Holliday, so this was a legitimate, tough but fair decision. I suppose.
Those of us that have followed the Cardinals during TLR’s career have come to expect odd reasoning and incomprehensible decisions from the future Hall Of Fame manager. The unique situation of TLR being retired yet allowed to return to lead the National League All-Stars due to his incredible 2011 World Series win wasn’t enough of a history-making event for TLR. He had to take it one step further and make sure his legacy would never be forgotten.
This is likely to not be the final All-Star game controversy for TLR. Something will surely happen that will highlight TLR’s quirkiness. Remember the 2007 All-Star game? He didn’t play Albert Pujols that night. That may be hard to top, but I wouldn’t put anything past TLR for 2012. After all, he does have a legacy to uphold.
With being retired and everyone agreeing that TLR is headed to the Hall Of Fame, he has complete autonomy. For the first time since I was fourteen, I’m really looking forward to the All-Star game.