That was the year Ken Harrelson assumed the role of general manager. Let’s just say it was a bad marriage. It resulted with La Russa being fired in June of that year.
Given what La Russa went on to accomplish in Oakland and St. Louis, there’s little question why Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf called it the one decision he regrets the most.
I had a good relationship with La Russa during that season with the Sox and several years thereafter when he was in Oakland. I always found him to be fair, interesting and accomodating. I do recall I have never seen a coach or manager suffer more after a defeat.
Yet through the years, I have heard some writers complain about dealing with La Russa. It appears the feeling was mutual.
In his new book, Tony La Russa: One Last Strike, has a couple of interesting passages about his relationship with the media. Co-written with Rick Hummel, the Hall of Fame baseball writer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he says the media element of his job wore him down. It was a factor in his decision to retire after winning the title in 2011.
Here’s La Russa:
The media evolved over the years to the point where second-guessing and a lot else besides recapping the games took over. I want to make it clear that I understand that media people have to make a living and that, like me and our players, they have to survive in a highly competitive environment. Still, just because I understand all that doesn’t mean that I enjoyed it. It was more like I tolerated it as part of the dues you pay to stay in the game.
One consequence of media proliferation was it seemed as if some members of the media were trying so hard to make a name for themselves that they began to compete with the very players they were interviewing for the attention of the public. Toward the end of my career, these competitive individuals were becoming more the rule than the exception, and as in most competitions, hostilities were a natural result. Being stuck in the middle between the players and the media when this occurred was a taxing and irritating part of my job.
Having to manage the media, though not my full-time job, took up a considerable amount of time and energy and also took some of the enjoyment out of managing.
(Later he wrote)
Now, I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, because looking back at the span of my career, I have known plenty of appreciative and respectful players, as well as media members who were responsible and loved the game. Call it the squeaky wheel syndrome, the bad apple or whatever; but human nature being what it is, you tend to remember the really good and the really bad, and the big middle becomes kind of blank….
When I added in all the rest–the media nonsense especially–I thought that if I wasn’t getting the same enjoyment even under the best of circumstances with this team, then it really was time to get out at the end of the year.
“Media nonsense”? Yeah, don’t think La Russa misses dealing with the media.