Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebration and Uncertainty

Friday night was officially a joyful event.  The St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series title, the third of my lifetime.  We partied hard and celebrated a win by a team that had faltered most of the season.  A team most of us had written off before it went on an incredible run.

As I predicted, we almost immediately got articles about how the Cardinals did not deserve the win.  This one at least talks about the ability to make a "short run" of wins to beat "better teams."  Still, I don't believe you would have ever seen this story if Philadelphia or Texas had gone on to win the World Series even though the reasoning holds no matter who wins.

Not 72 hours later we learn that Tony LaRussa, Super Genius TM, is retiring.  He is 67 years old and has been managing major league baseball teams for 33 years. His first year was 1979 with the Chicago White Sox.  I've had my issues with Tony over the last couple of years but there's no denying his success.  Even my most recent rant becomes almost completely irrelevant with a World Series title.  With LaRussa gone it seems like we could have a lot of coaching staff turn over.  Pitching Coach Dave Duncan, widely admired, has been with LaRussa since the 1983. He missed many weeks on leave this year tending to a sick family member. He has one more year on his contract with the Cardinals but I don't really expect him back.  Additionally, hitting coach Mark McGwire's future has to be called into question.  I randomly hear some good things about his coaching ability but I can't help but think of him as a LaRussa rehabilitation project.

The more pressing concern for the Cardinals and its fans is Albert Pujols.  He officially became a free agent today.  Widely considered the best hitter in baseball today Pujols is sure to demand - and maybe receive - top dollar on the free market.  He and the Cardinals couldn't reach terms before the season started and by mutual agreement did not negotiate during the season.  The Cardinals have until 12:00AM Wednesday to negotiate exclusively with him.  At that point he can talk to any and all teams.  I'm not sure who can afford him at the terms it is assumed he's looking for.  Additionally in the 2010 season Pujols made a comment, and I'm certainly paraphrasing, "I want to play for LaRussa for the rest of my career."  I don't think that means Pujols will be retiring this year but I think it breaks some of the connection between the he and the Cardinals.

So while Cardinals Nation is still basking in the glow of a World Series win we immediately have concerns about our future.



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