While managing the Cardinals last season, La Russa was in no position to discuss the detailed merits of various incidents that were widely construed to be retaliation on the part of the St. Louis pitching staff. Now that he’s beyond repercussions from the commissioner’s office, however, state secrets may be beginning to spill.
It started Friday, when La Russa opened up a bit about a game last year in which Cardinals reliever Jason Motte drilled Ryan Braun, an inning after the Brewers had—unintentionally, by all indications—hit Albert Pujols. Looking back, the ex-manager said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that it had been his “responsibility” to respond.
It shouldn’t be all that surprising, really. Even at the time of the incident, La Russa pressed the boundaries of what he could get away with, saying, “We threw two balls in there real good just to send a message. If he ducks them, it’s all over and we don’t hit him.” If anybody in baseball has a deeper love of eye-for-an-eye on-field justice, he has yet to be found.
Heck, an entire book—Buzz Bissinger’s Three Nights in August—is devoted to intricate detail about La Russa’s inner machinations as he pondered whether or not response was merited in various situations. To believe the book, the guy likes to ponder. A lot.
La Russa has yet to go into too much detail about anything untoward, and his consideration for a VP post within Major League Baseball could well change everything, but at the very least, Friday gave us an inkling about what it could be like should the reigning master of retaliation ever decide to truly speak freely on the topic.
We can only hope.