CardsClubhouse.com - Minors - History - Stats - Links - Advertising - NewsletterContact us
Home Page
Starstruck/Proteam

The Rob Rains Interview


March 8, 2004

Interview with Rob Rains
Or Three Guys Just Talking Baseball

By Brian Walton




Part One:  The Radio Show

Recently, Ray Mileur and I sat down to talk baseball with author Rob Rains.  Rains has penned a number of books about the Cardinals and their many heroes, including Cardinal Nation, St. Louis Cardinals 100th Anniversary, Whitey's Boys, Jack Buck "That's a Winner" (with Jack Buck & Bob Broeg), The Cardinals Fans - Little Book of Wisdom, Mark McGwire, Home Run Hero and more.  Rains has also written for The Sporting News, Major League Baseball and USA Today Sports Weekly and has been an announcer for KMOX radio.

RM:  Tell us about your new radio show.

RR:  It’s on Sunday Nights at eight through Spring Training and once the season starts, it will be following the games on Sunday afternoon, like we do the Saturday games and the Scoreboard kind of stuff and then, they’ll go directly to us.   The length of the show will be determined by the length of the game.

BW:  So you’ll have one show per week?

RR:  Yes.  “Baseball Sunday” is the name of the show. 

BW:  What’s the format?

RR:  It’s a live talk show.  Dave Phillips, the ex-umpire and I are hosts.  We’ll have a couple of guests per show and take calls and discuss the week in baseball.  Our last show, we had Chris Carpenter on and Dusty Baker.  It depends on the week.  Sometimes we’ll be more Cardinal-related and sometimes we’ll be more national-related.  We’re going to try to be as topical as we can.  I’m sure when we switch to the afternoon shows following games, they’ll be more people calling wanting to talk about the last few specific games or whatever.  But, now we don’t have that.  It’s more generic.

RM:   Has Carpenter convinced you that he is ready?

RR:  He sounds good.  He’s very optimistic about how he feels and how it’s coming along.  I asked him, “Can you tell when you’re out there throwing when you don’t have people hitting, not big league conditions, that you’re doing it?”  And he said, “Yeah”.

RM:  Are you going to spring training this year?

RR:  I teach at Webster University.  Their spring break and my kids’ spring breaks are different weeks this year, so it didn’t logistically work out to be down there.  When I’ve got to be here Tuesdays and Thursdays and with the Sunday games on KNOX, it’s kind of disjointed at this point. 

BW:  What caused you to do this show? 

RR:  I’ve done a show for about the last six years.  I was at KFNS for four years doing a show with Andy Van Slyke and then they made some changes over there, so last year, Dave and I hooked up together and did the show on 1380, which is the Sporting News radio station here in town.  We did a twice a week show over there.  I was on KMOX from 1987 through 1995 in various roles including post game open lines and Sunday morning reports and things like that when I was with Baseball Weekly.  So, I just felt like that was where we needed to be.  We were able to work out a deal where they had a time slot available.

RM:  What do you prefer, radio or writing?

RR:  I like them both.  I like the variety of doing them both.  My background is as a writer, so I am probably more comfortable in that arena.  But I also enjoy the radio stuff, too.  When I left Baseball Weekly, I took a job teaching at Arizona State for a year as a visiting professor.  Then, I went back to St. Louis in 1996 and part of that reason was that I had young boys at the time and I really didn’t want to be gone and miss all their games and stuff.  I always said that once they get out of high school, then I’d go back to doing a real job covering baseball.  The problem with that is that there has to be someone ready to hire you to do that.  That’s not always easy to do.  Yeah, I miss a lot of the day-to-day stuff, but there are also times that I don’t miss the day-to-day stuff.

BW:  How do you keep up with the team?

RR:  I go to most of the home games.  Not all of them.  I try to keep my eyes and ears open to whatever happens.  You know, not really having an outlet to break news anymore;  I probably don’t pay as detailed attention as I would if I was doing a day-to-day kind of a thing.   That’s the bread and butter of the day-to-day operations.  It’s not saying who won the game or any of that, it’s getting the other news that is going on off the field.  That is the goal of every reporter.

RM:  What is the one thing about what you do that would surprise people the most?

RR:  Probably, most people would be surprised as to how much work is involved.  How they think that you just go to the games and just watch the games and stuff.  If you’re covering for a daily newspaper, they don’t realize that you may have 20 minutes to write a 20 inch story.  The hours that you put in before the game; the conditions that you have to work under at times, travel and time that get in the way of stuff.  You hardly ever have a day off.

RM:  There never really is an off-season, is there?

RR:  That’s the thing that has changed the most about the game in the last 20 or 30 years. You’d work hard through the World Series, then you’d have a week or so to follow-up, clean up things.   Except for covering the winter meetings, unless something happened like a trade or something, I really didn’t do anything until the first of February.  I had two or two-and-a-half months off to make up for all the day-to-day stuff that you have to do during the season.  Not to say I was off every day during that time, but enough time.  If they made a trade, a hiring or firing or something like that, you had to react.  But, now, I don’t think the guys have that luxury.  They’re working all the time.





Part Two:  Book Projects

BW:  What’s your current writing project?

RR:  I just finished two books.  One is the book I’ve done with Dave Phillips and it will be out the end of March.  It’s called “Centerfield on Fire”.  It’s kind of his memories and memoirs.  He was the crew chief at the Disco Demolition Night in Chicago in 1979 when centerfield literally was on fire.  So, that will be out in March.  And I just finished a project with Rawlings.  We did a ranking of the top 25 players of all time.  Not heavy analysis stuff; real simplistic.  It’s called “Big Sticks”.

BW:  Are you the author or the editor?

RR:  I am the author.  The only time I really edited stuff was when I worked for Scripps Publishing and we were doing a series of books for young adults, biographies, and I was in charge of that series…

RM:  The second edition of Cardinal Nation came out recently.  Are you going to do that every two years?

RR:  No.  The only reason that came out, the reason it was updated was because so many things happened in 2002 with Kyle dying, Jack dying.  I think that was pretty much the reason why they went in and updated it. As far as I know, there are no plans to update it again. 

BW:  It’s been a pretty good seller, hasn’t it?

RR:  Yeah, I think so.  It was one of those things where I got a flat fee to do it and I don’t get any royalties from it.  It’s not that to say that hurt, because that was the only way they were going to do the book.  It was worth my while.  I always look at a book project in that whatever I am getting up front is kind of my guarantee to do that book.  As long as that’s worth my while to do the book, then I never really expect anything else.  You never know.  Publishing is such a risky business.  There’s no rhyme or reason as to why some books sell well and some don’t.  You’d go crazy trying to figure it out.

BW:  How you decide on a project or do they find you?

RR:  Both ways.  I have two books I am going to work on this year.  The first one is going to be a Cardinal book.  It’s going to be kind of similar to “Whitey’s Boys” except that it is not going to be restricted to one team, one year.  The title is going to be, “Where Have All Our Cardinals Gone?”  It is a “Where are they now?” kind of thing and will cover from the ‘50s to the ‘90s.  Fifty to sixty guys with profiles of different lengths about what has happened to them since they stopped playing. 

BW:  And the second book?

RR:  I am going to do a youth coaching book with a friend of mine, Homer Drew, the  basketball coach at Valparaiso.  This a project we’ve been thinking about for several years.  I think of it as sort of a cross between the One Minute Manager and the Chicken Soup books.  A series of anecdotes, but each one has a point.  We’re going to do that this year, too.  So, that is #2.

RM:  Is there a difference in writing about baseball versus basketball?  It seems to me there is, but maybe it’s my love of baseball.

RR:  I’ve done so much more baseball, but I’m a huge college basketball fan, too.  But, you’re so right about people.  The nuts and bolts of a game are different because of the difference in the sports, but as far as a book project is concerned, you’re still just writing about people. 
 
RM:  How has reporting changed?  Twenty years ago, they wrote about the game.  Now, it’s more about the people.

RR:  One of the classes I taught at Webster was a Sports Reporting class.  That is what we talk about.  About how it’s different and how you can’t just get away with traditional who, what, when, where, why and how to approach it.  There is so much more involved because people already know that.  When they pick up the newspaper the next morning, if they care about the game at all, unless they were locked away somewhere for five hours or something, they already know what happened in the game. They read about it on the internet, or they watched the highlights on the news or watched SportsCenter.  So, you have to give them something different, something fresh that they didn’t get somewhere else.




Part Three: TV, The New Ballpark and Its Impact

BW:  There’s 159 games on TV this season.

RM:  I wonder if that has any impact on ticket sales?

RR:  That includes cable games and St. Louis still has one of the smallest percentages of people getting cable TV of any big city in the country.   So, I don’t think that is going to have a tremendous affect.   People have worried about that for years, as far as, “We’ve put too many games on TV.  Is that going to affect our attendance?”  It might some places, but St. Louis is such a town where the only time that is going to affect you is April, May and September.  If you’re out of the race or when school is still on, people aren’t driving in from Carbondale or Springfield or Decatur or wherever on a school night to go to a game.  They’ll go in the summer when they don’t have to worry about getting up in the morning.  That’s the only time I think having those games on TV is going to affect the crowd.  When I was a kid growing up, people planned their vacation, maybe not their summer vacation, but an outing around coming to Cardinals games.  And that’s never going to change.

BW:  What’s the buzz on the personal seat licenses for the new ballpark?

RR:  I haven’t heard people talking about it yet.  Maybe it’s out of sight, out of mind.  I know they’ve announced it, and publicized it, at least publicly, nobody’s expressed outrage.  I’m sure they have, but I haven’t heard an overwhelming cry one way or another.  Maybe people have just expected it.

BW:  With a privately-financed ballpark, you’d have to think some of the money has to come from the fans.

RR:  They’ve done a pretty good PR campaign talking about how many of all the seats in the stadium are affected by it.

RM:  They did a lot better in the second half of the campaign compared to the first. The first half to me was a nightmare.   I bought off on the new stadium right off the bat, but some of the remarks made in the press were just stupid.  Don’t threaten me with the All Star Game.  Who cares?  I don’t think they presented it very well at the beginning.  Once I got the information about the baseball partnership stuff, then I was behind it.

RR:  I have no problem with it.  I think it’s going to be a beautiful stadium.  I didn’t think it should be publicly funded.  There were too many issues going on in the city and the state to take all that money and put it into building a stadium with private money, but if they could sell it privately and put their own money into it, more power to them.  I don’t have a problem with that at all.

RM:  Have you talked with Jeff Luhnow and some of the officials coming in?  I think the minor league system is a disaster.

RR:  It’s a weird thing.  All those things go through cycles and they’re just in a down cycle right now.  And part of that is not getting as many draft picks and they’ve lost some draft picks because of signing free agent guys.  They’ve also traded prospects.  You can debate how good of prospects they were, but they were traded.  The current regime favors older players.  Look at the farm system.  They did develop Pujols.  They did develop Drew, at least to the point of him getting to the big leagues.  Same with Ankiel.  So, there are three guys that ought to be your core foundation for a decade.  The fact that two of them bombed out isn’t really the fault of the minor league system. 

BW:  But, don’t you think the strategy of acquiring older, more established players requires more financial resources than a mid-market team can afford?

RR:  Sure, it does.  Look at the pitching situation.  I’ve people are talking about if Morris leaves after this year and if Woody retires, then you’re going to have all these youngsters.  They’re not going to have any money to spend on pitching.  They’ve already spent all their money on position guys, especially if they sign Renteria.  They’re going to have to go with young pitchers.  I mean, that isn’t going to happen.  We’ve seen too many examples where they’ve had young pitchers who bomb out, even if they get a chance at all. 

RM:  DeWitt says they have only two players signed beyond 2006.  Going into the new ballpark, that gives them some room to maneuver.

RR:  Call me a skeptic if you want, but I’m not really buying all that.




Part Four:  The Cardinals’ Strategy

BW:  The strategy this year was to shift spending from position players to pitching.  Yet, when you look at the facts, that didn’t happen.  And next year is going to be worse.

RR:  Especially if they sign Renteria.

BW:  They’ll make that a higher priority than signing Morris, so it’s going to continue.  The only ways out of it are to play the young pitchers or go and buy a bunch of expensive guys they can’t afford.

RR:  Depending on young pitchers alone is not good.  And the other problem I have with it is this.  Look at the teams that have won the last couple of years.  They’ve done it with pitching.  Florida last year, Arizona before that, the Braves when they won.  They won with pitching.  The Cubs.  They’re winning with pitching.  So, I think their strategy is off a little bit. 

BW:  Why is that?

RR:  I know some of the scouts pretty well and I think it’s easier to draft a hitter than a pitcher.  I think you can see a little bit about the skill necessary to be a good hitter at the high school or college level and you can track those and project those into being a major league player.  It’s easier to go that for a hitter than a pitcher in my mind unless the guy throws a 100 MPH fastball or something like that.  Guys like Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, you can project guys like that, but they’re exceptions rather than the rule.  Maybe what they’re doing to revise the scouting department, I’m not sure how it all shakes down; but maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe they’ll be able to identify more prospects and bring them along.

RM:  I don't think they have a clear picture yet.  The first thing you have to do is make an assessment of where you are and then identify where you want to go…

RR:  Some of those pitchers they have in the farm system; although I haven’t seen them, so I can’t give you a first-hand report, but Narveson, Parrott and those guys are supposed to be pretty good prospects.  If they can change their strategy to have people in charge who will be able to work with those young pitchers and bring them along to the big league level, I don’t think there is going to be any question that is what they are going to have to do.   

RM:  Why can’t we talk with more of these minor league free agents, like Ryan and Jacobsen, who develop a few years later than others?  It’s a less-expensive way to bring people up than it is to go out and sign somebody.  They need to look at these six-year minor league free agents, guys who get stuck at the Triple-A level but never get the call because they don’t fit into the scheme.  A guy doesn’t get a chance just because he is 28 years old.

RR:  All you should look for is results.

RM:  I was so excited recently when Danny Cox said that once you cross the white lines, everything should be based on performance, not contracts or draft position or anything else.

RR:  But, it’s never going to change because of the money invested.  If I sign you for a million dollar bonus, and I sign you for a $50,000 bonus, then who am I going to ensure gets the benefit of the doubt?  The guys who’s got my money.

RM:  It’s a miracle that Pujols made it.

RR:  He was in the right place at the right time.

BW:  He was so good they couldn’t afford to send him down.

RR:  If Bonilla hadn’t been injured, Pujols would have started in Triple-A and who knows what would have happened.  And that’s all baseball is.  It’s being in the right place at the right time.  We talked about money from the Cardinals standpoint.  They’re not as bad off as Milwaukee or Minnesota or teams like that.  But, the problem with those.markets and - I would put the Cardinals in that group - they can’t make mistakes.  When you sign a free agent, when you draft a player, you have to be right more times than you’re wrong because with the Yankees or Red Sox or whatever, if they’re wrong, then, “So what?  We’ll go and get another guy.”  Unless you have unlimited resources, you can’t do that. 

BW:  Tino is the benchmark, causing 8-9% of the team budget to be used by someone who isn’t there.

RR:  I have a real problem with the deferred money stuff, too, because I think that you’re just asking for trouble when you start to play with that.

BW:  On the other hand, Pujols’ deal is a little bit of money for a long time, while some of the others are more money more quickly.  I also learned that there is potentially $4M more to be deferred if the last year of Pujols’ contract – the option year – is exercized.

RR:  I can see why a player would do it; take deferred money, and you do have formulas of debt and profit ratio and whatever that you need to stay within.  Still, I see you opening yourself up for a lot of problems later.  You know, what does Walt Jocketty care what they’re paying Pujols in 2029.  He isn’t going to be here. 

BW:  The other option in Pujols’ case is that they can trade him in the out years of the contract.  Then it becomes a negotiating point as to who pays for the deferrals.  And if George Steinbrenner wants him in 2010, he’ll likely gladly pay the price.  I think they did a great job with Pujols’ contract, given the situation they put themselves in.  They built a contract that is a flexible as possible for the team.

RR:  I think it’s probably a good deal for them.

BW:  The mistake they made was not locking him up before. 

RM:  Like I say in the military, I don’t give out medals to people for putting out fires that they start.

RR:  It’s so tough though in baseball.  If they had tried to do that last year, then some people would have looked at them and said, “What in the world are you trying to do to our industry from a financial standpoint?  These guys have only played for a year or two in the big leagues and you’re giving them $50M or whatever.” 

BW:  Or wait until later, and give him $100M…

RR:  You’re almost always better off paying a guy earlier, rather than late.  The track record is that if you wait, it’s going to cost you more money to sign the player. 





Part Five:  Time to Deliver

BW:  You can argue that the Cardinals have three of the top players in baseball.  The challenge now is that they have to figure out a way to deliver.  

RR:  There’s got to be more balance.  That’s the thing to me.  Whether it’s stars and not stars or fielding versus pitching, I just think the whole thing is out of whack.   There’s no balance.

RM:  If you take the Milwaukee Brewers out of the equation, the Cardinals were a sub-.500 team against everybody else last season…

RR:  Something that is important, but a lot of people forget is that they only look at the division race.  They don’t look at the league race as a whole.  I think they were about 8th or 9th in the league last season – right around the middle.  That’s not good enough.  Being third in the division; that means nothing. 

RM:  If your benchmark is the Central Division only, then the team gets complacent and there isn’t the urgency to improve, to continue the work ethic and determination.
 
RR:  That’s like other people always say, “You made the playoffs.”  So, what?  To me, that’s not the point.  It’s to get to the World Series and then we’ll talk. 

BW:  What is the objective of the team – to make the playoffs or to win the World Series?

RR:  It depends on who you talk to.  The objective ought to be to make the World Series.  I think the objective should be to get there and then you take your chances.  It’s kind of like the Super Bowl.  I don’t see how your objective can be to win the Super Bowl.  I think you have to have your objective to be to get to the Super Bowl.  Then, take your chances and see what happens. I don’t know how many people have that objective.  A lot of them are satisfied with just being the Wild Card.

RM:  It’s all about setting the proper goal.  If you set it that low, that is what you will be more likely to achieve.

RR:  When you have an $80 or $85M payroll and finish third, well you can do that with a $50M payroll.  At $50M, maybe they can stretch for the Wild Card and break even or even make a little money doing that.  But, when you set the standard higher by how much money you’re paying these guys.  They’re not paying Albert Pujols $100M to finish third.   That won’t work.

BW:  So, what is the fundamental problem?  Is it imbalance, underachievement or what?

RR:  I wish I knew.  I am not the general manager, as much as I’d like to be.  (laughs) 


Part Six:  Tony La Russa

RM:  La Russa said last year’s team overachieved.  Maybe I am old fashioned, but I would have fired him that day just for making that statement.

RR:  I am not a La Russa guy and I’ll say that publicly. I know he knows baseball; I know he understands the game and that kind of thing, but I just don’t think he is a good motivating manager.  Players will tell you one thing because they care about their jobs and playing time.  But, privately they can’t like playing for the guy.  He’s not a good communicator.  He’s got his group of people that he surrounds himself with and doesn’t ever break out of that cocoon. 

RM:  I wouldn’t mind playing for him, but he wouldn’t have to manage me.  I’d take care of myself.  Guys like Rolen and Edmonds, you don’t really have to manage them. 

RR:  That’s why he likes older players.  He doesn’t have to manage them.

RM:  Last season when Simontacchi was sent to the bullpen and three weeks later, La Russa was asked how Simontacchi felt about the move and he said he didn’t know!  How could you not know?  I would have had a coach sitting next to him every day telling him this is the new role, this is what we need from you, every day to make sure and to explain to him what was expected.

RR:  Did you ever hear the Jason Christiansen story when he was with the Cardinals a couple of years ago before he got traded to San Francisco?  Duncan never knew his first name.  The whole time he was on the team, Duncan called him Roger or something other than his real name.  He didn’t know his first name was Jason!  I love Whitey to death and I’ve known him forever, so every time I say this, people say that is why I don’t like La Russa because I am such good friends with Whitey, but what Whitey did was make it a point to talk with everybody on that team every day.  He knew their wives names.  He knew their kids’ names.  He knew which players he had to kick in the butt to get going and he knew which players he needed to pat on the back.  I don’t see that out of this guy.    It’s too much of a lawyer mentality if you want to call it that.  He views it as, “I’m doing my job.  You go do your job.  And if I have a reason to talk to you, I will.”  He doesn’t go fishing with guys at five in the morning like Whitey did.

BW:  He’s a survivor.  He’s won over 2000 games, which is a tremendous accomplishment and a measure of longetivity.  However, no one has won so many games and so few World Series.

RR:  He’s also lost 1700.  I am not trying to bury the guy because he knows more about it than I do and you can’t argue with the success that he has had.  But, I do think that he is the type of manager that has to have a particular kind of team to be successful.

RM:  People win championships.  Sometimes, I wish he would just throw that book in the trash.  If you have Gibson on the mound, you’re not going to take him out in the eighth inning to bring in some kid…

RR:  I think there are two things about La Russa. The biggest flaw is his handling of the bullpen.  I just don’t think he’s got it.  Whether that’s Duncan’s fault; I don’t know.  I just think he’s got a real problem figuring out match-ups and how and when to use guys in what roles.  I don’t think he’s every figured that out.  The other thing:  There was a game a couple of years ago which is my classic example of the guy.  You never see him talking on the bench.  Every shot of him in the dugout is of him standing there by himself.  They were playing the Mets, and I don’t remember whether they were winning or not, but the score was something like 12-1 in the seventh inning.  So, whatever he is going to do is not going to affect the outcome of the game.  This game is decided.  And he is standing on the top step of the dugout looking like it’s a one run game in the seventh game of the World Series.    I mean, lighten up.   I am just waiting for him to pop.  I mean, the stress level he must be under.  He can’t relax.  I don’t know what the guy does for fun. 

RM: I wish I could get to know him, maybe I’d become his boy.  When they went to Kansas City last year, I thought it would be great.  Drew would get some rest, play some DH and get ready for the upcoming east coast road trip.  Instead, he plays the first night, then they have him pinch hit and the third day he rests.  So, instead of twelve or 15 at-bats, he gets four.  I was out of my mind wondering why he wasn’t getting a chance to hit.

RR:  And that’s part of the beauty of the Cardinals.  You have so many people who follow the team who probably thought the exact same thing as you did.  They’re such an educated fan base that they are managing the game right along with the guy.    They’re like:  “Why is he doing that?  What is he thinking?”  There are people who agree with him and there are people who disagree with him. 
 
BW:  Think this will be his last season?

RR:  Yes and no.  Yes, if they tell him, “We’re not going to spend any more money.  And we have to bring these young pitchers along.”  I can’t see him doing that.  But, the flip side of me says that I think that he would really like to manage in the new ballpark.  That he’d like one more two year contract to be able to have that first season in the new ballpark.  It might depend on how they do.  If they’re not competitive; they’re hanging around .500 and they never challenge, then I’d say that he will say, “Let’s do something else.”  If they play a little better than that and just miss the playoffs, for example, then I can see him maybe saying, “OK, I will come back.”  So, I don’t know.  I don’t really have a good gut feeling.  I could see it going either way. 

BW:  Thank you for taking the time and interest in the Birdhouse to meet with us.  

RR:  Thank you!





Part Six:  Tony La Russa


RM:  La Russa said last year’s team overachieved.  Maybe I am old fashioned, but I would have fired him that day just for making that statement.

RR:  I am not a La Russa guy and I’ll say that publicly. I know he knows baseball; I know he understands the game and that kind of thing, but I just don’t think he is a good motivating manager.  Players will tell you one thing because they care about their jobs and playing time.  But, privately they can’t like playing for the guy.  He’s not a good communicator.  He’s got his group of people that he surrounds himself with and doesn’t ever break out of that cocoon. 

RM:  I wouldn’t mind playing for him, but he wouldn’t have to manage me.  I’d take care of myself.  Guys like Rolen and Edmonds, you don’t really have to manage them. 

RR:  That’s why he likes older players.  He doesn’t have to manage them.

RM:  Last season when Simontacchi was sent to the bullpen and three weeks later, La Russa was asked how Simontacchi felt about the move and he said he didn’t know!  How could you not know?  I would have had a coach sitting next to him every day telling him this is the new role, this is what we need from you, every day to make sure and to explain to him what was expected.

RR:  Did you ever hear the Jason Christiansen story when he was with the Cardinals a couple of years ago before he got traded to San Francisco?  Duncan never knew his first name.  The whole time he was on the team, Duncan called him Roger or something other than his real name.  He didn’t know his first name was Jason!  I love Whitey to death and I’ve known him forever, so every time I say this, people say that is why I don’t like La Russa because I am such good friends with Whitey, but what Whitey did was make it a point to talk with everybody on that team every day.  He knew their wives names.  He knew their kids’ names.  He knew which players he had to kick in the butt to get going and he knew which players he needed to pat on the back.  I don’t see that out of this guy.    It’s too much of a lawyer mentality if you want to call it that.  He views it as, “I’m doing my job.  You go do your job.  And if I have a reason to talk to you, I will.”  He doesn’t go fishing with guys at five in the morning like Whitey did.

BW:  He’s a survivor.  He’s won over 2000 games, which is a tremendous accomplishment and a measure of longetivity.  However, no one has won so many games and so few World Series.

RR:  He’s also lost 1700.  I am not trying to bury the guy because he knows more about it than I do and you can’t argue with the success that he has had.  But, I do think that he is the type of manager that has to have a particular kind of team to be successful.

RM:  People win championships.  Sometimes, I wish he would just throw that book in the trash.  If you have Gibson on the mound, you’re not going to take him out in the eighth inning to bring in some kid…

RR:  I think there are two things about La Russa. The biggest flaw is his handling of the bullpen.  I just don’t think he’s got it.  Whether that’s Duncan’s fault; I don’t know.  I just think he’s got a real problem figuring out match-ups and how and when to use guys in what roles.  I don’t think he’s every figured that out.  The other thing:  There was a game a couple of years ago which is my classic example of the guy.  You never see him talking on the bench.  Every shot of him in the dugout is of him standing there by himself.  They were playing the Mets, and I don’t remember whether they were winning or not, but the score was something like 12-1 in the seventh inning.  So, whatever he is going to do is not going to affect the outcome of the game.  This game is decided.  And he is standing on the top step of the dugout looking like it’s a one run game in the seventh game of the World Series.    I mean, lighten up.   I am just waiting for him to pop.  I mean, the stress level he must be under.  He can’t relax.  I don’t know what the guy does for fun. 

RM: I wish I could get to know him, maybe I’d become his boy.  When they went to Kansas City last year, I thought it would be great.  Drew would get some rest, play some DH and get ready for the upcoming east coast road trip.  Instead, he plays the first night, then they have him pinch hit and the third day he rests.  So, instead of twelve or 15 at-bats, he gets four.  I was out of my mind wondering why he wasn’t getting a chance to hit.

RR:  And that’s part of the beauty of the Cardinals.  You have so many people who follow the team who probably thought the exact same thing as you did.  They’re such an educated fan base that they are managing the game right along with the guy.    They’re like:  “Why is he doing that?  What is he thinking?”  There are people who agree with him and there are people who disagree with him. 
 
BW:  Think this will be his last season?

RR:  Yes and no.  Yes, if they tell him, “We’re not going to spend any more money.  And we have to bring these young pitchers along.”  I can’t see him doing that.  But, the flip side of me says that I think that he would really like to manage in the new ballpark.  That he’d like one more two year contract to be able to have that first season in the new ballpark.  It might depend on how they do.  If they’re not competitive; they’re hanging around .500 and they never challenge, then I’d say that he will say, “Let’s do something else.”  If they play a little better than that and just miss the playoffs, for example, then I can see him maybe saying, “OK, I will come back.”  So, I don’t know.  I don’t really have a good gut feeling.  I could see it going either way. 

BW:  Thank you for taking the time and interest in the Birdhouse to meet with us.  

RR:  Thank you!









A Special Season: Players Journal  of the 2002 Cardinals
A Special Season: Players Journal of the 2002 Cardinals

Whitey's Boys: A Celebration of the '82 Cards World Championship
Whitey's Boys: A Celebration of the '82 Cards World Championship

Cardinals Fan's Little Book of Wisdom: 101 Truths... Learned the Hard Way
Cardinals Fan's Little Book of Wisdom: 101 Truths... Learned the Hard Way

Mark Mcgwire, Home Run Hero
Mark Mcgwire, Home Run Hero