What’s my impression of Tony LaRussa? To me, he’s a guy that stands on a putting green all day and makes 1-foot putts. Any time you ever walk past, or drive by, or look up–there’s Tony, calmly drilling home a 1-footer. Eventually you think to yourself, “God, that guy’s a great putter. I’ve never seen him miss.” That’s LaRussa’s managerial style in a way. He’s always doing something, and after years of wearing glasses and managing very good teams we’ve gotten to the point where his decisions are always accepted as the correct ones. When the stage gets brighter, LaRussa gets elevated to genius status. The puzzling part for me is that LaRussa is getting an unprecedented amount of praise for heavily using a bullpen that most experts believed to be the Cardinals’ weakness. Something about that doesn’t add up, does it?
I’m not going to sit here and say that Ron Washington should have brushed the packing peanuts off Esteban German last night and sent him up there in a crucial situation, but the press has completely lost their mind with the managerial match-up in this series. LaRussa’s players are the ones making him look like a genius right now, especially that beleaguered bullpen. Can we finally acknowledge that the Cardinals are a pretty good team? This isn’t a group of AAA guys feeding off genius strategy and Mark McGwire’s magic hitting potion. When the Cardinals got any kind of help from their relief pitching they were easily one of the 4 best teams in the league, and now that the bullpen is red-hot they’ve streaked all the way to getting the early jump on the World Series.
I guess the press thinks that LaRussa is the most interesting character of this World Series, and maybe he is in some ways, but there was nothing extraordinary about what he did Wedsnesday night. In part because this is what LaRussa does all the time. Doesn’t genius imply some type of creativity? LaRussa has his plans, his match-ups and he sticks to them. I’m not saying LaRussa doesn’t know how to manage a game, because he clearly does, but we’ve got to take it easy with his deification.
Topic Change. The entire Flyers season is riding on a game against the Capitals down at the WF Center tonight. Ok, that’s a massive amount of hyperbole, but the Caps are 5-0, the Flyers are 4-0-1, both teams score a bunch of goals and there’s a chance it could be the best game of the young NHL season. The great thing about the Flyers right now is that they feel fresh. We’ll ignore the Sixers (they’re still locked out?), but the other two teams feel almost too familiar. Fans are starting to snap with bitterness at some Phillies’ veterans, and of course the Eagles front office and coaching staff is the most stale story in all of sports. In contrast to that sit the Flyers, where it’s all new, new, new.
I saw this at Crossing Broad the other day, in the game against Ottawa the Flyers had seven different players score goals. Their ages: 24, 23, 23, 27, 22, 18 and 24. That’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it? And, that doesn’t even include Brayden Schenn who will make his Flyers debut against Washington. The Flyers are so young, and so loaded with potential that you can’t help but be excited. And, the youth and turnover has also lowered expectations to the point where we can enjoy a 7-2 drubbing of a terrible team. If the Phillies beat Mike Pelfrey 20-1, it’s, “who cares, it’s the Mets, are they gonna hit in October?” And, while that’s an understandable position, it’s nice to be easily impressed once in a while as well.
The Flyers have certainly impressed so far, and it’s looking like a great mix of youth and veterans. Jaromir Jagr is getting rave reviews, having Bryz in net feels like the day we finally got rid of Donovan McNabb, and it’s now safe to say you wanted Pronger to be captain from the start. Anyway, really looking forward to the game tonight, it should be a lot more interesting than LaRussa’s master class on the pitching change.
Major topic change one last time. I’m watching this series Homeland on Showtime. Watching online, because I don’t have Showtime, and it’s got me hooked. And, it’s not just because of the nudity. The show is about a Marine who was held captive for eight years until he is finally rescued and returned to the States. A great story, except a CIA agent (hey look, it’s Clare Danes) believes he was turned while being held prisoner and is now aiding in a terrorist plot against the United States. There have only been 3 episodes, so I don’t have that much to say about it, other than if you have Showtime you should turn it on, and if you don’t, you should peruse the not so dark corners of the internet and check it out. It’s better than Whitney.