2,365 times Tony LaRussa has lost as a Major League manager, but only in the last couple of seasons does it seem like there is someone to blame other than himself or his team. In Game Five of the World Series on Monday night, LaRussa called the bullpen twice. Twice he, supposedly, asked to get Jason Motte up and warmed up. Derek Lilliquist, the Cardinals bullpen coach, got Marc Rzepczynski up the first call and Lance Lynn up the second time. No Motte. The visitor team can’t see the visiting bullpen from the dugout at the Ballpark at Arlington, but there isn’t much of an excuse here.
LaRussa’s gaffe was that he didn’t make sure that the right man was up. Whether the stadium was louder than any stadium in history or the Cards couldn’t see who was up, it is his responsibility to make sure that things are aligned. If having a telephone as the only line of communication doesn’t work and the Rangers don’t have cameras, maybe it would have been in the best interests of the Cardinals or the League to step things up prior to the series. No one did. Deal with it.
Who knows if the bullpen phone was an excuse, though. LaRussa has long been the manipulator of the bullpen and maybe he was throwing someone else under the bus for Rzepczynski’s inabiltiy to get Napoli out. Rzepczynski is much better against left-handed hitters, but it’s not like anyone else has had much luck getting Napoli out this season, the man hit .383 after the break! You can’t say that even if Motte or Lynn were on the mound at that point, they would have been able to get anything done. It probably would have been Napoli-ever-after anyway.
Just add it to the list of excuses. As a first-year teacher, I have heard quite a few interesting excuses already, but LaRussa and the Cardinals inability to adapt and accept what is thrown at them is assanine. Since they lost home-field advantage when they lost Game Two at home, are they going to say that the 2-3-2 alignment isn’t fair when they lose Game Six? Blame the League for not having enough off days if Kyle Lohse is their Game Seven starter? The balls aren’t rubbed enough, the lights got in the way, the fireworks made the field too smokey, and you still need to shut your mouth and play the next game. Against the wall, the Cardinals need to find themselves and get over it.