Tony La Russa will miss tonight's game in Chicago while he has more testing done on his eye infection at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's got to kill La Russa to miss any games, and he may miss several if the doctors tell him he needs rest. Joe Pettini will handle the managerial chores tonight against the Cubs.
(KMOV)-- It'll be interesting to see what, if any, changes Pettini will make. I'm sure they'll be minimal. In reality, managing the game strategy at the major league level is not that difficult. A big league skipper earns his money with his ability to handle a roster full of multi-millionaires with big personalities and over sized egos.
That's been La Russa's secret to his longevity. He's a master at protecting his players publicly, while behind the scenes being able to massage the egos of the superstars. La Russa is highly organized and his record earns him instant respect among his players. But actually calling the shots from the dugout during a game? That's the easiest part of the job. Most fans in the stands could make similar decisions during a game about when to bunt, when to steal, or which reliever to bring in late in the game. It's not exactly rocket science.
The most brilliant managers in the history of the game... Whitey Herzog, Earl Weaver, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, whoever.... are only as good as the players on the field. No matter how smart a decision may look the games are always won or lost based on how the players perform, not the manager. If the all-star closer leaves a hanging breaking ball over the plate and it's hit out of the park, you can't blame the skipper for bringing the guy in. And you can't give the manager all the credit if the closer blows away three hitters in a row to finish a game.
It's all about the players, not the managers. Torre is the perfect example of that. He was fired by the Cardinals after some disappointing seasons here as the manager in the early 90's. Torre then went to the Yankees where he suddenly became one of the great managers of all time. It's all about the players. Joe Pettini will do fine as the interim manager for the Cards, assuming he knows not to bring in Ryan Franklin with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.