The afterglow of knowing your team is champion of the baseball world is a pretty damn cool thing. I have been walking around the last few days in a sort of “Happy Flight” daze. I’ve been smiling more. I feel fantastic. But yesterday morning, reality hit me: there won’t be any more baseball for a looooooooong time.
And then the text messages started coming.
Did you hear?
OMG Tony is hangin’ em up.
Are you okay? I just heard about TLR.
When Tony LaRussa took over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, I was just an awkward, acne-plagued high schooler who nerded out on keeping score at baseball games. Now, 16 years later, I’m an awkward, 32 year-old professional who nerds out on keeping score at baseball games.
Not much has changed, yet much has changed.
In the early 90s, the Cardinals weren’t very good. But from the minute the announcement was made that he would be the new St. Louis skipper, I immediately had a new found sense of… hope. It was innate. It was from within. I don’t know why, but I just knew: our team was going to be good.
And we were! From 1996 to the present, there hasn’t been one year where I didn’t think the Cardinals had a legitimate shot at the postseason. Sure, some years were better than others, but with Tony at the helm, I have always had a sort of calm about the team.
That’s not to say he hasn’t made me scratch my head. But I soon learned to stop questioning his umteenth pitching change. His post-game explanation always made sense. Our pitcher is hitting in the eight hole? Of course he is. Bringing in the closer in the 5th inning? Exactly what I would do. In fact, I learned very early on that if I was going to keep score during a TLR managed game, then I was going to have to a) write small b) write small and c) WRITE SMALL.
Still, I am going to miss Tony LaRussa. A lot. Just thinking about someone else being in the dugout with his job gives me the creeps. My happy place is Tony giving the sign to Yadi. Yadi fires down to first. Albert makes the tag on the runner. And right now, in light of TLR’s announcement and the ongoing question of whether or not Albert will be back in St. Louis next year, my happy place suddenly finds itself under baseball siege.
But, like everything else in life, I will just have to deal with that shizz when it comes. In the meantime, I sure hope Tony doesn’t consider becoming an actor. I have been suffering through the Ray Vinson commercials long enough.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m gettin’ misty eyed, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.