There is no “V” in Tony La Russa, but there is certainly a vendetta.
La Russa, the now-retired manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, is coaching the National League All-Star team this year. La Russa earned the honor for making it to the World Series last year.
Which is well and good, but it seems the former Cardinals skipper is using his position to hurt two Cincinnati Reds — Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto — for their role in a brawl between the two teams a few years ago.
Phillips started the feud with his comments about the Cardinals through the press. During the fight, Cueto injured Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue by kicking him in the head. Cueto was suspended and villified, but no word was made for LaRue, who along with several Cardinals, was trying to push Cueto through the backstop.
Why this is something to worry about two years later is a bigger question. The two teams don’t like each other. Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker had his own vendetta earlier this season against Cleveland Indians pitcher Derek Lowe.
Are vendettas good for baseball? Maybe, because fighting, rivalries and heated words in the press make for good ratings, get the fans involved and turn up the interest.
But in a sense they’re pointless. Lowe is in another league, 39 years old, and playing out his days. Why hold a grudge?
La Russa may be trying to hurt Phillips, but he’s hurting the whole league. Phillips is by far the best defensive infielder in the game. Leaving him off might cost the National League homefield advantage. He’s also a highlight reel. A chance to market him at the All-Star game to a dwindling African-American audience should be embraced.
La Russa accomplished nothing, except give a couple baseball cities a little to talk about.
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