By Steve Silverman
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It’s no surprise.
When Tony LaRussa is in charge of the All-Star team, he’s not going to put some Johnny-Come-Lately from the New York Mets on the mound to start the game.
Mets’ fans had a feeling of gloom when they realized that the retired LaRussa would be given the honor of managing the National League. LaRussa has an agenda when he manages the National League. He has a grudge against certain teams.
Dusty Baker knows that LaRussa has held a grudge against him for years. He was able to give Baker one last smack by not selecting pitcher Johnny Cueto of the Reds for the All-Star team.
But by bypassing R.A. Dickey of the Mets as the starter, he is hurting a deserving pitcher and baseball fans who have the right to see the best pitcher in the National League start the game. Nothing against Matt Cain of the Giants who is having a solid year, but Dickey has been brilliant and consistent for the Mets.
He throws a pitch in the power knuckleball that has rarely been seen at the major league level. LaRussa may think that Dickey’s knuckleball is too difficult for Buster Posey to catch, but he’s the all-star catcher and is certainly capable of doing a professional job.
But LaRussa has old-school prejudices against the pitch. By maintaining that position, he is pouring cold water on one of the best human comeback situations the game of baseball has ever seen.
Dickey was nearing the end of the line in baseball when he learned the pitch. His life was all but out of control and things were so hopeless for Dickey that he actually considered the most horrible alternative.
But Dickey did not choose to end his life. He chose to keep working and keep learning. He learned a new pitch and while he has not perfected it, he’s throwing it at a level that few pitchers have ever reached in baseball history.
It’s not perfected because Dickey is still working on it. In addition to dominating the National League, Dickey is still working at his craft to get better.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Cain has been solid with a 9-3 record, a 2.62 earned run average, a .96 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), 2 complete games and 2 shutouts.
Dickey has him beaten. Star off with his stellar 12-1 record. Add in a 2.40 ERA, a .93 WHIP, 3 complete games and 2 shutouts.
Why is LaRussa even managing this game? There is precedent for retired managers coming back to manage, but it’s a mixed precedent. John McGraw, the legendary manager of the New York Giants, managed the 1933 National League All-Stars after retiring in 1932.
However, when Casey Stengel was pushed into retirement by the Yankees following the 1960 season, he did not manage the 1961 American League All-Stars.
Is baseball commissioner Bud Selig saying LaRussa is as good a manager as McGraw and better than Stengel?
“Tony earned this opportunity with the remarkable run that the Cardinals completed last October, and I am delighted that he shared my enthusiasm about his staying in this role,” Selig told MLB.com. ”The All-Star Game celebrates all the best of our game, and it is very appropriate that we will have the chance to celebrate one of the greatest managerial careers of all-time as a part of our festivities.”
That’s simply nauseating. Selig simply wanted to smooch LaRussa’s butt one more time.
Instead of making the right choice and putting Dickey on the mound, LaRussa made a poor choice that indicates he has his own agenda.
Of course, nobody is surprised. LaRussa always does what he wants and if he can slight the Mets, he’ll always make that choice.