Following the parade through the streets of downtown St. Louis, and subsequent celebratory ceremony inside Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon, long-time Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa called a meeting. It would be his last. He told the players, coaches, and the small intimate group in attendance that he’d decided to retire, and would not be returning for another season. Nearly everyone was shocked, many were emotional, and only those who were there know exactly what it was like in that moment. David Freese recounted in a radio interview on Thursday, “I’m glad I was sitting down when he told us.”.
Tony LaRussa announces his retirement after 33 years of managing in MLB. Bill DeWitt Jr, Tony LaRussa, John Mozeliak (L to R)
Less than a week later, the organization has already begun conducting interviews for LaRussa’s replacement. The list that’s apparently floating around out there, though it doesn’t appear the club has confirmed it, includes the following handful of candidates:

And right on cue, Cardinals fans are pissing a moaning about the lackluster “short list”.

“Where’s Joe Maddon??”
“They have to give it to Oquendo!”
“Francona is the only guy with any Major League experience!”
“Why isn’t Don Mattingly on the list?”
“Can’t hire Sandberg–he was a CUB!”
“They can’t give it to Oquendo!”

…and plenty of other nonsensical outcries.

Listen, poll Cardinal Nation a week ago, and ask “With whom should the Cardinals replace Tony LaRussa?”, and EVERYBODY on the aforementioned list is suddenly over-qualified. People are writing in “Helen Keller”, “My dead grandma”, “My dog, Rolen”, and “lamp shade” as quickly as they can. It’s the battle cry we’ve heard from half of Cardinal Nation for the last decade and a half: “A.B.L.”, baby, Anybody But LaRussa.

Yet, now that it’s a situation that the Cardinals are actually in, it’s being taken to the next level. Now, anyone who has ever worn the birds on the bat is suddenly deserving and qualified to manage the 2012 team. Milt Thompson? Bingo! Rex Hudler? Bring him in! Keith Hernandez? Perfect man for the job. Todd Zeile? Slap a “12” on his back, and call him skipper! I cannot, for the life of me, understand the logic behind these arguments…and spare me the “they understand the Cardinal way” stuff. A year ago, Marty Mason would’ve been “perfect” in a lot of these same folks’ minds.

I suppose it’s simply the emotion-driven sentiment that comes along with most fan bases. When you’re talking sheer numbers, and almost as many different personality types, logic & sound reasoning often elude the masses. I wrote about that earlier, but I’m no less irritated by it today than I was then.

But, now we’ve gone and taken it to a whole new level. We, as a general fan base, are demanding…DE-MAND-ING that Joe Maddon bring himself, and those highlights we’ve not seen since the Edmonds days, down to 700 Clark Street, and meet with Mo. And I mean yesterday! Repeat after me: Joe…Maddon…

(no, seriously, go ahead and say it aloud)

Joe. Maddon. Is. Under. Contract.

If the right thing to do is pursue a manager who is already under contract with another team, then why don’t the Cardinals just skip all the messing around, and just go get Mike Scioscia? He’s under contract until 2018, sure…but that’s irrelevant, because the Cardinals fans want him in St. Louis, right? Look, I’d be just as happy as the next guy to have Maddon or Scioscia in the home dugout calling the shots at Busch next summer and beyond. But for me, that wish is on the same list that has all that stuff about Jessica Alba, and for those of you familiar with the phrase, I’ll bet my other hand fills up first.

Maybe the good folks in the front office at Tropicana Field are still a little sore about the way the whole rumored ‘Colby Rasmus & others for Jeff Niemann & others’ deal that, at least according to some accounts, John Mozeliak pulled the rug out from under Andrew Friedman at the last minute. “If Mozeliak from St. Louis calls, don’t answer.” may be the standing order to the staff down in St. Pete. That kind of stuff happens, folks. There are an awful lot of egos out there, and many of them are quite sizable. Relationships between the Cardinals and Padres have been favorable in recent years, it’s reasonable to assume that other relationships aren’t as good, and some might be downright bad. It would be most unfortunate if the relationship between the Cardinals and the Rays were bad, though, for a number of reasons–not the least of which is that in some ways, the Rays are the new Expos.

I don’t know who the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals will be. Interviews began on Thursday, when two candidates met with members of the Cardinals brass. Francona is expected to interview Friday, while interview times for Delino DeShields and the great Casey Stengel have not yet to be determined. Mozeliak has given a tentative timetable of the next few weeks to get a deal done–presumably some time before Thanksgiving is a general target. Either way though, rushing a decision is obviously a mistake, but promptness needs to be balanced with being thorough and confident in their selection.

After all, there’s other important business to tend to.

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