When the St. Louis Cardinals called a news conference for 9 a.m. CDT on Monday, many in the Twitterverse thought it would be so they could announce that Yadier Molina’s contract option had been picked up.
To everyone’s surprise, it was for an entirely different reason — to announce Tony La Russa’s retirement as manager. Imagine that — a news conference that produces actual news.
MLB.com quoted La Russa as saying he felt it was the right time to retire:
“There isn’t one [factor] that dominates [my decision],” La Russa said. "They all just come together telling you your time is over.
“We went through the season and I felt that this just feels like it’s time to end it and I think it’s going to be great for the Cardinals to refresh what’s going on here.”
La Russa would have had to manage just 36 wins in 2012 to pass John McGraw on the all-time manager wins list, but said that wasn’t really that important to him:
“I’m aware of the history of the game,” he said. “But I would not be happy with myself if the reason I came back was to move up one spot. That’s not why you manage … it’s not something that motivates me. Wherever you finish, you finish.”
Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt, Jr., and GM John Mozeliak were effusive in their praise for La Russa:
“We’re grateful for what he’s done for the Cardinals all these years,” Cardinals chairman and chief executive officer Bill DeWitt Jr. said.
“My mind’s not as strong as Tony’s because I was thinking about this all the time,” Mozeliak said. “I know the impact he had on this organization and specifically on the 2011 team. It’s hard for me to swallow but at the same time I have to admire that he never wavered. Today is about Tony; tomorrow is about the next chapter for the St. Louis Cardinals.”
And now, Mozeliak will begin the search for La Russa’s successor; whoever is hired will have a tough job to follow a future Hall of Famer in the Cardinals’ manager’s office.