Yet if we believe La Russa, he was ignorant of any performance-enhancing substance use in both Oakland and St. Louis. This man—George Will’s example of brilliance in the book, “Men at Work,” a baseball manager with a law degree, the subject of the book, “Three Nights in August,” by Buzz Bissinger, a book that, according to Publisher’s Weekly, “reveals La Russa’s history and personality, conveying the manager’s intensity and his compulsive need to be prepared for any situation that might arise during ” ‘the war’ of each at-bat”—didn’t know the stars of his teams were using steroids.
Of all the absurdities of the steroid era, this might be the most absurd.
La Russa’s claim of ignorance smacks of arrogance, the very arrogance that has motivated him to bring McGwire, who had been a hermit since his embarrassing appearance before Congress in 2005, back into the game as the Cardinals hitting coach. The last thing baseball needs is one of the biggest remainders of one of its most shameful eras back in the game and in uniform. It is not good for the game, and certainly not good for the Cardinals franchise, which has become divided over McGwire’s presence.
...It won’t. La Russa’s role in the steroid era is as large and loathsome as McGwire’s, Barry Bonds, or any of the high-profile cheaters. He is the management figure most associated with steroid use—in two leagues—and like those cheaters, should not honored for his contributions.
La Russa is third on the all-time wins list by managers, with 2,552. He has won two World Series, five pennants and four Manager of the Year honors. But in those categories that very much exist among the criteria for election of baseball’s Hall of Fame—“integrity, sportsmanship, character”—Tony La Russa belongs with Mark McGwire, on the outside looking in.