St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa retired this morning in a press conference at Busch Stadium.  He said he’s been considering the move since the middle of the 2011 season, and wouldn’t specify any one reason for leaving, saying instead that it was a combination of several factors.  However, he was clear that he is not interested in managing another team, or in taking a job as a GM.

Here’s the ESPN story on La Russa’s retirement, with a portion of the press conference video.  If I can find the complete video, I’ll link it here as well.

A couple quick reactions:

  • First of all, despite what the ESPN talking heads like Buster Olney have said, La Russa’s departure almost certainly impacts Albert Pujols’ decision about returning to the Cardinals.  The relationship between La Russa and Pujols has been solid through their time together, and both have talked about their deep respect for one another.  Any uncertainty about who he might be playing for next season would obviously impact Pujols’ contract decisions, and instability in the front office or the clubhouse might make other suitors look much more attractive.  Also, with La Russa gone, Pujols’ decision to leave or stay in St. Louis becomes even less a question of loyalty–if anything, it frees him up from the idea that he’s abandoning a longtime friend and mentor.  Overall, I think La Russa’s retirement makes it much easier for Pujols to leave town.
  • I’ve never been a big La Russa fan, although I did cheer for his Oakland A’s Bash Brothers-era teams (I was in elementary school at the time, don’t hold it against me).  Even within the Cardinals fanbase, he might be one of the most divisive figures in baseball.  Even sportswriters can’t make up their minds about what he is–is he a strategic genius, or a meddling nuisance?  It seemed during the playoffs–and especially the World Series–that the general consensus could change overnight.  For my part, I always leaned heavily toward the meddling nuisance camp.  What say you?
  • While he was clear he’s not interested in managing again, or moving into a GM role with a new team, he was less specific about taking a job somewhere in the MLB.  La Russa and Bud Selig have a good relationship, so don’t be surprised when he takes a Joe Torre-esque position with the league.
  • No word yet if he’ll become the national spokesman for Transitions Lenses.
  • I couldn’t bring myself to watch much of the World Series this year.  I know it was supposedly a classic series–possibly one of the best ever.  But for an avowed Cardinals-hater like me, it was torture.  I couldn’t enjoy the ups and downs of the games–all the dramatic lead swings and the late-inning heroics.  It was just too agonizing to watch the Cards inch closer to another championship.  However, there was one moment from Game 5 that I will treasure for years to come:

 

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