Tony La Russa has a reputation for complaining. This isn’t anything new, and this isn’t sour grapes from a guy who follows the Brewers — there’s a pretty solid history here. When you Google “la russa upset,” you wind up with 230,000 hits. The latest? Complaining that the ribbon board at Miller Park somehow illuminates the batter’s box more for the Brewers than visiting teams.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, taking a look at just a few of the controversies he’s tried to start over the years.
1990: LaRussa is on the cover of Sports Illustrated as manager of the A’s. He complains about sign-stealing:
“At least three clubs in our league—Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toronto—work hard to steal signs when they have a runner on second base,” La Russa says. “And that really irritates me. O.K., if it’s an edge and the other team lets you take it, you go ahead. But if I were a pitcher and I had to deal with all the changes of signs that the other team makes necessary by stealing signs, I would not put up with the disruption of my concentration.”
He goes on to say that if he were the pitcher and he caught someone stealing signs at second, he would proceed to throw at the batter.
1993: La Russa gets upset at the Brewers when Phil Garner came onto the field while La Russa was arguing a call with an upmire. It’s apparently against the unwritten rules for the other manager to come onto the field during an argument, and it sparked a brawl.
2002: La Russa and Dave Duncan accuse Sammy Sosa of stealing signs against Matt Morris.
2002: After Kenny Lofton of the Giants hit a home run in Game 1 of the NLCS, Lofton saw a pitch up and in near his head on the first pitch of his next at-bat. After the game, Duncan called Lofton “a classless act in more ways than one.”
2004: Tim Kurkjian tells a story about La Russa having his trainer give signs because “no one was watching him.” La Russa paranoia at its finest?
2005: La Russa complains about ESPN moving Cardinals/Giants to Sunday Night Baseball in the last game before the All-Star break, calling it a “clueless move.”
2006: Anonymous Cardinals source claims the White Sox were using a camera in the centerfield scoreboard to steal signs.
2007: La Russa demands Aaron Harang be suspended after he hits Gary Bennett in the head with a pitch. Of course, when Brad Thompson gets suspended in 2009 for throwing at David Wright, La Russa gets upset.
2009: La Russa and Chris Carpenter accuse the Rockies’ grounds crew of building the pitching mound at a different slope than the bullpen mound.
2009: La Russa and Duncan accuse the Reds of not properly rubbing down the baseballs before the game, because they were “slippery.” They then accused Bronson Arroyo of using pine tar under the bill of his cap, saying that’s the reason why he wasn’t affected the same way John Smoltz was.
2009: La Russa sues Twitter over a fake Tony La Russa parody account.
2010: Carpenter and the Cards again complain about slick baseballs in Cincinnati.
2011: La Russa gets upset when Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman called Carpenter a “whiner and excuse-maker,” after Carpenter complained about the mound in Cincinnati and smoke that apparently lingered too long on the field following home run fireworks.
Of course, this is far from everything — basically just the stuff I could dig up before things got really interesting in Tuesday night’s game. Feel free to add any more you can remember.