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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals minor matters: November 1

Remember the days when you looked forward to being the first in the family to grab the Sports section from the Sunday morning paper and devour it from start to finish?

Well, perhaps you aren’t of that generation, but I was. Here in baseball’s off-season (unless you live in New York or Philadelphia), there is still a good quantity of interesting and quality writing that pops up on the traditional day of rest.

Here are a few articles of interest to me as a St. Louis Cardinals watcher.

TLR unsure on passing McGraw

With Tony La Russa home in California for the winter, the local scribes have better access and as such, are writing about him. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle deals softly with the manager and the Mark McGwire issue, exploring it from a risk perspective taken by La Russa as his career nears its close.

Shea suggests 2010 will be the manager’s last season in that role and asked him point blank about the importance of overtaking John McGraw for the second-most managerial wins of all time.

“La Russa is open to a front-office gig after he’s done managing. He said moving up the wins leaderboard isn’t a priority. With 2,552 wins, he needs to manage into the 2012 season to catch John McGraw (a 211-win difference). He’s nearly 1,200 behind leader Connie Mack.

“’Passing John McGraw is not everything,’ La Russa said. ‘You want to assess that fire in the gut, because it takes that fire to do the job properly. I’ve seen players skate for their final couple of years. You could see them losing the competitive edge, and they took the money because they’re going on their past. There’s a line of integrity there. I don’t want to do that.’”

What’s ahead on the labor front

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo is one writer I often check out. His pieces typically indicate a greater depth of thought and seem less rushed than the many deadline-driven snippets that seem so common in today’s click-driven world.

In his Sunday column, Cafardo reviews the current status in the ongoing standoff between the Players Union and ownership. New Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, who is replacing outgoing Don Fehr next month, discusses the current concerns over contract collusion.

Further, Cafardo considers several factors that may be on the table during the next collective bargaining period. They include the length of the schedule, off days and travel days, draft pick compensation, international draft and small-market payroll subsidies.

A number of these issues need to be addressed. Here is hoping the new Weiner regime is able to work with the owners to make progress in these and other areas.

Team of the decade

Another writer whose work I care for much less is the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers and it is not just because he covers the Cubs. Yet, there are times he deserves a nod. Today is one of those days.

Rogers puts forward a compact, but compelling case for the Cardinals to be labeled as MLB’s “Team of the Decade”, noting their payroll efficiency as a differentiating factor.

Bud welcoming Bonds?

William C. Rhoden of the New York Times is one of the many scribes concerned by Bud Selig’s different stance taken over McGwire compared to other accused steroids users of his era, including Barry Bonds.

“Asked about Bonds’s future in baseball if he is acquitted on perjury charges, Selig said that if a club wanted to hire him as a player or a coach, ‘I don’t think there will be an issue.’”

Bud seemed to down a healthy serving of Sunday breakfast waffles when he qualified his statement.

“’Every case is different,’ Selig said. ‘But as we move forward in the future, every case is different, that’s all I’ll say.’”

Rhoden raises what I think is a good question when he wonders why those from the steroids era aren’t dealt with in a consistent manner, welcomed back to the game. By potentially playing favorites and establishing a “double standard”, Selig risks undermining his credibility and that of Major League Baseball.

McGwire/La Russa/Selig hardliner

Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan is representative of the many critical of the Cardinals’ hiring, coming down hard on the returning slugger/hitting coach, the manager and the commissioner.

Tony La Russa is a sad enabler, a steroid denier whose legacy is entwined with that of a cheater. At least we can understand his motivation in bringing Mark McGwire back to baseball. But Bud Selig should say no, not happening, until we hear from the man who deceived us to such an astonishing degree.

“Mark McGwire owes an explanation to the (Roger) Maris family, if no one else.”

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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