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Gaston not impressed by La Russa

Toronto’s outgoing manager Cito Gaston doesn’t have much good to say about Tony La Russa.

Cito Gaston and Tony La RussaToronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is finishing his final week in his second stint managing the only remaining MLB club north of the border and has done a fine job just to survive in baseball’s toughest division. Regularly dealing with New York, Boston and Tampa Bay, the 2010 Jays still have posted an identical 82-76 record with St. Louis this season.

Just don’t compare the two clubs’ managers.

In an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail focused on his legacy, Gaston showed little respect for his former American League rival the first time around in the 1980’s, Tony La Russa. The latter is generally considered a Hall of Fame lock while Gaston is not. That seems to eat away at Cito.

“How many World Series has LaRussa won?” he asks with his calm, deep-voiced self-confidence. “He won two. How many have I won? I won two.”

Gaston is unimpressed by La Russa’s absorbed managerial style.

“I think those guys are just a little busy,” Gaston said. “You can only play this game so many kinds of ways. [LaRussa] stands at the top of the dugout, he walks and walks. But a lot of things I see from coaches and managers are just busy.”

Further, Gaston was either unaware that La Russa was also a former major league player or simply chose to forget that fact.

“And you know, I don’t think he played in the big leagues. [LaRussa, in fact, played for parts of six seasons, hitting .199 in 176 at-bats]. I’m not getting on him, but I think people who played at this level are a little calmer when they’re coaching and managing than people who haven’t played at this level.”

Gaston then went into how much his players respected him while conveniently not addressing the reality that La Russa has accumulated nearly three times as many career wins as he (2,634 to 891).

I can understand why Gaston is proud for being the first black manager to win the World Series, but his credentials for the Hall won’t improve by trying to take down La Russa.

Apparently, La Russa has been a source of irritation for Gaston for years. Another Toronto article this week, this one from the Toronto Star, oddly dredged up this 1994 quote from Cito.

“. . . The fact that I am being honoured with a doctorate in law even gives me a leg up on Tony La Russa, manager of the A’s, who only has a regular degree in law. Tony’s a great guy and while he’s been named manager of the year and I haven’t, I’m the one with a University of Toronto degree — a favourable trade off as far as I’m concerned.”

Stay classy in retirement, Cito!

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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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