Bryan Burwell of the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH chronicles a recent chat he had with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on the eve of spring training.
While down in Florida, Burwell approached the St. Louis skipper about the subject of steroids - and more specifically, the legacy of Mark McGwire. La Russa still firmly believes that the former St. Louis slugger never used any performance-enhancing drugs. Such a stance lead to some interesting dialogue between reporter and manager:
I reminded him that the whole point of using many performance-enhancing drugs is to increase the ability to work and train harder. “So working hard doesn’t give you an alibi that you didn’t use drugs,” I told him.
“Well, that’s what you believe and you’re probably right according to testimony, but that’s not what I believe,” La Russa said. “I watched Mark McGwire work.”
I interrupted him.
“Wait a minute, Tony. You still don’t believe McGwire used performance-enhancing drugs?”
“Absolutely not,” he said. “If you see Mark today, he still looks like he did then.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I said.
“Yes, he does,” La Russa said.
“No, he doesn’t,” I repeated.
La Russa tossed his hands in the air and looked at me in frustration. “Are you asking for my opinion or yours?” he said.
“I’m asking your opinion,” I said. “But we’re having a conversation, and I’m disagreeing with you.”
He smiled. I smiled. He shrugged his shoulders. I shrugged mine, then the manager lowered the barrel of his bat to the ground and took a smooth golf swing and smiled again.
We haven’t seen such great oratory skills since this Monty Python sketch. But we’d like to think La Russa & Burwell brushed aside their disagreements long enough to enjoy a few post-practice beers.
Just don’t let Tony drive home afterwards.