Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ozzie/tony Show Needs to Close on Harmonious Note

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ozzie/tony Show Needs to Close on Harmonious Note

Article excerpt

Issue No. 1: Ozzie Smith.

No criticism of The Wizard. Just one wish: that the shortstop and manager Tony La Russa have, as indicated, reached something of a peace accord. Smith and La Russa don't have to be buddies. They just need to be able to work together in reasonable harmony.

Ozzie has played well when used. He can help this team, which needs all hands pulling together as the division race grinds on in this long, hot summer.

Now's the time for Ozzie to go out in style, to receive the appropriate honors, to be greeted warmly as the Cardinals make stops throughout the National League. His fans want to remember him that way. All positive.

Each time Ozzie complains about playing time, or attacks La Russa's integrity, he loses a bit of respect. And his image - outside of St. Louis - gets tainted. I scanned the Sunday baseball columns from newspapers around the nation; Ozzie was roughed up. One New York writer called Smith "one of the game's biggest whiners."

That's just one example of how Ozzie is being portrayed in baseball markets away from his friendly home base. St. Louis will continue to love Ozzie Smith. But outside of St. Louis, Ozzie's reputation is being chipped at, and the erosion of his national stature is unfortunate.

Issue No. 2: Wayne Gretzky.

I hope he signs. The Blues need a playmaking center. Gretzky probably will be healthy and in better condition next season. Gretzky and Brett Hull will have all season to create on-ice chemistry. And I suspect Gretzky will be fired up to silence those who say he's no longer a force in the National Hockey League.

What if Gretzky refuses the Blues' offer of $14 million over two years? Well, do you remember all the negative stories about No. 99 when he forced the trade from the Los Angeles Kings to the Blues? Gretzky was portrayed as a selfish mercenary, abandoning the poor Kings. …

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