Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tutored by la Russa, Cards Aced Most Tests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tutored by la Russa, Cards Aced Most Tests

Article excerpt

The test of this baseball season in St. Louis included more than measuring the wisdom of Cardinals management or its ability to bring in talented players.

It was more than seeing how many games the Cardinals could win or how far they could play into October.

Rather, it was a test to see how well the tradition of the Cardinals and, indeed, baseball in this city could stand up against intense scrutiny. General manager Walt Jocketty brought in Tony La Russa to manage the club. La Russa had other options. He picked the Cards because of a commitment to building a winner. He also equated being a Cardinal to being in the midst of everything that is good about baseball. "So many people I respected told me great things about wearing the Cardinals uniform that I had inflated expectations," La Russa said. From the moment he walked into spring camp, he understood all the talk. He saw replicas of the Cardinals' nine World Series-winning flags and 15 National League pennants at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. As spring turned to summer, he marveled at the parade of quality people who walked in and out of the clubhouse - Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, George Kissell and so many others. La Russa also wondered if maybe his expectations had been too low. The expectations began with making a contender out of an organization that had played largely forgettable ball since the end of the 1989 season, including the second-worst record in the National League last year. This season's expectations ended with a 15-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the seventh game of the NL Championship Series. Embarrassing. But some of that feeling faded during the journey back to St. Louis on Thursday night and even more Friday as Cardinals filtered into the Busch Stadium clubhouse to clean out their lockers. "It's important to try to put things in perspective," La Russa said. …

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