Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tony La Russa takes blame for St. Louis Cardinals' World Series bullpen phone follies

ST. LOUIS — Bobby Valentine thought about the bizarre events he had seen in Game 5 of the World Series, when 19th-century technology fouled up Tony La Russa and the Cardinals.

"It's kind of stupid, isn't it?" said Valentine, who has managed more than 2,000 major-league games.

In the age of email, texting and webcams, baseball remains tied to the traditions established in the Civil War era of flannel uniforms. La Russa conveyed his decisions to the bullpen with a device born the same year as the National League: the telephone.

And when the instructions didn't get through to bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist — twice! — baseball lore was made with St. Louis' 4-2 loss to the Rangers on Monday night.

Now the Cardinals trail 3-2 in the Series and must win two in a row for the title.

La Russa accepted the blame. "It comes down to who has the responsibility when there's those kind of miscommunications," he said. "It's mine."

From the bullpen, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"Every time I heard the phone ring, somebody got going," Jason Motte said. "As far as I know, there wasn't a missed call or anything like that."

And Motte, the reliever who was supposed to face Mike Napoli but never did, was right where he was expected to be. Not away in the bathroom, or back in the clubhouse.

"It's happened before, when you'll be sitting there and feel like you have to pee," said Motte, who emphasized that was not the case in this instance. "But even if it did, I don't think it would affect us from going out there."

After the game, with the ballpark nearly empty, the bullpen phone 400 or so feet away could be heard ringing when the narrow black handset with the gray pushbuttons was picked up in the visitors dugout on the third-base side. But with a crowd of 51,459 a few hours earlier, a meltdown occurred.

With the score tied at 2, right-hander Octavio Dotel replaced Chris Carpenter to start the eighth and Michael Young doubled. Adrian Beltre struck out and Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked.

La Russa said he had told Lilliquist to have the left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and Motte warm up, but Lilliquist only heard "Rzepczynski." La Russa now thinks Lilliquist may have hung up after hearing the first name.

Going by the numbers (lefties hit .163 off Rzepczynski during the regular season, righties .275), La Russa brought in Rzepczynski to face lefty David Murphy.

Murphy hit a comebacker that could have become an inning-ending double play but deflected off the reliever's bare hand for an infield single. Then La Russa noticed Motte was not warming up, and he called the bullpen again. But Lilliquist said he thought he heard "Lynn," for right-hander Lance Lynn, who was supposed to be resting after throwing 47 pitches in Game 3.

With Motte (.162 vs. righties and .270 vs. lefties) still not warming up, La Russa left Rzepczynski in to face Napoli, who sent a slider into the right-center gap for a two-run double.

"I said, man, this is stuff that I hope happens on a Wednesday game on the road someplace that nobody is there. Then of course it wouldn't have happened that way," La Russa recalled.

Tony La Russa takes blame for St. Louis Cardinals' World Series bullpen phone follies 10/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.