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. Rays morning after: Secret to Alex Colome's success is staying cool, calm, collected

    Blogs

    The ninth inning couldn't have started much worse for Rays closer Alex Colome on Tuesday, who took over with a 6-4 lead and quickly allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate.

  2. How will former USF assistant Tom Allen fare at Indiana?

    Blogs

    Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo doesn't sound particularly optimistic about Tom Allen's chances of keeping Indiana competitive in his first year as the Hoosiers' head coach.

    "He has some challenges," DiNardo said.

  3. ESPN cites safety in removing Robert Lee from UVA broadcast due to name (w/video)

    College

    ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of the University of Virginia's first football game next month because he has the same name as a Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being taken down across the country.

    Louisville lines up for a play against Virginia during an NCAA college football game in Charlottesville, Va., in 2016 ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee will not work Virginia's season opener because of recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A spokeswoman for ESPN says Lee has been moved to Youngstown State's game at Pittsburgh on the ACC Network on Sept. 2. The network says the decision was made "as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name." [Associated Press]
  4. Celtics were only team in position to deal for Kyrie Irving

    Nba

    The Cavaliers found themselves in a seemingly impossible situation when it came to trading Kyrie Irving. Not only did Cleveland need to try to extract the kind of price a team looks to get to trade its star — some combination of cap relief, young players and draft picks — it also needed to acquire talent to …

    Kyrie Irving, left, is guarded by Stephen Curry during the NBA Finals last season. [Associated Press]
  5. Browns, who visit Bucs this week, take a courageous step toward social change

    Bucs

    CLEVELAND — The laughingstock of the league during a 1-15 season in 2016, the Browns took a dramatic step forward Monday night.

    Browns players kneel as others stand to support their circle during the national anthem before Monday night's preseason game against the Giants. [Associated Press]