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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast


La Russa's Comments Unnecessary

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I'll give anybody who's grieving the loss of someone close to him or her a little room, but Tony La Russa is totally out of line to threaten violence on members of the media if he doesn't like what they've got to report.

Here's a nice shot of him swinging a bat, which he threatened to use on reporters who don't cover the death of Cardinals Pitcher Josh Hancock the way he'd like.

Our sports crew collected his abrupt comments yesterday out at Miller Park. Here's how they appeared also in this morning's St. Louis Post Dispatch:

"'I also had a very important caution: Be careful of the insincerity of some media people … trying to befriend you then try to slam you with something that they want to turn this into, some kind of story that's not all sweet,' La Russa said. 'I've already seen signs of that. I'm sitting here listening. The first time I hear insincerity I'll start swinging this fungo because it doesn't have its place.'"

C'mon man? I know you're grieving. Your team is grieving. Your fans are grieving. And now you've got to find a way to put that aside and play baseball, and you've got to do it well because you're the defending world champions. That's not easy. But, c'mon man.

Why would lash out at the reporters covering the story? No doubt there are some idiots in my line of work. Maybe some news makers out there think I'm one of them. That's cool. But why do you use the tragedy of the death of one of your ballplayers to take a swipe at the industry?

 Let's be honest, everybody, including La Russa, wants to know if Hancock was drunk when he slammed into a parked tow truck early Sunday morning. Toxicology results won't be back for a couple weeks, but the investigation has already begun.

Let's be clear: if Hancock were drunk that makes this situation no less tragic. A man lost is a man mourned. If nothing else, it perhaps makes it more tragic, because it would be a death easily prevented.

That said, reporters are already retracing Hancock's steps from the night in question. Witnesses report he'd been drinking heavily, and that's not the most damning evidence that points to the possibility that this accident could have been prevented.

The Post Dispatch also reports Hancock smashed up his car in an accident just days before the fatal encounter. He was out at 5:30 in the morning, late for arrival at the stadium for the day's game, and according to a team source hung over and unable to play.

So this is what La Russa is worried about. He doesn't want anyone to find out that their guy may have been battling an alcohol problem and that he knew it. He doesn't want anyone to find out instead of helping Hancock get things together, other teammates may have encouraged his behavior. He was actually on his way to meet some of the fellas at a bar after Midnight Sunday morning when the accident happened.

Or maybe La Russa just doesn't want you to remember he got pinched for DUI just two months ago. That's his mugshot, to the left, after he got picked up in Florida. According to police he was asleep at the wheel, car in drive, foot on break at an intersection.

Look, I feel for this team, and even for La Russa. As detailed earlier, he's going through a tough time. But dude, get it together for yourself, for your organization, and let reporters do their jobs. If troubles of this nature can't be exposed, they can't be helped and prevented in the future. If the events as characterized thus far ring true, some members of the Cardinals will have some soul searching to do.

Embrace it. Don't hit the messenger with a bat.



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