Best Pro Coach

Tony La Russa

Let's make this short and sweet. La Russa has actually won the Big One and a division title or three. True, his championship ring dates back to 1989, with the Oakland Athletics, where he coached those true testaments to better bodies through chemistry, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. But who cares? The lawyerly La Russa has World Series wins on his résumé. Mike Martz, for all his bluster and bragging about "Max Q," is nothing-for-one in Super Bowls. Bossing the league's most talented squad, Martz runs the risk of becoming the Bobby Cox of football -- doing the least with the most amount of talent. Not so La Russa. He's skippering a storied -- but not bulletproof -- franchise in a baseball-crazy town, a team that appears to have the monied want-to to buy the talent it needs despite its poor-mouth whining about needing state money to build a new stadium. Witness the acquisitions of Scott Rolen and Chuck Finley. True, La Russa and longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan don't seem to be able to develop young hurlers, and the team looks awful against the Atlanta Braves. But you have to tip the cap to anybody who can keep in first place a team that's been struck by a rash of early-season injuries and the deaths of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile.
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Previously in Best of St. Louis