Tony La Russa gets in squabble with Pittsburgh Pirates’ broadcaster

Tony La Russa gets in squabble with Pittsburgh Pirates' broadcaster

Tony La Russa admitted Thursday that he confronted Pittsburgh Pirates broadcasters during Tuesday’s game regarding on-air comments.

Tony La Russa acknowledged he went into a broadcast booth during Tuesday night’s game after he “heard some stuff on the air” that he considered inaccurate about his history with retaliatory pitches during his managerial days.

“I never have stood for inaccuracies,” La Russa said, “so I corrected the inaccuracies.”

Brown had said that La Russa, as a manager, believed in retaliating for hit by pitches even in cases that were unintentional.

The Diamondbacks-Pirates situation goes back to the Goldschmidt-McCutchen [situation] of a couple years ago, and of course, we always point out the fact that this baseball team is run by Tony La Russa, chief baseball officer.

[…]

The manager of the Cardinals, A’s, and White Sox, always believed that you had to essentially retaliate, even though you know that Caminero wasn’t trying to hit Segura.

After La Russa entered the booth, Brown evidently got up from his table to discuss the matter with La Russa.

In case you missed it, Brown defended himself during the game today, taking several minutes to essentially reiterate what he’d said before.

I was startled that he would leave his general manager booth, and in the middle of a ballgame, come and disrupt a broadcast. So, I left it at that. I did not want—I didn’t want this to become a story. I didn’t want to embarrass Tony La Russa. I have too much respect for him. When asked, I kept quiet about it and hoped that it would pass.

But Tony La Russa last night, to an Arizona newspaper, quoted as saying that he acknowledged that he went into the broadcast booth Tuesday night after “he heard some stuff on the air” that he considered inaccurate about his history with retaliatory pitches during his managerial days. Quoting La Russa, “I never has stood for inaccuracy, so I corrected the inaccuracy. It’s about taking responsibility. If you’re going to speak untruths then you’re going to get challenged and you should be responsible for what you say. I am. I reacted.” Well, now I react. I didn’t speak any untruths. I spoke completely accurately, and I’ll stand by every word I said. Again, I didn’t want it to get to this point. I don’t want to get in any more squabbles, but I need to tell my side of the story.

It was great TV, too. I can’t remember a baseball announcer ever doing anything like that before, but then I’ve also never heard of a top sports official ever showing up unprompted during a broadcast to argue with an announcer, at least not outside the WWE or something.

I can’t speak much regarding La Russa’s tenure with the White Sox and A’s, but as manager of the Cardinals, his stance on HBPs is a matter of public record, and it’s consistent with what Brown said. Here’s La Russa from 2011, regarding a retaliatory HBP of the Brewers’ Ryan Braun:

“The ball that they tried to throw on Pujols was aimed right where they aimed it,” La Russa said. “Did they try to hit him? No. But there’s a small window. They did it [Monday] and the ball trickled off his bat. You know how close that is to your face and your hand?

“So I don’t want to hear about our tactics vs. what they did. They did not make an intentional hit, but they tried to throw the ball up and in, and it’s a very dangerous pitch and we almost paid a hell of a price. So I don’t want to hear about it.”

Then, of course, there’s the reputation as the “dirtiest team in baseball” former GM Kevin Towers and former manager Kirk Gibson acquired for the Diamondbacks during La Russa’s tenure in Arizona.

Beyond the HBPs, though, the more interesting, and more unprecedented, aspect of this story is that La Russa entered the opposing team’s broadcast booth during a game. That’s truly strange, and it shouldn’t happen. Broadcasters like Brown might be journalists who work for a team, but they’re still journalists, and the possibility of team officials barging in to argue during broadcasts could have a chilling effect.