Tony La Russa takes blame for mix-up

Updated: October 26, 2011, 11:46 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Tony La Russa is taking full responsibility for the bullpen phone mix-up that dearly cost the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

La Russa says it was entirely his fault that closer Jason Motte wasn't warming up in the eighth inning Monday night in Texas. The Rangers scored twice for a 4-2 win and took a 3-2 edge in the Series.

The teams were off on Tuesday. During an interview session at Busch Stadium, La Russa said he twice called to get Motte ready. La Russa says the first time, he might have mentioned Motte after bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist had hung up the phone.

The second time, La Russa says he wanted Motte, but Lilliquist instead heard the name of reliever Lance Lynn.

"Hey, it's my fault," he said. "Maybe I slurred it, whatever it is. It comes down to who has the responsibility when there's those kinds of miscommunications."

La Russa says the Cardinals don't double-check on names during those calls. La Russa says he's assured Lilliquist "10 times" the miscommunication was the manager's fault.

"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. "The phones are preventable. It's my fault for not handling it better and making sure. All I had to do was look in the bullpen -- repeat -- to make sure."

In the age of email, texting, iChat and Skype, 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.

Managers are obsessive about their dugout phones, checking them before every game to make sure they're operational. The problem in Rangers Ballpark is you can't see the visiting bullpen from the third-base dugout. Cleveland and Toronto already have screens for the managers to monitor the pens.

"They need to put TV monitors in all the ballparks you can't see," said La Russa's good buddy, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I guarantee you they'll be a proposal made at the general managers' meetings. That's all that's going to come from this. You live and learn."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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