Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 26, 3:30 PM ET
Chat with Tony La Russa

Buzzmaster
  (3:28 PM)

Tony is here!

Steve (LA)

Did you take notes or anything during last season thinking that you might write a book?

Tony La Russa
  (3:30 PM)

No. Not at all. But I have routinely taken notes after each game, so it was easy to reconstruct each games. I didn't take special notes, because I wasn't aware of the fascination that the public would have with us coming back as the underdog.

Henry (Phoenix)

How good for the game is it that we've seen teams like Baltimore, Washington, and at least earlier in the season, Pittsburgh, have some success this year?

Tony La Russa
  (3:31 PM)

I think one of the problems with our system is so often the city and the fans going into spring training don't have a realistic chance of being excited. Like Tampa Bay if you draft smart and develop well, you can build a nucleus and make some moves to jump into the competition.

Evan (TX)

When did you get the feeling that your team last year could pull off what it did, especialy considering you were 10 games down?

Tony La Russa
  (3:32 PM)

Literally the minute that Atlanta lost to the Phillies on the last day, I thought and have learned over time with experience, any team that's good enough to get to the playoffs is good enough to win three playoff series. It's a waste of time to seed the best team and worst team. If you're good enough, the margin is so tiny, it just comes down to whoever is best in that series.

Chris (Boston)

Given when he was signed, (3 years back now?) would Miguel Cabrera have been worth 10 years?

Tony La Russa
  (3:34 PM)

The way the market is, if you have one team that will pay it, then it's worth it. My point about Albert today and the Cardinals, the Cardinals have to be smart and reasonable. They spent 100 million dollars. It's very difficult to commit to somebody for more than 5 or 6 years, even as great as Albert is. The same is true for Cabrera or Josh Hamilton. But if you're one of the organizations that can print money, then you have a different set of rules.

Greg (DC)

When did you feel like last season warranted writing a book about it?

Tony La Russa
  (3:36 PM)

When it was over, the first thought being with friends and other people that were fascinated by it when they couldn't get enough information about the stuff that we went through, then I started thinking about what was that stuff. You start making a list of, right off the bat a dozen compelling stories that sound like a fiction novel, but it was all right there. I said these guys deserve to have their story told. Then you'd have a deeper conversation about somethings like leadership. That's why there is a lot in the book about leadership, because our coaching staff had a distinctive style.

ale mares (CA)

how does it feel to retired as world series champion and now when you see your team play do you think ther playing good baseball or do they need a little improvent

Tony La Russa
  (3:37 PM)

It felt very fortunate. I say that because if we had finished last, I was done. I finished my career on top because we ended up winning. We didn't win and then I said I'm going to stop. I was going to end whether we won or not.

Rick (Virginia Piedmont)

Mr. La Russa: I know you are a close friend of Jim Leyland. What was it really like to manage against him in the 2006 World Series; also, do you think his Tigers will win the big prize before he is done in Detroit?

Tony La Russa
  (3:38 PM)

Any time that you compete against a good friend, it's uncomfortable, because if you care about the competition and you know your friend cares about it, then at the end, one of you will be happy and one will be upset. But you don't want to lose and you don't want your friend to be upset, so what do you do?

Tony La Russa
  (3:38 PM)

What you do is avoid talking about it and thinking about it. It's still a game between the two teams.

David (DC)

How long did it take you to write the book?

Tony La Russa
  (3:39 PM)

I would say from the first effort to the final draft, about 6 months.

Jeff (RI)

how did you get John Grisham to write the forward?

Tony La Russa
  (3:40 PM)

He knows I'm a big fan. We have a friendship that's based on interest in the Cardinals and writing and reading. So I just imposed on him. I think it's one of the most unique and forwards I've ever read. I take my hat off, because he's so creative to pull that one off.

Paul (Boston)

We all saw Albert struggling to begin the year and thought the world was ending. Yet here he is with 30 HRs and over 100 RBI once again....how does he stay so consistent?

Tony La Russa
  (3:41 PM)

He proved that he was human early because he tried to do too much and he was trying to force it. He just got back to his basics. One of his basics is that he refuses to change his priorities, his personality. It has not impacted him at all.

Rick (Virginia Piedmont)

Mr. La Russa: I know you admired the late Sparky Anderson. How much of his approach did you employ in your years of managing?

Tony La Russa
  (3:42 PM)

You have to be careful with approach. You need to learn lessons, strategies, philosophies. But then you have to fit that together with your other lessons and personality. Sparky gave me a lot of tips about philosophy and strategy that I really consider. I tweaked one or two of them, based on my own experience.

Will (St. Louis)

Even you're out of the game now, do you still keep in contact with some of your former players?

Tony La Russa
  (3:43 PM)

All of the time. All of the time. And current players as well.

Tony La Russa
  (3:43 PM)

My favorite part of the book is talking about my No. 1 take away of my 30 years was the close relationships between me and my coaches and the players. You stay in touch in a lot of different ways and often.

Steve (Baltimore)

did you talk to your players before writing the book?

Tony La Russa
  (3:44 PM)

I talked to them, but in just normal conversations. I would say, hey look, I just mentioned you. We had discussions. I wasn't throwing anyone under the bus so I didn't have to get any permission. The first thing I have to do today is call Albert and tell him what I mean about not giving him a 10-year contract.

jason (muskegon mi)

What's next for you...more baseball but from a front office?

Tony La Russa
  (3:45 PM)

Right now I'm fortunate that the commissioner has given me some responsibilities to stay close to the game of baseball. But at some point, the right opportunity might come up to join a front office team.

Tony La Russa
  (3:46 PM)

I always enjoy talking baseball. Thanks for reaching out.