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October 19, 2005

Tony La Russa


Q. Another outstanding season for the 2005 Cardinals. How will you assess this season as a whole?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, you begin with where we ended, playing for the National League Pennant. One thing I told the fellas when it was over, you know, we won a lot of games because we played better than the other team. And we got beat because they played better than we did. But from the first day of spring training to the last day, today, it's been a great group to be around. It really is a special bunch of teammates. We did a lot of good things but just were not good enough in this series to go any farther. Congratulate the Astros.

Q. I know you never like to make excuses but how much did the injuries and the various things that happened take a toll?

TONY LaRUSSA: No, if we had not won the division, then I don't think it would say anything anyway because it comes off like excuses, but we were really beat up and the guys that came in played great. But we got to the playoffs probably healthier than we were in a long time, much like we were in the season. So, I mean it wasn't a health problem; it was an Astros problem.

Q. 200 and whatever wins the last two years but no World Championship, can you just talk about how you feel now?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think there's a strong segment of our support that marks your season with not even getting to the World Series, but winning it. So with that group, you know, we failed. You know, we've got to be more realistic as an organization and coaches and players. Did we give it our best shot? I think we did. That's why, you know, I congratulate the Astros. No, we got into this thing to win the World Series. It's a disappointment.

Q. Are you surprised that, A, that you didn't win tonight, and B, that you didn't play better tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think, I mean, they had a lot of things as a team that they did well to win four games. But I thought the first and maybe the most important key they had was the fella that pitched today, pitched Game 2, and just worked us over, got them even. And today when we were trying to get to Game 7, he just worked us over again. He pitched outstanding, and as long as this game is played, when a pitcher out there is pitching that way, you're not going to do much. It makes your team look like, what's going on, you can't get on base, you can't string any hits together. Just outstanding pitching. I think Oswalt was one of the differences.

Q. Could you just talk about the final game at Busch Stadium and your emotions, seeing this ballpark being closed?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, you know, I think if there's any justice, we did get a win in Houston so that we could play a game here. I think that -- nobody works it out this way, but if there was somebody that worked it out, you know, this ballpark deserved to play a game, hopefully a winner, but even to play a game. But I think our ballclub has paid tribute to the ballpark all year long. We had the pressure starting the season that this was going to be the final year and a lot of people were going to come out there, and we wanted to show them good baseball. I think we paid the ballpark back and the fans back. There at the end, they all stood up for that last inning, a lot of cameras. This is a great bit of baseball history, especially Cardinal history, and with progress, there will be a new one next year.

Q. Could you talk about Larry Walker and what kind of a player he was for you and in these last couple of years for you?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, most people know the kind of player that he has been his whole career, I mean, just a gifted, all-around everything. In fact, I think he probably would be in the Top 3 of just about every category; baserunning, defense, handling the bat. What we came to learn about him, he's really an outstanding personality. I mean, guys like to spend time with him. He knows how to rise to the occasion. And he didn't have a great series because they pitched well. A lot of our guys didn't have a great series because they just pitched well. But Larry, I think the comment that I would make that most people, and we didn't know it until he was a teammate, this guy is a great teammate who is a lot of fun to be around and helped keep those positive vibes that we've had ever since he's been here.

Q. I know you'd rather be there yourself, but how do you feel for guys like Bagwell and Biggio?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, honesty is always better. I was hoping to break their heart again. You know, there is something to the respect you earn and there's several guys there, a couple of those guys were teammates, guys like Orlando, but he's been in the World Series before. But those two guys in particular, that's top-shelf. They set an example for competing and toughness and respect and playing the game right, everything. I mean, they are as good as they come, and reluctantly, I'm really pleased for both those guys.

Q. You kept talking about how winning Game 5 was just one thing, and we haven't done anything yet except get it back here; do you feel like the team played that way tonight, with that same sort of desperation or that you needed to get back here that you kept preaching?

TONY LaRUSSA: I hear this all the time; the club looked flat during the season. You know, when you look flat, when the guy on the mound is shutting you down, you walk to the plate, three guys walk to the plate, they make outs, nobody gets on base, nobody is sliding and all of that kind of stuff. So, you know, Oswalt shut us down. It wasn't anything that we got going. There was one time we had a little action there. So we were ready to play, but a guy who pitched an outstanding game just shut us down.

Q. What happened to Mark Mulder tonight? He started pretty well and then --

TONY LaRUSSA: That's a good question. Dave came back into the dugout after the warm-up and he says he's throwing the ball outstanding, he pitched the first inning like that, and then it just got away. I don't know how to explain it. Mostly, I think you start explaining it, it sounds like excuses, you either do or you don't. It started well and it got away. You know, that was the second time that he's pitched that we had an infield ball to the right side, one was a bunt and one was covered, he didn't cover first, and that's important not to miss in a close competition, as a mistake that we made, and we paid for it.

End of FastScripts...

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