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October 16, 2011

Tony La Russa


St. Louis Cardinals 12
Milwaukee Brewers 6

Q. Your players always talk about maintaining a belief that they can win, regardless of circumstances. Your clubs are typical like that. How does that get done, 10 and a half games out?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that strains the credibility of the -- a lot of it has to do with character. We had a very strong character team. And when it started to get away from us, I just reminded them, look -- I tell you exactly, the first four months we had a ton of respect from our peers. And for two weeks in August we started mugging games left and right. And we had to say, hey, look, unless we go about this better, we're going to ruin everything we accomplished as far as respect.
And we started winning a little bit. And literally played every game like it was the last game of our life. And they did today. I was listening to the guys, this is the like last game we'll ever play. It's good character, good talent.

Q. With all the experience you've had in the comeback of this year's team, where does this rate in your career as far as thrills go?
TONY LA RUSSA: This is in the improbable, incredible, overwhelming. They're all special. This one here has its own mark, because coming from that far back is historic I think. That's what they tell me. And having to win on the road, Philadelphia, these guys. I think the thing that is freaky about it is the way the postseason has gone with relief pitchers being so dominant in the games.
It wasn't just us. And that's a little bit disappointing, because every team got here with their starters, as well. And I feel like make sure we get our starting pitchers, Texas had some of that same stuff and Milwaukee. The starters get you here, the relievers finish. It's the weirdest postseason -- even if I was a fan watching, I've never seen anything like that, never been a part of anything like this, just where starters couldn't keep the ball in the middle. It was just ridiculous.

Q. You've taken three St. Louis Cardinals teams to the World Series. What makes this one different?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, in '04 we had three MVP candidates. It was just a very solid team. We lost Carp in September. I think we would have made a better showing against the Red Sox if we'd have had him. I'm not sure we'd have beat them, but we'd have looked better.
Something like this, we were really good and then we got hurt. And so we only won 83 games, but we were really beat up. All of a sudden playoffs started and we were healthy and we're dangerous.
But there were additions to that '06 club; Jeff Weaver, young relievers. This one, a lot of adversity, a lot of character, not quitting. There was a trade, and we got better. Took us a couple of weeks to prove it. We had a nice club there, in doing this run we weren't doing it with mirrors, we had a good team, a very good team.

Q. Tony, it went 4-0 after a half inning. Were you thinking maybe I won't have to go to the bullpen as often, it could be a more normal game?
TONY LA RUSSA: I was hoping with every bit of my being, because we've seen Edwin just mow clubs down. But the first inning they started and -- I think probably the most nervous game I've ever been a part of in the postseason.
The only thing that comes close in '89 we had a 4th game against Toronto where Bob Welch struggled. And that was important. This one, here, you never felt -- we were up 12-6 in that 9th inning, and I was worried they were going to put something together. That's how good they are.

Q. This club in many ways epitomizes the old approach manager, the day-to-day, the grind, that kind of effort.
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, it's not my approach; it's the Cardinal approach. That's what this franchise is famous for, play hard every day, minimize mistakes.
We have a good coaching staff that preaches that, teaches that. All we need is the game for the players. I said in Spring Training, our group, anyone associated with a Major League club likes this club. They're talented, good people, fun to be around and they've got good guts. That's why that lull in August was so disappointing, because we're mugging it. And turned out we didn't.

Q. Talk about the challenges that Texas Rangers represent. It's a hungry club there, as well, isn't it?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'll be talking about that tomorrow, because I haven't -- I've been paying a little bit of attention, obviously. But we were so focused on just playing the day. Everybody kept talking about, don't think about tomorrow as a safety net. This is all about taking our shot. Now we've got it and just enjoying the moment. We've got a couple of days to think about Texas.

Q. This could be it for Prince in Milwaukee. Would you be glad to be rid of him if he left the League?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I -- in the 9th, I had Dave McKay get his attention and tell him I wanted to congratulate him on a great year. He looked in, and I tipped my hat and clapped for him.
I've watched him grow up, and he's grown up to where he's not only just a dangerous producer, but I've watched how he is part of the leadership of that club. Who knows? I mean, I don't know what his future is. He may come back. He may be much more well off than he is right now, but he's a special guy. He's got a lot of that ahead of him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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