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Phone foulup leaves Cards on World Series brink
“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.”
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.”
In other words, don’t expect laptops in the dugouts. Major League Baseball isn’t about to replace phones with Microsoft Communicator.
“I think that’s getting a little too technical,” Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve got enough tech stuff going on.”
He has his own backup system in case the phones go down.
“You come up with signals, like one for get the big guy up, or another for the short fat guy or the guy with the long hair,” he said. “But when you’ve got a stadium like that, if you can’t see, then you don’t really know what’s going on.”
“That’s faulty design, and I helped design it, so it’s my fault,” he said.
Until now, communication between the dugout and bullpen hasn’t really been an issue. The bullpen phone has been around since everyone in the game first walked into a ballpark.
Most stadiums have a couple of dugout phones, in fact. During the NL playoffs, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke intended to call the bullpen to get Chris Narveson loose. Instead, Roenicke mistakenly grabbed another phone at Busch Stadium and told the person who answered _ in the press box _ to “Get Narv up.”
Oops, wrong number.
“The answer is baseball tradition. I really think that’s it. I don’t think anyone’s looked into it in recent years,” Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. “In the years I’ve been in baseball I can’t remember it ever coming up as a topic.”
Baseball’s concern with phones focuses on advertising: Signs in both Busch Stadium bullpens for “U.S. Cellular,” and frequent “AT&T Calls to the Bullpen” are heard on broadcasts.
Now, the nature of pitching changes has changed. Alongside all his accomplishments, La Russa will be remembered for this famous failure to communicate.
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