Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Greg Giraldo, Jeffrey Ross…and Tony La Russa?
Under normal circumstances, Tony La Russa and a sense of humor go together about as well as animal rights and a thick, juicy steak. Typically you’d need a canister of tear gas to elicit something resembling laughter from the all-too-serious skipper.
But few punches were pulled Sunday at the annual St. Louis chapter BBWAA dinner. Like his crippling phobia of young players. Surely there were some good barbs about that right? Or his general dourness during postgame news conferences, where he often looks as though his third-favorite dog just had to be put down. Probably some real knee slappers there. Then there’s the one about his lineup cards being like snowflakes. No two are ever alike. Ever.
Okay, so maybe some of those didn’t make the final cut. But there were a handful jokes about falling asleep at the wheel. But hey, it was all in good fun. I’m sure Josh Hancock’s family was in stitches.
Most of Tony’s lifelong friends were in attendance, which even included a few bipeds. Friends like fellow baseball manager Jim Leyland, former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, and a kangaroo.
At one point, actor and notorious Cardinals suck-up Billy Bob Thornton praised both Knight and La Russa for being old school coaches, saying, “The more chairs Bob throws, the more I love him.”
This prompted Knight to honor Thornton’s words and La Russa by…what else? Throwing a chair.
Later, Knight choked a college kid and berated and physically intimidated a female secretary as part of the gag. All laughed heartily.
Unfortunately, longtime friend Bill Belichick was too busy watching his Patriots get booted from the playoffs by the New York Jets (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Which is too bad, rumor has it that Belichick tells a mean knock-knock joke.
Singer Bruce Hornsby was also unable to make the event. Attending on his behalf was The Range, which had nothing else to do.