With the celebrations for the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series triumph barely concluded, there is already news likely to devastate Redbirds fans. And, no, Albert Pujols has not signed a contract with the rival Chicago Cubs.
But the news breaking on Monday morning might be runner up to such an announcement as far as it impacts the immediate future of the franchise. Longtime Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is retiring.
"There isn't one [factor] that dominates [my decision]," La Russa said during a press conference at Busch Stadium on Monday morning. "They all just come together telling you your time is over."
"I'm looking forward to what's ahead," added La Russa, who informed the Cardinals' front office in August that he'd be stepping down at the conclusion of the season. "I'm ready to do something different."
La Russa, 67, ends his managerial career with a record of 2,728-2,365 over 33 seasons and three World Series titles. He was just 35 wins away from passing John McGraw for second place on the all-time list. Having won the 1989 World Series with the Oakland Athletics, La Russa joins Sparky Anderson as one of the two managers to win a world championship in the American and National leagues. He is the only skipper to helm multiple pennant winners in each circuit.
At his farewell announcement, La Russa insisted that he has no plans to manage again but left the door open to working in baseball in some capacity.
Both La Russa and the Cardinals held a mutual contract option for the 2012 season. Not surprisingly, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was hoping to exercise that option. On Sunday, the team announced that it had chosen to pick up an option on catcher Yadier Molina.
Of course, it is not Molina's contract status that Cardinals fans -- and likely Cardinals management -- is most concerned with as the team enters the offseason. Before La Russa's announcement, it was anticipated that the fate of Pujols would be the most dramatic storyline of the offseason. During the team's victory parade through St. Louis on Sunday, fans pleaded with Pujols to re-sign with the Cardinals as a free agent. Perhaps, they should have also been asking for the team's manager to come back.
If La Russa's retirement is the prelude to Pujols' departure then surely the 2011 World Series will be viewed as the end of particularly fruitful era in the storied history of the Cardinals. Since being appointed manager in 1996, La Russa led the Cardinals to nine postseason berths, three pennants and two world championships.