I will not bore you with the history of why a Red Sox fan is about to talk about the A’s. Suffice it to say it would be confusing for the point of this blog post. I will thus get to the point.
Tony LaRussa’s entire career has been carefully orchestrated to exact revenge on Kirk Gibson by firing him from the Diamondbacks. Let me explain.
It is 1988. Tony LaRussa is the A’s skipper. I’m seven years old, watching my beloved A’s on my Grandma’s TV in Lafayette, California. As an A’s and 49ers fan in my childhood I only knew victory at a young age of sports fandom, which I am sure leads to some sort of adult dysfunction. Anyways, Dennis Eckersley is closing Game 1 of the A’s Dodgers World Series game. “Eck” for those not in the know is probably second only to Mariano Rivera as far as best closers in the history of the game. The A’s are up, 4-3. Bottom of the 9th, two out. Man on. Gibson, hobbled and gimpy, is sent to pinch hit. This is unexpected because he hurt both legs in the NLCS and was not supposed to play in the Series at all. Eck goes up 0-2 on him. It is game over, in my sweet, innocent child brain. My poor, naive brain.
Ball 1. Ball 2. Ball 3. Gibson steps out of the box. Drama, like only baseball can deliver. Eck delivers the next pitch.
Gibson sends it out of the park over the right field fence of Chavez Ravine. Dodgers walk off, 5-4. My poor 7 year old self is introduced to the uniquely stunning and brutal reality of defeat that only a 9th inning walk off can deliver. Twisting the knife, Gibson proceeds to trot around the bases pumping his fist, and so begins decades of agony of seeing that clip again and again and again and again. I to this day cannot watch it, but here it is anyway.
I Thought This Was About Tony LaRussa.
Yes I know. Anyway, this totally sucked. It was devastating. The A’s went on to lose this series 4-1. They famously won the Battle of the Bay the next year but lost again to the Reds in 1990. That home run has never been forgotten by A’s fans or by Tony LaRussa though. Ever. So although some of you think Tony LaRussa’s Hall of Fame managerial career has been motivated by his desire to be a successful baseball mind and win world series rings and be around the game he loves on a daily basis, you are wrong. No my friends. This has all been a long, Keyser Soze-esque play to fire Kirk Fucking Gibson and his fist pumping ass.
Don’t believe me? When asked about the homerun recently, LaRussa remarked “Every time I see him, I have to overcome that memory…. It would bring such great joy to give him that pink slip. Because they play that dang replay all the time…” Watch that video and look at the pain in that face! He wants to do this so bad. It still hurts. I was seven, I was a little snot nosed kid just sitting on the floor watching the game. The A’s are not even my favorite team anymore and it still pains me to see it. He was a grown man, a manager standing there watching this guy beat him in a walk off of the first world series game, a series he would eventually lose. It was crushing. And now, LaRussa can finish the circle. He can end the loop. He can fire Gibson. You know it will happen, it is inevitable. I am amazed any sportswriter thinks Gibson will have a job with the Diamondbacks come April 1, 2015.
It is revenge, served very very cold.