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It was the 4th of July last year, and I was waking up bright and early at 1 p.m. in Las Vegas...fresh off of surviving 12 hours of playing poker in Day 1 of the World Series of Poker.


By the time I got out of bed, I had a bunch of congratulatory messages...including one from Jim Edmonds. And, then I noticed there were a few more from Edmonds.


The texts that started out about the World Series of Poker had gotten to, "Where the hell are you?" "Are you not up yet?" "What the hell are you doing?"


Usually those were the kinds of texts I'd send Edmonds to try and get him to come
on The ITD Morning After.


But, the roles were reversed on July 4th, 2008.


He was nervous, and he wanted to spend some nervous energy by talking with someone...obviously...anyone.


July 4th, 2008 was his first night returning to St. Louis since leaving the Cardinals via trade in the offseason. Normally, a former Cardinal star's return to Busch Stadium is the equivalent to a band coming out for an encore.


But, in this case, it was different.


Edmonds was coming back as a Cub.


And, he was worried he was going to get booed.


I recall exchanging texts with him telling him he had nothing to worry about, but I could tell that wasn't helping him. He loved St. Louis, and the fear of being booed by "his" fans was taking its toll on him.


But, the nervous energy that led him to anxiously text hungover, half-assed sports talk radio hosts in Las Vegas was gone by 4 p.m. All the attention had gone from fear of the fans' reaction to the stunning words of one man: his former manager.


Tony La Russa gave Edmonds the biggest surprise he'd given him since starting him against a left-handed pitcher.


La Russa dropped a bomb in his pre-game press conference. When asked about Edmonds' comments in which he asked the Chicago media to stop asking him about his time as a Cardinal so he could focus on his new career as a Cub, La Russa, perhaps in some textbook Tony gamesmanship let loose:


(From the July 5, 2008 AP)

"I think we ought to follow his lead," La Russa said. "His quote was roughly, within a
couple of words, 'I've had enough of people asking me about the Cardinals. I'm a Cub now.'

"So I would treat him like he never played here. I would wait until the end of his career and I would remember he was a Cardinal. I would ignore the fact that he was ever here (for now) because that's what he wants. I would honor his request. Forget the Cardinal days until his career is over."



In two separate group interviews, Edmonds called La Russa's comments "asinine" and "ridiculous," and at one point called him a derogatory name.


Edmonds was furious.


A man he had privately considered a father figure had chosen Jedi mind tricks over allowing one of his former stars to have that famous Cardinal homecoming. And, Edmonds wasn't going to let Tony forget it. A few weeks later, when Edmonds hit a home run against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, he flipped his bat directly at the visiting team's dugout and gave "someone" a stare.


It didn't calm down in the offseason.


Edmonds was so upset seven months later that he said earlier this year on The ITD Morning After that he never planned to speak to La Russa again. And, despite being around the ballpark a number of times this year, Edmonds and La Russa hadn't said a word to each other.


Until Saturday night.


Away from the ballpark.


But, in front of dozens of former teammates.


In a moment that those who were there say they'll never forget---not just because of the starpower involved in a public reconciliation...but because of how quiet the room got when it happened---Tony La Russa showed up by himself at the celebration of Jim Edmonds' F15teen Steakhouse And Lounge's Second Anniversary.


Numerous Cardinals and Cubs were on hand at 19th and Locust downtown to enjoy F15teen's delicious steaks and toast their former teammate's business success. Standing at the entrance of the restaurant were Cub pitcher Ted Lilly and Cardinal third baseman Mark De Rosa. The former teammates were engaged in a conversation when La Russa, carrying a bottle of wine, walked in. Both players, knowing the recent history of the manager and the proprietor of F15teen, looked shocked.


Tony greeted Lilly and De Rosa, and then he asked where Edmonds was. The ballplayers pointed in Edmonds' direction, and Tony made his way over to his former player.


Edmonds, with his back turned and in a conversation with Troy Glaus, received a tap on the shoulder, and to his surprise, turned around to see La Russa extending his hand.


The details of the conversation were private, and while Edmonds did confirm that the meeting took place, he didn't want to be quoted. However, those who were close to the two for this awkward yet happily-ever-after moment in Cardinal history said La
Russa handed the bottle of wine to Edmonds, congratulated him on F15teen's second anniversary, and essentially apologized.


One of the patrons who confirmed this story said La Russa appeared to get emotional as he talked to Edmonds for the first time in nearly 20 months. Edmonds invited La Russa to stay for dinner, but Tony said he had a previous engagement in Clayton that he had to get to. He said he just wanted to stop by and "make things right."


With that, La Russa shook Edmonds' hand and walked out.


With that, Jim Edmonds' St. Louis baseball career ended properly.


And, with that, Tony La Russa had just made his best---and most difficult---move as Cardinal manager.


Log-in to post your comments, or you can email me at tmckernan@insidestl.com.

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luchetti03
# luchetti03
Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:08 AM
Great story. Always been a fan of and respected both guys! Thanks for the insight!
kopper
# kopper
Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:13 AM
What's next? He apologizes to Ozzie?
Uncle Jesse
# Uncle Jesse
Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:22 AM
Apologize to ozzie for what? Not playing him when he sucked?
s
# s
Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:29 AM
Awwww TEAR!!
ta
# ta
Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:08 AM
Not a fan of TLR, but this indeed was a nice move on his part. Too bad it took so long.
Hobb1728
# Hobb1728
Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:11 PM
Would you just f*** Edmonds already McKernan so we can quit hearing about him?
STLMojo
# STLMojo
Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:22 PM
First of all, good job Tim on the simple, yet accurate, re-telling of what happened last year. Most media outlets don't spell it out as well without putting their own spin on it.

It's odd to me that Tony is now being lauded for doing exactly what he said he would do: "I would wait until the end of his career and I would remember he was a Cardinal... Forget the Cardinal days until his career is over." People were mad that he said these things, but they're not mad that he did these things?

Tony overreacted to Jimmy's comments, but Jimmy overreacted to Tony's comments, as well - much to the delight of the media who stirred the entire controversy from the beginning. The media ran back and forth between the two parties like gossiping schoolgirls until they got the right quotes to escalate the reactions.

In the end, Tony made it right - just like he promised to do all along.
The Drake
# The Drake
Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:29 PM
Uncle Jesse-- You are apparently too stupid to live. You say Ozzie sucked?

In the one year LaRussa and Ozzie were together in STL (1996) - Ozzie batted .282 with a .358 OBP. He struck out only 9 times all year. Ozzie had a terrific year when La Russa played him, and he was our best leadoff hitter that year.

His replacement Royce Clayton. hit .277, with only a .321 OBP as a lead-off hitter. Absolutley pathetic. Royce also struck out three times as much as he walked that year.

He also made twice as many errors as Ozzie in 96.

So, now that you've been taklen to the woodshed and proven to be a complete an utter jackoff, do you have any other incorrect balnket statements you'd like me to correct for you?
jozzie
# jozzie
Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:38 PM
is this a joke? I am a fan of Jimmy Ballgame, but LaRussa should of handed him a wine spritzer and told him to stop pouting. Seriously, after hearing this story, I would put money on LaRussa in a fight.
jozzie
# jozzie
Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:38 PM
is this a joke? I am a fan of Jimmy Ballgame, but LaRussa should of handed him a wine spritzer and told him to stop pouting. Seriously, after hearing this story, I would put money on LaRussa in a fight.
chippb6
# chippb6
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:12 PM
TheDrake,

Im not so sure "absolutely pathetic" is a good way to describe Clayton's 1996 as compared to Ozzie's. .277 over 531 PAs vs .282 over 261 PAs. Also, Ozzie had played 98 games in 1994 and in 1995 he played 44 games and hit .199. Let's face it, he was a broken down 40 y/o SS at that point.
I think LaRussa should be celebrated for allowing Ozzie to not be overexposed in 1996 and have a strong season to ride off into the sunset on.
Maybe the words LaRussa used in spring of '96 could have been better chosen, but the fact is Ozzie hadnt been able to hold up for a full season in two years.
You mention Clayton had more errors in '96. Yet, you fail to mention Clayton had the higher fielding pct.
By no means was Royce Clayton a superstar that year, but his presence allowed Ozzie to have a shining year at the end after he struggled and limped the previous two years. The team made the post-season and came one game from the WS. Ozzie should have been thrilled to go out that way. Instead, his ego led him to TRY to choose himself over the team. Most teams release fading superstars who choose themselves over the team, but LaRussa found a way to fit Ozzie in as a very important member of a winning team.
I know this discussion would be better served in another forum, but Drake you didnt remotely take anyone to the woodshed.
The Drake
# The Drake
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:49 PM
First off, I said Clayton's OBPCT was absolutely pathetic. And .321 is almost as bad as it gets for a lead-off hitter.

Secondly, i find it interesting that you credit LaRussa for Ozzie's successful 1996 season, something that has ZERO tangiable proof. Typical of a LaRussa dick sucker, which you obviously are. Which, also proves that you know nothing about the game of baseball.

Ozzie had a great 1996, because he was a fucking hall-of-fame shortstop and a great player. LaRussa had nothing to do with it.

ozzie was a hall-of-famer before anyone had even heard of fucking Tony LaRussa.

I bet that Pujols is only great b/c of the way LaRussa plays him. is that your warped and twisted game?
thefork
# thefork
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:49 PM
Yet more evidence that this is possibly LaRussa's last year in St. Louis.
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