"Well, that's what you believe and you're probably right according to testimony, but that's not what I believe," La Russa said. "I watched Mark McGwire work."Despite the clear statement from La Russa that he thinks McGwire was clean, I can't help but think he's jerking Burwell around a bit here. La Russa isn't your average dummy. He's a lawyer -- a different kind of dummy altogether, but one with some reasoning ability -- and part of me thinks that he's playing some lawyerly games.
I interrupted him.
"Wait a minute, Tony. You still don't believe McGwire used performance-enhancing drugs?"
"Absolutely not," he said. "If you see Mark today, he still looks like he did then."
"No, he doesn't," I said.
"Yes, he does," La Russa said.
"No, he doesn't," I repeated.
La Russa tossed his hands in the air and looked at me in frustration. "Are you asking for my opinion or yours?" he said.
Not your typical language parsing, really -- he is pretty clear in what he says -- but more in terms of suckering his interviewer a bit. Maybe it didn't work out the way he wanted to, but I get the sense that he was trying to goad Burwell into making a claim about McGwire that isn't supported by the record (like a positive test or something) at which point La Russa could pounce and accuse him of falling prey to a witch hunt mentality or something.
Maybe I'm just projecting here. I mean, I'd certainly mess with reporters if they ever let me in the managers' chair, and this would be one way to do it. But, really, who knows? Maybe La Russa is simply that loyal to McGwire. Or that blind. Or both.