One way to take the measure of a man is watching his ability to come back. Maybe he bounces back. More often, he may work his way back deliberately, and with variable levels of pain, and not just physical pain. The mental, the emotional pain of the struggle is as much a challenge as the physical. Frequently, more so.
THE MENTAL: In his visit to David Letterman’s set Monday evening,
Tony spoke of some key advice to his team after the shared rejoicing of a Game 6 for the ages. It was great. It’s over. On to Game 7. “Put it in a box. Start from scratch.” What Tony was saying is, a World Series is a series of worlds, all framed by a white diamond, all with a first pitch and a final play. Grown men get a fresh chance every night. Yes, a chance to come back and sometimes it’s a great challenge to come back from a victory as a loss because of exhilaration and expectations.
THE EMOTIONAL: As he spoke to Letterman, Tony gestured with a large championship ring weighting down one hand. Soon, he will have to select a finger for Ring Number 3. This from a man who signed to play the game at age 17, and, as he told Letterman, a man who is now a veteran of 50 years in professional baseball and 33 seasons as a manager. As he looks back. this man who often showed anger and frustration at failings on the field as well as nettlesome nitpickers off the field, can allow himself a smile. He expressed gratitude to Letterman for leading a team in a great baseball city like St. Louis. Most places, he told the host, stick with you whether you win or tie. St. Louis, he declared, is with its Cardinals, win or lose. As for retirement, Tony says, “It just feels like it’s time.” That talent for gut instinct has served him well, and the timing does seem opportune – again the Cardinals are world champions, thrice under his watch. May Tony, who turned 67 on Oct. 4, keep on winning in his happy new world, sustained by the certainty that his way is to come back every new day.