Yup, they're going to take a little trip to the National Mall, where they will climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with conservative radio host Glenn Beck, politician Sarah Palin and 20,000 of their closest Tea Partying supporters for Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally.
Nothing big, of course. Just a little quiet get-together you probably wouldn't have even known about had two of the biggest names in baseball not decided to stop by.
Oh wait, you had heard about this thing? Well then you can definitely agree with La Russa that it's bound to be a giant, apolitical koombaya fest that's not controversial in the least.
Certainly there will be Democrats and Republicans high-fiving each other when La Russa introduces the new 400 homer man as one of the rally's guests of honor.
In fact, Tony says as much himself.
"I made it clear when we were approached: I said, 'If it's political, I wouldn't even approach Albert with it.' I don't want to be there if it's political," La Russa said. [...]
"I made the point several times: What is this about?" La Russa said Thursday, noting an understanding that invitations were 'sent out across party lines, different disciplines, all kinds of stuff.
"I don't know who's going to be there, who's going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political. I think it's a really good concept, actually."
You hear that? Despite months of this rally planning creating controversy at every turn — it's scheduled for the 47th anniversary of MLK's "I Have a Dream Speech" — Tony La Russa says this party featuring two of the biggest hot-button political figures in America today will not be political in nature.
Also, he had no idea anything was amiss with his teams during the steroid era. None at all.
Look, I have no problems with ballplayers taking political stances, even if they're ones I don't agree with. I'm not going to suggest that La Russa start swinging his trusty fungo bat (especially since Beck has felt the need to capitalize his request that his followers "NOT BRING ANY SORT OF WEAPON, INCLUDING A POCKET KNIFE").
I also believe that La Russa and Pujols are probably really intending to stay "non-political" when they head down there. As a fellow parent of a child with Down Syndrome, maybe Pujols wants to talk with Palin about how his Pujols Family Foundation can better raise money for research. Maybe La Russa wants to visit with the only people in America who are more paranoid than he is. That's fine.
(And to be fair, the event's organizers are insisting that Tea Partiers leave their signs at home. Though the absence of signs does not make an event inherently non-political.)
But for La Russa to put on his bullpen jacket that allows him to be a special type of oblivious and pretend that this gathering hasn't been one of the hottest political issues of the summer is all kinds of disingenuous and annoying to the rest of us who know better.
And if he really believes what he's being told by the organizers? Well, then he's probably not as smart as he's always wanted us to think.
Now please excuse me as I take cover behind this parked car before the comments start coming in.
- Tony La Russa