Before he became famous as a mastermind himself, Tony La Russa tapped into the intellect of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver.
"He schooled me with a lesson I used the rest of my managerial career,'' the former A's manager aid.
Seaver's point to LaRussa: Not all outs are created equal. Some moments are far more important than others. La Russa evoked his long-ago Seaver conversation as his way of explaining the philosophy behind Major League Baseball's new expanded replay system. The longtime manager is one of the architects of the new system as a special consultant to MLB and the commissioner's office.
La Russa said that while with the Chicago White Sox in 1984 or '85, when he was a young manager and Seaver was in the twilight of his career, the pitcher told him he likes to keep something in reserve for a crucial moment late in the game.
La Russa laughed off the logic: "I said, 'Tom. There are 27 outs. You still have to get them all." Why would, say, the 12th out matter any more than the 20th?
Seaver, who won 311 games and three Cy Young Awards, told his manager that not all outs are created equal. He used the instance of a three-run lead in the eighth inning when the opponent has the bases loaded and two out.
"Seaver pointed out that there's a big difference between and out there versus a single that brings in two runs,'' La Russa said in a phone interview. "That out is more important than at some other part of the game. You have to be absolutely sure you get that one.
"And so many times, he's right. That's the spirit of these replays: The whole point is protecting these impactful plays."
As one of the architects of the new system, La Russa cites that philosophy in part to allay concern about slowing games down. In his meetings with managers during spring training, in his role, the Hall-of-Famer said he urged managers to use replay only for "impactful plays,'' rather than something not so significant.
"We want it to take about 1 ½ minutes,'' La Russa said. "It's going to be a fascinating process.—
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Daniel Brown at Twitter.com/mercbrownie.