Al Hrabosky's boss said the broadcaster's job isn't on the line despite harsh criticisms from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa regarding Hrabosky calling out Cards catcher Yadier Molina for not running out a pop fly.
"We don't see this as much of an issue,'' Fox Sports Midwest general manager Jack Donovan said Thursday. "Al simply called the play as he saw it. He described what he saw on the field and gave his opinion.''
But the matter still festers.
La Russa took exception to comments Hrabosky made on the air last week when he cited Molina for lollygagging after hitting a popup that was dropped, calling the move "inexcusable'' and said, "Molina did not run at all. ... I'm not saying you've got to sprint down there, but you've got to do something a little more than this. That's terrible.''
La Russa said on his KTRS (550 AM) show last weekend that Hrabosky "should be ashamed of himself" and that "I'm really disappointed in Al." And La Russa continued Thursday.
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"Look at the way Yadi plays the game,'' he told the Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss. "If you ... start accusing him of stuff he's proven over and over he's the opposite way, it's a big mistake. When you take that situation (bases loaded) it's ridiculous. It's a no-brainer. Bases loaded and he's trotting to first base with the bat in his hand. Pete Rose would have trotted to first base with the bat in his hand. Just because he is who he is, you'd better be careful of accusing this guy of being lazy. Do you sprint to first base there? That's garbage.
"They can say I'm too easy on the players,'' La Russa added. "I'm here to say these guys are playing their hearts out. So if someone thinks they're not hustling enough, they can say, 'Tony's too easy on 'em.' I really don't give a damn. I know this club hustles. I know Yadier hustles. And if it's unforgivable if once in a while some guy has a breakdown ... then someone has forgotten how this game is played."
Hrabosky, a former Cardinals pitcher, bristled at that and said he'll meet today with La Russa.
"I guess I'm going to ask him for the list of who is tired and who is hurt, so I'll know how he wants me to do my job,'' Hrabosky said. "I'm trying to take the high road. We need to have a conversation. He's entitled to his point of view, but I don't think I have to do any backtracking, and I'm not.
"It's commendable on his part to support his players, but he didn't have to take cheap shots at me,'' instead of just saying Molina wasn't 100 percent physically.
The root of the flap is that Hrabosky, whose FSM contract expires after this season, is known for being outspoken about as much as Albert Pujols is for bunting. So that's the key element that has fueled the spat - Hrabosky pointing out something negative about a Cardinal is out of character, even though the criticism is far from a Harry Caray-like blast of the home team in the 1960s when he'd rip Ken Boyer (p-aaaaaaaaaaaa-ped it up)" or the whole team ("Can't anybody do anything right around here?"). Hrabosky's view was a mild nudge compared to that.
Donovan said he hasn't talked to anyone in the Cards' organization about the flap. But he also didn't come close to calling out La Russa for berating an FSM employee for merely doing what should be his job - offering opinion.
"I understand Tony, I would expect him to stand behind Molina,'' Donovan said.
But what's wrong with criticizing someone for slacking? There should be more of that, and Hrabosky should be praised for taking a stand. His FSM partner, Dan McLaughlin, said he expects the matter to be patched up soon. "Al is paid to comment on what he sees, which he did,'' he said. "Tony is paid to win games and to an extent protect his players. Both guys are doing their jobs.
"This thing has been totally blown out of proportion. Both are professionals, they've been in this game a long time, I'm sure they'll talk and work out whatever issues are there.''
STAR POWER IN ST. LOUIS
This week's All-Star festivities were a smashing success on St. Louis television.
Nielsen Media Research reports Fox's telecast of the game Tuesday, carried on KTVI (Channel 2) was seen in 37 percent of homes in the St. Louis market. That's the best rating in the game's host city since the 2001 contest, in Seattle, generated a 38.4 rating there.
And on Monday, St. Louis drew the best rating (18.9) for any market in which viewership is measured in ESPN's 12 years of showing the Home Run Derby. To put Monday's number in perspective, it not only was far better than any Cardinals telecast this season but it was higher than any game ever in their local cable package - 14.7 for their division-clincher in 2000.
New RADIO Format Arrives NEXT WEEK
"Urban-sports talk'' makes its debut locally - and maybe nationally - on Wednesday, when WFXX replaces syndicated programming with local talk shows that have African-American hosts and changes the call letters at 1490 AM back to WESL. The station is owned by Simmons Media, which also runs sports-talk station KSLG (1380 AM). Longtime St. Louis radio host Richard "Onion'' Horton, who is well known for discussing racial issues, leads things off.
"Mornings are going to really focus on politics, everyday life more than sports, then we'll focus more on sports as the day goes on,'' 1490 general manager John Helmkamp said. "We use sports as a jumping-off point to talk about life.''
The station will drop Fox Sports Radio programming, including shows hosted by Dan Patrick and Jim Rome.
"There was no demand at all from a listenership standpoint and a revenue standpoint. Were already doing about eight times (revenue-wise) with the new format than we were doing with Fox. Local is what drives things. Having Patrick and Rome never got us on the radar.''
6-9 a.m. Richard "Onion'' Horton
9-11 a.m. Rob Desir, Robert "Moses'' Knighten
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Charlie "Tuna'' Edwards
2-4 p.m. Craig Black
4-6 p.m. Maurice Scott (with Jackie Joyner Kersee and Deneen Busby on Wednesdays.)
ATHLETICA ON TV
KPLR will televise two matches of the Athletica, the first-year local women's pro soccer team. Channel 11 has the games Saturday (4 p.m.) at Washington and Aug. 1 (7 p.m.) at home against Boston. Sean Wheelock, play-by-play voice of the MLS' Kansas City Wizards, will be in that role for both Athletica telecasts. Eric Wynalda, a longtime key player on the U.S. national team, will provide commentary Saturday and St. Louisan Bill McDermott will have that spot for the second telecast. KPLR sports director Rich Gould will conduct a 30-minute pregame show before those matches.