02/22/09 6:32 PM EST
Parcells latest VIP to visit Cardinals
Love of baseball, competition brings La Russa's friends out
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Parcells, like La Russa, has an obsessive drive to win.
"We were just talking about it," La Russa said. "He had [an amazing] year, historic year. And the first thing he said to me was, 'We lost in the first round [of the playoffs].' One thing we've talked about is, you get older and it's tougher to lose because you know how good a postseason appearance is. And if you get in, that postseason appearance is more precious because you don't know when the next one is coming."
Before Parcells, musician Bruce Hornsby visited Saturday. Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf has been an almost daily guest. General Hal Moore, famous from the movie "We Were Soldiers," will visit later in the spring, as will former Indiana and Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight. La Russa loves having them in camp, visiting his players and sometimes even addressing the club as a group.
"We get a real good group to visit, and they keep visiting," La Russa said. "For one thing, they enjoy the game. They really like the way the game is trained and all that. But I also think for years now, our club, our players do a real good job of welcoming those guys with respect. They like them. All these guys are really comfortable here."
They're jokingly referred to as "FOTs," a winking reference to the old term "FOBs" for friends of President Bill Clinton. But La Russa insists it's not about him -- it's about the team, and the game.
"These guys aren't following me to Arizona," La Russa said. "They're here, and it's convenient, and they like being around our club. We have a good time sharing stuff. You think Ron or Bill is going to fly to Arizona to [be an] 'FOT?' No."
Still, the manager delights in the opportunity.
"The best part of my job is the actual competition," he said. "But the neatest part is these relationships."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.