The whiny little birds are at it again. Starting a period with a dozen games against Milwaukee over the next month and a half, the Cardinals are doing their best to divert their attention away from the game itself. Monday night it was the ribbon lighting behind homeplate and the alleged stealing of signs. Tuesday night, it was Tony La Russa’s biggest pet peeve, the up-and-in pitch.

La Russa has never objected to other teams pitching inside to back his hitters off the plate. That’s baseball. His issue isn’t with intent. It’s with location. Any pitch thrown above the shoulders is considered a violation of the La Russa code. With this difference: if it happens once, if it’s a mistake, it doesn’t mean an automatic response from the St. Louis side. But if it happens multiple times … well, let the battle begin.

Quoted directly from La Russa after yesterday’s game:

“Yeah, real scary,” La Russa said. “They almost got him [Pujols] yesterday too. There’s nothing intentional about it. But they throw the ball in here and that’s what all those idiots up there — not idiots — all those fans up there are yelling. Do you know how many bones there are in the hand? Do you know how many bones there are in the face? That’s where those pitches are. And Braun — we were trying to pitch him in too, and it was just a little stinger. I don’t want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back, when we almost lose this guy (Pujols) in several ways. The ball up and in is a dangerous pitch.”

Of course, it wasn’t the Cardinals fault Braun got hit with a pitch…they were just trying to deliever an inside message, La Russa went on to say, “If he ducks them, it’s all over and we don’t hit him.”

With the Cardinals trying to find a new sparring partner in the NL Central division this year, the Brewers Bar blog went to the trouble to Google and list some of their La Russa favorites.

When you Google “la russa upset,” you wind up with 230,000 hits.

{snip…the first and oldest item on the list}

1990: LaRussa is on the cover of Sports Illustrated as manager of the A’s. He complains about sign-stealing:

“At least three clubs in our league—Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toronto—work hard to steal signs when they have a runner on second base,” La Russa says. “And that really irritates me. O.K., if it’s an edge and the other team lets you take it, you go ahead. But if I were a pitcher and I had to deal with all the changes of signs that the other team makes necessary by stealing signs, I would not put up with the disruption of my concentration.”

He goes on to say that if he were the pitcher and he caught someone stealing signs at second, he would proceed to throw at the batter.

Read the full list, including many recent incidents with the Reds. A commenter on the blog added another nice find: that the Cardinals hotel was too far away from Fenway Park in the 2004 World Series.