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Bellicheck and Larussa buddies- root for the Mets


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A meeting of the minds

Belichick hits it off with La Russa

October 13, 2006

NEW YORK -- I was shelling peanuts and hardly paying attention as Tony La Russa delivered a rambling answer to a pregame question regarding the expanded format of today's baseball playoffs.

``You know, the first year I was part of one was in 1983," stated the Cardinals manager. ``That was a real short series. Best-three-out-of-five to get to the World Series. That's the way it was. And now three-out-of-five gets you to this; four-out-of-seven, you know what I mean? It gets tougher. But, I don't know . . . It is what it is."

Whoa. It is what it is. That got my attention. Brought me back to Gillette Stadium. It is what it is is the ultimate Bill Belichick phrase. When Belichick is rightfully honored with his image on a silver dollar, It is what it is will replace E Pluribus Unum. It is the mantra of the Church of Belichick. It explains everything and it explains nothing (try it out on your wife or boss next time you're in trouble), which makes it the perfect Belichick answer.

So now we know the Cardinals manager and the Patriots coach truly are a two-man admiration society. We are in the middle of the baseball playoffs and Tony La Russa is speaking the language of Bill.

Belichick was La Russa's guest for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last night, a 2-0 Cardinals' loss to the New York Mets. Standing behind the batting cage, the two gods of game-calling talked for a solid hour while the Cardinals took batting practice. Had they been joined by pompous Phil Jackson, we'd have had a sports Yalta -- the greatest collection of coaching geniuses ever assembled -- with the obvious exception of anyplace Red Auerbach ever went.

This Belichick-La Russa bond is a friendship rooted in Belichick's insatiable intellectual curiosity. Your coach simply wants to know a lot about everything. It is one of the things that make him so good at what he does. Belichick, you might remember, once arranged to watch a surgery just so he could better understand the O.R. process (doubt he carried any Junior Mints into the operating room). He also went to prison -- as an observer -- to find out what it's like on the inside. Jon Bon Jovi has introduced Belichick to the world of rock 'n' roll, and last winter Coach Bill hung out with Pat Riley when the Heat came to Boston.

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