St. Louis — St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa likes keeping the same routine when his team is going good, and that includes his postgame news conference.
After virtually every recent home game, where the Cardinals had won 12 of 13 heading into Friday's game against San Francisco, La Russa has made certain the first question came from radio reporter Calvin May of KKID-AM of Rolla, Mo.
It's become such a standard that La Russa defended May following Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the Brewers when a television cameraman asked May to move to his left and get out of his shot. La Russa responded by moving to his right and away from the microphone.
"Don't move Calvin," La Russa said. "He's the man."
May's questions, simple and direct, serve as icebreakers for the postgame media session. Typically, he'll ask La Russa to comment on a nice effort by that game's pitcher or a big game by one of his hitters.
"He calls me the leadoff man," May said. "He says when they go on the road he misses me."
La Russa hasn't always been so nice.
Last year, La Russa shot back "You're the master of the understatement, brother," to one question. After a few games this year, he seemed to have a one-question limit with him.
Now, he's disappointed if May is not part of the post-game media crowd. May, 42, is a painter by trade but has been covering the Cardinals on a part-time basis for a dozen years.
"He's a neat guy," La Russa said. "As soon as I found out he's a good man, I've had some fun with him."
In one early July game that May missed, other reporters attempted to mimic his straight-on delivery.
"I've got to be honest, it's not the same," La Russa said to the first attempt.
When another reporter tried his hand, he shot it down also: "You're not him, either."
It doesn't hurt the tradition that the Cardinals had won 15 of the past 17 overall. Thus, May has become something of a good-luck charm.
"If we get beat, it won't be as much fun," La Russa said. "We've got something going. If we win the World Series, I'll make sure he gets a share and he has to distribute it with all the guys that cover the team, and they can take it right out of my share.
"That would be so great."