PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies put their varsity lineup on the field against the Cardinals on Sunday, even though they had clinched the National League East the night before, and their magic number to clinch home field was just two.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said the integrity of the game demanded his club play it out, since the Cardinals are still involved in races for the NL Central and Wild Card. It would probably benefit St. Louis to see a lineup of backup players and Triple-A callups, but that's not the way the game should be played.
"I totally agree," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said prior to his club's 5-0 win over the Phillies. "That's the right thing to do; that's the game of baseball. We want to play that team."
La Russa has, of course, been in that position several times. When playing a team that was out of contention, he could rest more players. But if the game impacts a race, he said, the manager has an obligation to play the best lineup possible.
"If you have a chance to rest guys who are sore or hurt, you do that," La Russa said. "You balance that with playing guys enough to maintain that competitive edge. You make sure guys know if they take the assignment, they compete like it's the first game of the playoffs. That's how you stay sharp. If you can't do that, if you're mentally beat, don't take the assignment."