Between innings at Busch Stadium, the bench is a beehive of activity. At any moment, the St. Louis Cardinals' true cleanup man will get busy.
Like clockwork, he swings into action. Manager Tony La Russa, the guy No. 4 hitter Scott Rolen calls the "street sweeper," starts to stroll toward the far end of the dugout with a purpose.
His mission? Stomp every paper cup in his path and then slowly nudge them soccer-style with the side of his foot toward the tunnel leading to the locker room.
Sometimes he finds a couple thrown by players. Other times, a dozen. La Russa follows the same pattern, and they end up crushed and out of sight.
"I've never seen anything like it," Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan said. "But we all have our own little quirks, and that's his."
Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone rocks back and forth while watching ballgames. Texas manager Buck Showalter bundles up in a jacket even in summertime heat. Reliever Turk Wendell would brush his teeth each time he got the third out.
La Russa laughs at his odd habit. It's not a nervous tick -- he did it way before Boston led St. Louis 2-0 in the World Series going into Game 3 on Tuesday night.
"I mean, it's so atypical of me," he said last week during the NL Championship Series. "Look around my office here. There's clutter everywhere. So it's not like I'm some ultra-neat person."
Sure enough, there are stacks of letters littering his desk, bats piled up and boxes of stuff scattered all over. Pretty messy, really.
"It's just something that happened over time, something I do in between innings," he said. "You spend a lot of time in the dugout, and I like to stand up. It's my way of keeping busy, looking for those cups."
No such cleanup guy on the ragamuffin Red Sox.
"We give our players personal freedom to express themselves here," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "And I think our players play better that way. I'm not saying it's better or worse to do it that way. It depends on the mix of personalities you have."
Asked about his clean-cut appearance, the 30-year-old Epstein smiled.
"Don't be fooled by looks. You don't see me at night," he said.
La Russa's little show is on display day and night.
He could easily get a clubhouse boy to dispose of the green cups that wind up on the wooden-slat floor -- no telling how many hit the ground by game's end. There's a plastic-lined trash can in the middle of the dugout, and not many teams have that.
La Russa prefers to do it himself, home or road.
"Oh, we have fun with him," outfielder Reggie Sanders said. "We'll wait for him to go by, then throw one on the floor. But he always gets them on his way back.
"I'll tell you this," said Sanders, playing for his seventh big-league team in seven years, "he has the cleanest dugout I've ever seen."
Said La Russa: "I know those guys play with me."
Most dugouts are flat-out gross by the final out. Players routinely spit sunflower seeds and tobacco juice, toss cups and spill bottles of water.
With the Cardinals, it's noticeably neater. When La Russa's around, that is.
In early June, he was suspended for two games after a shouting match with Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon. The Cardinals could tell the difference during those days.
"It was very messy because he's always the street sweeper," Rolen said at the time. "He takes all the cups and sweeps the street."
During the NLCS, hitting coach Mitchell Page said the Cardinals still joked about La Russa's absence.
"It was the filthiest dugout I can remember," he said. "It was the most disgusting it was all year. Cups all over. We needed him back, just to clean up."
For another reason, too.
"When he's here, I crush my cups and try to throw them in the trash can. But I don't worry about missing," he said, "because I know Tony will get them."