Alright, Tony La Russa’s Got To Go

Tony La Russa has used up all of the goodwill that he didn't deserve.

When the Chicago White Sox were said to be zeroing in on bringing Tony La Russa on to manage the team, the collective response was, “W…hy?” La Russa wasn’t (and isn’t) known for his ability to serve as glue in the clubhouse. The opposite is true. And although he’s one of the winningest managers in MLB history, nowadays he’s considered more dinosaur than innovator. It’s not easy to leave your job for ten years and come back without missing a beat. And La Russa hasn’t proven to be an exception to the rule.

That La Russa got an opportunity to manage the team in the first place speaks to his white privilege. That A.J. Hinch was the runner-up for the job speaks to his, too. Before La Russa had retired for ten years, he’d fallen asleep at the wheel in 2007 and was booked for driving under the influence. He wasn’t fired. In February, he was charged with a DUI again. He, obviously, wasn’t fired.

Before he signed with the White Sox, the warning signs were there. After he signed with the White Sox, the warning signs were there! Several White Sox players expressed discontent with the dismissal of Rick Renteria, which was said to be mutual, but obviously was not. Tim Anderson has admitted that he wasn’t on board with the hiring of La Russa (and effective firing of Renteria) but noted that he’d give him the benefit of the doubt: “We start at zero. He don’t know me, and I don’t know him.” To the dismay of La Russa and boomers alike, Anderson hasn’t stifled the flair that he plays with. His teammates haven’t either. Nor should they.

Now, that we’re focusing on the players’ behavior is laughable at best, and racist at worst. They’ve displayed the capability to act sportsmanlike — whatever the hell that means — and that should have never been questioned. The way that La Russa has conducted himself in the past few days is as embarrassing as a member of a baseball team possibly behave.

I’m sure I don’t need to rehash what’s happened in the past few days. But just in case you’ve been, I don’t know, on vacation or something, here’s a brief retelling of La Russagate, starting with a dinger:

You’ll notice that that’s not a typical pitcher on the mound. That’s one of baseball’s most beloved players, Willians Astudillo, pitching to one of baseball’s beloved players, Yermín Mercedes. Like many White Sox players, Astudillo is known for being a joy to watch. He’s super fun. On the mound, he’s not as fun, but he’s pretty endearing. Up 15-4, Mercedes gets a 47 mph eephus at the top of the zone, and he sends it 429 feet up and over the fence in center field.

Baseball purists and curmudgeons alike will say that it was unsportsmanlike to swing at a 3-0 pitch while up 11 runs. More reasonably-minded people might say that, of the two teams, perhaps the more unsportsmanlike act was to send out a utility player to pitch who’s throwing south of 50 mph. If Mercedes isn’t supposed to swing, perhaps the Twins should have considered not digging themselves into an 11 run deficit. Hear me out here: maybe a collective decision to have an unwritten rule wherein a player isn’t supposed to try is dumb. If the Twins are going to stop trying to win, that doesn’t mean the White Sox need to do the same. You created the mess. Now you get to sit in it.

Unwritten rule or not, managers will, for the most part, unconditionally support their players. Barring egregious acts, of course. La Russa did…not do that:

What that consequence is is unclear, but it sure seems like one consequence is to have him play the next day against the Twins; we all knew that they were going to retaliate. Given that La Russa isn’t exactly throwing his support behind Mercedes, it’s pretty fair to think that he might get thrown at, and getting hit by a pitch is a helluva thing to — in La Russa’s words — endure. He may as well give his full endorsement. And wouldn’t you have it, that’s precisely what happened:

That’s intentional. That’s a sinker, behind Mercedes at 93 mph. It’s not above the waist, which I suppose is a consolation, but a bad one, at that. You won’t find Tyler Duffey throwing at his own pitchers for giving up runs, nor will you find him throwing at his own hitters for only putting up four runs. But Mercedes, a 28-year-old rookie who’s trying to have fun and be proactive in making a decent case in arbitration, is being assailed by his own manager, and thrown at by the opposition. All for trying! Oh, the toxic masculinity.

It doesn’t end there. Dear god, it does not end there.

It wasn’t that suspicious, La Russa says. It wasn’t that obvious to him, La Russa says. He didn’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it. Not that it wasn’t already clear, but I queried all 6308 of Tyler Duffey’s pitches since 2015. Aside from an intentional walk to Victor Martinez in 2016, his pitch to (or, rather, at) Mercedes was the farthest pitch he’s thrown to his arm-side aside from an intentional walk. When only accounting for fastballs, it’s his most extreme by far.

Trevor Bauer and Alex Wood have both said that they support Mercedes swinging 3-0. Marcus Stroman said La Russa’s stuck in the past, too. Not that he had a handle on the clubhouse to begin with, but at this point, he’s completely lost control of it. His childlike antics to the media have earned quite a few disagreements from his players publically. La Russa doesn’t seem to think that there’s a rift in the White Sox clubhouse, but that is…decidedly untrue! In fact, he’s trading barbs back and forth with his own players through the media.

Here’s what Lance Lynn had to say:

And here’s what La Russa had to say in response:

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pettier, more childish response from a manager. This is a situation in which La Russa could simply reply, “No comment,” and have a discussion with Lynn privately. But he didn’t. La Russa talks about having respect for the game, and respect for his opponents, but he apparently doesn’t have any respect for his own players. That’s the bare minimum when you’re a manager of a team. And so the obvious solution is that La Russa shouldn’t be. He’s shown a penchant for suspect in-game managerial decisions, and now he’s not only not supporting his players, but attacking several of them. If he can’t do serve either role well — he’s literally forgotten extra-inning rules this year and made several other poor decisions — then what’s the point?

Most people aren’t afforded second chances. The White Sox had three chances to make the right choice. The first time was when they parted with Rick Renteria. The second time was when they signed La Russa. The third was when they held onto him after his second DUI. (And shoot, maybe the fourth was trying to cover it up.) They have the fourth (or fifth) chance to make the right choice, which is to fire La Russa. Given that they’re tied for first for the most winningest team in baseball right now, they probably won’t, but if they have even a sliver of integrity, Tony La Russa won’t be the White Sox manager in the coming days.

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)

Michael Ajeto

Michael writes about the Mariners at Lookout Landing, as well as here at Pitcher List. You can follow Michael on Twitter @dysthymikey, or you can not.

34 responses to “Alright, Tony La Russa’s Got To Go”

  1. Willie says:

    You lost me at “white privilege”.

    • moraleslevi@gmail.com says:

      That’s too bad, I enjoyed the article in it’s entirety!

    • White Privilege says:

      You were already lost to begin with, Willie. Sorry you’re so lost.

    • Entertainment Not Politics Please says:

      Same here, Willie. I stopped reading at those words. Let’s all remember Ron Washington admitted to doing coke years ago and he’s still coaching in MLB. Put race aside, it’s just a matter of breaking into the “club” much like tired actors that keep getting cast time and time again and coaches in other sports… once you’re in and have a modicum of success, you’re practically tenured for life.

      • Michael Ajeto says:

        Holy racist, Batman!

        • Luis Ramos says:

          Please explain how what the above said is anything close to racist. People nowadays reach. Saying Washington did coke is racist?

          • Jack says:

            Well, he said commenting on players’ behavior is racist at worst, too. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail, I guess.

    • posty says:

      Yeah I probably should have stopped there as well, but I wanted to continue to see what other things were said. But didn’t make it much further.

  2. shohee says:

    It’s pure cronyism. Tony La Russa is good friends with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and thats enough to give him job security. Rick Hahn (the White Sox GM) was visibly upset in the TLR intro press conference and Reinsdorf was the only one aware of TLR’s DUI (as TLR privately confided in him) and yet deliberately withheld it from literally everyone in the organization. He’s sadly not going to get fired anytime soon.

  3. BeCoolFolks says:

    Willie has a point. What in La Russa’s baseball history suggests he doesn’t “deserve” another chance? If you want to make a smoking gun of La Russa’s drinking, that’s fair. To say he got the job only because of his skin color seems a bit of a stretch. After all, Alex Cora got a managerial job again as well. As for the “Mercedes Incident” one could fairly ask why Mercedes was even in the game at that point. Certainly someone else in the dugout could have used an AB. Tony has made managerial mistakes this year to be sure. As far as I can tell he has owned up to all of them. Maybe he’ll come to view the “Mercedes Incident” as a mistake and admit as much, but if being honest in the moment is a firing offense then what is the point of ever opening one’s mouth?

    • Willie says:

      The funny part is, I clicked on the article because I generally agree on La Russa and I think he’s entirely in the wrong on the Mercedes situation. But not because he’s white at all, just because he’s a jackass.

  4. posty says:

    “11 point deficit.”
    Stopped when I got there. No reason to go on if you can’t even get the terminology correct.

  5. BP says:

    “The way that La Russa has conducted himself in the past few days is as embarrassing as a member of a baseball team possibly behave.”

    This is a league where domestic abusers, steroid abusers, sexual abusers and outright cheaters play in. La Russa being an old curmudgeon is way way way down the list. Do you know there’s a member of the White Sox staff right now that’s been accused of Rape?

    “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pettier, more childish response from a manager. This is a situation in which La Russa could simply reply, “No comment,” and have a discussion with Lynn privately. But he didn’t. La Russa talks about having respect for the game, and respect for his opponents, but he apparently doesn’t have any respect for his own players.”

    Lance Lynn could have also replied “No comment” but he didn’t.

    • sound logic says:

      Riiiiight. So, just because other people have done bad things too, that makes it okay? Strange logic..

      As far as the Lynn/La Russa situation.. as La Russa pointed out “Lance has a locker, I have an office”, and because of that you’d expect one to act like a leader & do the right thing, not fire back through media comments. Pull Lance aside and have a private conversation with him if you’re unhappy with the comments, that’s what a real leader would do.

      • BP says:

        Reread that. The comment was that this was as embarrassing as a member of a baseball team can possibly behave which is not the case. La Russa didn’t sexually assault anyone or beat a women like Aroldis Chapman or Osuna. There are no articles on this website saying those players should be fired or cut from the league. In fact, Osuna was suspended for domestic abuse and the only article relating to that on Pitcher List is how fantasy team owners can deal with it. This TLR thing is really absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. The article author is calling for the team in 1st place in MLB to fire their manager for what? For being an old man yelling at clouds.

        The amount of attention this has received is far beyond its importance.

        • LaRussa's DUI says:

          You obviously have never lost a loved one to a complete stranger who was irresponsible enough to drive drunk. This **** was hit with a DUI more than once.

        • sound logic says:

          Okay, I see your point re: “as embarrassing a member can behave”. So, I apologize for coming out the gates hot. Sure, it’s an exaggeration but I think we can all agree that the behavior can be classified as “very embarrassing”, if not “most embarrassing thing of all time”. Is it embarrassing for the manager of a first place club to be childishly fighting via the media with his team? Yes. Is it embarrassing to endorse other teams throwing at your players? Yes.

          I don’t disagree that there have been people in the game that have done much, much, much worse things that La Russa. And they should certainly be condemned for what they’ve done. But, I don’t think it is right to try and say “well, people have done worse stuff so this doesn’t really warrant attention”.

          Was the article a bit aggressive on the privilege path? Maybe. But, it doesn’t change the fact that La Russa being the skipper of this team is clearly not a fit, both from a managerial and culture standpoint. Questioning the status of the manager who is giving the okay to other teams to bean his players seems like a pretty noteworthy topic of conversation, especially given the fact that he’s been racking up DUI’s, making managerial blunders, admittedly not knowing the new rules of the game, and fighting his players thru the media.

          • BP says:

            “But, it doesn’t change the fact that La Russa being the skipper of this team is clearly not a fit, both from a managerial and culture standpoint.”
            This is where I disagree. The only criteria for judging a manager is “Is the team winning?” and if the answer is yes, then the manager is a fit. If the team goes off the rail, I’ll jump on the “FIRE TLR” bandwagon because I saw a team last season under Ricky Renteria that literally had Dallas Keuchel go up to the media and straight up say “Guys on our team are just not trying” after a losing streak. I do not see a similar lack of effort in this year’s team and the results reflect that.

  6. old man yells at cloud says:

    Great article – I find it hysterical that people comment they stopped reading or couldn’t go on further past a comment in an article. How do these people get through life? Do you think when they’re at a restaurant and see something they don’t like on the menu, they get up and leave?

    Also, just because they disagree with the ‘privilege’ factor, they start defending TLR’s childish behavior and just outright awful managing & leadership skills. Even when you factor out all of the wrongdoing of TLR, you’re left with a very old man in a clubhouse with young men who apparently have zero connection & aren’t showing any signs of wanting to make that connection. You can agree or disagree on the fact of hiring a minority or a white man for the role, but as a baseball or white sox fan, how can you really agree with the hiring/status of a man who has zero connection with his players, to the point that both sides are using the media to get into petty arguments ON TOP of the admittedly awful managerial decisions and lack of rules understanding? Say all you want, but TLR has ZERO connection with the players/clubhouse and that alone is usually enough in any sport/situation to make a change.

    • BP says:

      “How do these people get through life?”

      Could say the exact same about everyone who likes the article. You’re all wound up because TLR said a comment you disliked. That’s literally all he did.

      • old man yells at cloud says:

        Eh, I’m not really wound up over it. I just think it’s funny how people rush to defend a guy who seemingly hasn’t really done anything to warrant defense just because of a few comments about his privilege. You can see in this entire comment section how angry people are, and claiming the site is going to garbage, I just find that comical. But as I said in my previous comment, I think if you remove all the political nonsense/factors, you still end up with an old man who is struggling (at best..) to connect with his team & is endorsing other teams throwing at his players. Hire felt like a mismatch from day 1 (white sox friends I have weren’t thrilled about it at least) and I don’t really see any signs of progression. At the end of the day, they’re in first and I doubt they’ll make a change unless something drastic happens but I just wouldn’t be surprised if we see more ‘events’ like these crop up throughout the season. Will it reach a boiling point and become a distraction? Time will tell. I just know if I were a White Sox fan, I’d rather not have to worry about whether my incredible team is going to implode because of the manager, you know?

        • BP says:

          “I just think it’s funny how people rush to defend a guy who seemingly hasn’t really done anything to warrant defense just because of a few comments about his privilege. ”
          I don’t really care about the privilege comments, I find them pretty funny. My only frame of reference for judging LaRussa is how the team preforms and right now, they’re the hottest team in MLB despite losing Eloy, Abreu and Robert. People will say “TLR has nothing to do with that! It’s the players winning in spite of him” which I find amusing because at that point why do MLB teams even hire managers? Just elect a player to write a lineup card like they did in 1901 if that’s what you think is all a manager does.

  7. Luis Ramos says:

    I’m Puerto Rican so I’ve had my share of racism in life. Ironically not one involving white people. I’m so sick of woke invading everything. I appreciate this site and the work you guys do you have no idea but get woke go broke. It’s like people (espn, bleacher report, etc) can’t wait to use phrases like white privilege and lol toxic masculinity. I swear the people who talk about how much racism there is are the most racist. I grew up in NYC and still live here. If I had a nickel for the amount of times I’ve been called taco or “go wash some dishes Mexican” like being Mexican is an insult and again NONE of these have ever been said to me by a caucasian. While I do agree with you that Larussa should’ve never been hired in the first place, you could’ve said what you did without including race or any of this cancel culture privilege bs. I’ll get my info from razzball and fantasy pros.

    • Jon Smorin says:

      Amen – couldn’t possibly agree more. So sick of the woke nonsense. This could’ve been a solid article but too many writers on THIS site, and a few others do this too much. It’s toxic and garbage. FantasyPros, FantraxHQ, much better and will focus there as well. Nick is great at what he does but he has to get ahold of this nonsense ASAP

  8. fed up guest says:

    Just like Zach Hayes moronic leftist virtue signaling this past offseason, this is more of the same from Pitcher List. Nick & Alex are to blame for allowing this garbage on here. A GREAT site that is getting worse due to bringing non-existent political phrases and idiocy into these articles. La Russa got the job because he’s won everywhere he’s been, and is a good friend of the owner. Zero to do with white privilege. Shame on Nick & Alex for allowing this garbage. Stop with the virtue signaling and be better. The Sox have faced a ton of adversity this season injury wise and yet they’re playing great baseball. You want to write an article about the old unwritten rules going away? Fine, but this isn’t that. What a disgusting article – but par for the course for most of the baseball writers now who only know how to virtue signal, falsely accuse, and emotionally & falsely say RACIST! to everything. Pathetic.

  9. Bernardo says:

    I’m not sure why people are so mad about the article. This is not an SP Roundup, Batter’s Box, or SP/RP ranking. This is clearly an opinion article. The title insinuates that. For all the criticism on some of the words used in the article, or disappointment pointed at Nick & Alex, I just can’t understand why people just don’t go to another article or stay away from opinion articles. Why bother reading something if it’s going to dampen your mood? As for the point of the article, I think most people were surprised with TLR hiring. He’s an old manager tasked with managing one of the younger, most diverse teams in MLB. This was not going to end well. There is so much talent in this team that they are still in first even after losing two of their best players. But we are only through a quarter of the season so far.

    • Willie says:

      I had no idea it was going to dampen my mood. I clicked on it because I think La Russa is washed up too! And then I read the buzzwords. I’m not really sad or mad about anything he said, just disappointed so many people deal in such simplistic thinking.

  10. Sean says:

    Here are my thoughts: Yerman should absolutely swing and I don’t really have an issue with a manager wanting to educate a young kid on sportsmanship. Sure they didn’t see eye to eye and the team (rightfully) took Yerman’s back. But here’s the most important thing: The White Sox players and managers have one job: To Win.

    In an article effectively calling for the Managers’ head, shouldn’t we focus a bit more on the *facts*? And the *facts* are:

    The White Sox have a .619 winning percentage right now. They’ve only had three complete seasons above that number: From 1917 to 1920. So the White Sox are performing at a level they have not performed at in over a century. In 1906 and 2005 they were over .611, the 5th and 6th best years ever (with this year being #4): They won WS Rings those years.

    So maybe he’s rubbing people the wrong way. But they lead the league in OPS+ and ERA.

    The early *managerial* complaint about La Russa was that he wasn’t playing Andrew Vaughn enough. Fair, from the outside, as we all wanted to see a ton of ABs from Vaughn. But Vaughn has a .688 OPS, lowest of their starters. He’s even lower than Zack Collins and Danny Mendick off the bench. So he’s pushing the *right* buttons for his team even if they are the *wrong* buttons for the media.

    • BP says:

      Not to mention after the last game, Jake Lamb has a higher OPS than Vaughn and was part of the reason the Sox managed to grab the W last night versus the Twins. Not an indictment of Vaughn, he’s preforming pretty well for a guy asked to play LF for the first time and only has High A ball on his resume but you’d think Lamb was Edwin Encarnacion levels of bad for the Sox judging from the reaction whenever he plays.

  11. blueberry cobbler says:

    not a fan of TLR hire, but seems like cronyism/nepotism not “white privilege” . But then again everything is because of racism to this writer.

  12. Anon says:

    The fact that the author thinks La Russa got his job because of white privilege is absurd. If you want to relate it to a DUI then that makes sense. This author tends to scream racism whenever possible, just look at the comment section and his interactions on Twitter. It’s a shame because by doing so he is taking away from actual racism. Kind of surprised parts of this article were allowed to be published.

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