Tony La Russa
(AP Photo/Matt Marton)

What is Tony La Russa Doing?

The Chicago White Sox have played well this season. Led by manager Tony La Russa, they currently reside in first for the American League Central Division and with a record of 26 wins and 16 losses, only the San Francisco Giants have a better record.

La Russa, on the other hand, has not performed well at all. Hired in October, it was a total surprise that the White Sox chose the 76-year-old manager to lead their talented roster choked with prominent names like Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Jose Abreu, Yermin Mercedes, and others.

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The White Sox were up 15-4 in the ninth inning in a game against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins brought in utility man Willians Astudillo to pitch and on a 3-0 count, Yermin Mercedes took him deep.

Following the game, La Russa referred to Yermin’s decision to swing on 3-0 as “clueless” and told reporters that “there will be a consequence he has to endure here within our family.”

In response, Mercedes said, “I’m Yermin…We’re just having fun. It’s baseball.”

Not La Russa’s First Rodeo

The incident with Mercedes was not La Russa’s only gaff surrounding his tenure as White Sox manager. On November 9th, 2020, about a month before he was hired, La Russa was charged with a DUI, his second, that had occurred the previous February.

The whole situation created a mess for Chicago. Hiring a manager who appeared past his prime and out of touch with the current game was already questionable, and his arrest only added fuel to the fire. Now, La Russa is losing the locker room only a quarter of the way into the season.

It Gets Worse for La Russa

As if trying to worsen the entire situation, La Russa added this last night:

I have never seen a manager sink to this level to talk about his players. It’s absolutely absurd. La Russa is actively dispelling the claims of his own players, a strategy that does not seem conducive to winning games.

White Sox Players Support Mercedes

It did not take long for many White Sox players to voice their opinion on the whole situation. One of the most vocal players, Anderson, said later on his Instagram story “The game wasn’t over! Keep doing you big daddy!” To show his support for Mercedes.

Anderson is correct in supporting Mercedes. The White Sox were playing one of their toughest rivals in Minnesota, and no lead is ever completely safe in baseball, especially in today’s game.

Other players, such as starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, are ready to move on from the drama surrounding the event. Following their 2-1 victory over Minnesota, Giolito added in a postgame interview “No negativity. We all support Yermin. We love home runs here. That’s it. We’re going to move on.”

A New Era for Tony La Russa

A lot of disagreement exists over whether Mercedes broke any of baseball’s unwritten rules, but if a team puts a position player on the mound to lob in pitches, they should expect those pitches to get crushed.

La Russa fails to realize that this is a new era of MLB players. He’s a long-time manager with a good track record that includes a World Series with the 1989 Oakland Athletics, but he is now managing in a league where bat flips, celebrating, and on-field emotions are more common.

Winning Solves Everything, Right?

Winning can solve most issues, but winning does nothing to solve the unique issues plaguing the White Sox. The White Sox are a tremendously talented team and they did not need a La Russa-type manager to lead their roster, but the White Sox brought him on anyway to help the team win in the postseason.

Now, with a number of players expressing their disapproval of La Russa, the rest of the season is a bit of a mystery. Will owner Jerry Reinsdorf make a change or will he stay the course? Either way, all eyes will be on the White Sox and La Russa for the foreseeable future.

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