My skepticism about the White Sox’ decision to hire Tony La Russa as their next manager is well documented, with obvious flaws both in the person and in the ongoing decision-making process (or lack thereof). Anyway, I was trying to stay optimistic. The White Sox are still a young and happy team, full of talent and the Hall of Fame manager, let’s try to stay positive and encourage the White Sox together – that’s the mentality.
Today, almost two weeks after the official term of Tony La Russa as director, it is clear that changes need to be made. Last week Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez told us that La Russa hadn’t even contacted important members of the team.
Anderson didn’t talk to Tony La Russa: I’m still waiting for him to call me back.
– Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) 6. November 2020.
It’s a sign of his true arrogance. He joins the team with many star players who are already in the playoffs, but he clearly feels that the responsibility lies with the players to help him.
There’s one thing we haven’t learned in the two weeks he’s in office: Who’s on his management team? It has been reported that the White Sox third base coach Nick Capra will not return, but it is unclear who will replace him. So it’s fair to say that La Russa has already made more holes than it has filled. And he certainly created more questions than answers.
Rumor has it that the White Sox are interested in Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter, a promising star among pitching coaches. Instead, Fetter took his talents to Detroit to mate with A.J. Hinch. It was probably Rick Khan’s perfect match for the White Sox, but it was undermined by their owner.
Speaking of Hinche, let’s not forget he was officially hired two days after Tony La Russ. Since then, he has not only taken the perhaps best pitching coach on the market, but has also brought his entire coaching staff together to gather the thoughts of the best baseball organizations. The coach of his bank, George Lombard, has coached the Dodgers’ first base over the past five seasons. His third basic coach, Chip Hale, was the coach of the National Bank when they won the 2019 World Cup, and the list goes on.
If arrogance wasn’t even enough to help our players and not hire any coach, then we certainly had the famous straw that broke the camel’s back on Monday night when Jeff Passan reported that La Russa had been charged with drunk driving the night before the official White Sox commitment. This is related to the February incident, and although it is not clear why it took so long to sue him, it is clear that there is a serious problem.
Details are coming up, but it’s getting ugly. The last fragment of Jeff Passan’s report once again shows the sheer arrogance of La Rousse:
The White Sox fans on Twitter are blinking on Monday night and it just happened. Driving under the influence of alcohol is now a major criminal act. Today people see her for what she is: a person who ruthlessly and selfishly endangers the lives of innocent people.
Worse, this isn’t the first time people have been drunk in La Russa. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving in 2007 while running for cardinal. He then issued a statement containing the following extract:
I take full responsibility for my behavior and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that it will never happen again.
How sincere was La Russa in that statement?
At best, La Russa has made at least two bad decisions that we know of, and that alone would have made it difficult for the young team to see him as a leader, both on and off the field. Worst-case scenario, La Russ has a drinking problem he needs help with. These two events have created a terrible situation that needs to be remedied as soon as possible.
Marcus Stroman, a likely target for the White Sox this season, has essentially ruled out signing a contract with the team in the light of this latest news. He has repeatedly liked and commented on tweets acknowledging the White Sox’s hypocrisy. When asked how much money is needed to subscribe to the White Sox (on Twitter), he answered as follows:
Honestly, no money. Serenity is always the first priority.
– Markus Stroman (@STR0) 10. November 2020
Stroman is a good player who tries to point the right way. So who can blame him for shutting out the White Sox? He deserves better, and so do the White Sox fans.
The big irony, of course, is that Rick Renteria is a finalist for the Manager of the Year award and has a good chance of taking the material home tonight. It is clear that Renteria was wrong as manager in the game, and almost no one doubted that he would be fired. But building a consistent and positive culture within the club has been an undeniable strength for Renteria, and one that La Russa does not seem to be able to do. Only Jerry Rainsdorf could convince the Rick Renteria fan community.
To be clear, I’d rather write about the next steps in Louis Robert’s career, or what a healthy Ioan Moncada can do with the White Sox. But here’s the problem: It’s already become a huge distraction, and it can only get worse when La Russa votes a game solution for the first time or punishes a player for doing something he thinks is not right.
So it’s time to drop the bait and move on. There’s a precedent here: The Mets fired Carlos Beltran in the last low season before he could play for them because of news about his role in the Astro scam. That’s important because Jerry Rainsdorf has proven he can’t play a leadership role in times like these, so the ability to follow in the footsteps of another organization is something White Sox fans can hold onto.
Rainsdorf was morally opposed to the attitude of A.J. Hinch or anyone associated with the fraud scandal. It was reported that the White Sox also knew about La Russ’s alcohol and drug addiction before hiring him. So either the Rainsdorf moral code needs major changes, or the White Sox isn’t really preparing for a release. I think both could be true.
This is the kind of action that alienates the fange community and makes it unnecessarily difficult to support this team. Honestly, the White Sox are currently a disaster in the sports world and it is unpleasant to be a White Sox fan. It all starts at the top of the rankings and although as fans we have no direct control, we can certainly keep the public pressure on the team to do the right thing and fire Tony La Russa.