I wasn’t planning to start this series until next week, but when Christmas comes in May, you have to take notice. When every normal person absolutely sees a train barreling down a bus full of kindergartners coming and the only person that could stop it is tied to railroad tracks, Snidely Whiplash style. The baseball equivalent of Old Man Yells at Cloud was not only returning to Major League Baseball, he was taking over a team that had a diverse group of big personalities that are redefining how to play the game with fun and joy.
Tony LaRussa needs to chill the fuck out.
For those that don’t remember this hilariously misguided disaster of the dumbest possible timeline in the dumbest possible universe, while operating under a mythical rule set popularized before minorities were allowed to play the very game that will inevitably be destroyed by the very same joyless gate keepers that aren’t dying off quickly enough in spite of their own alcoholic proclivities, then let’s look back from the beginning.
At the end of the 2020 season, a season that was as unpredictable as it was condensed, the White Sox were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs by the Oakland Athletics. For most, the season would be considered a success for the White Sox. Lucas Giolito proved his 2019 was no fluke. Eloy Jimenez was bashing home runs when he wasn’t crashing headlong into outfield walls. Luis Robert debuted to fanfare. Jose Abreu was the damn MVP award!
In the end though, manager RIcky Renteria was jettisoned because there were questions about his in game tactics and ability to manage a pitching staff, specifically, a relief pitching staff. For a team looking to make a jump to the next level, they had a number of options for coaches that could have come in and harnessed a potentially great team. General Manager Rick Hahn, the architect of a burgeoning powerhouse team, had an opportunity to bring in any number of coaches to put the team over the top.
Instead, owner Jerry Reinsdorf, better known as The Penguin in Batman Returns, decided to remedy a perceived decades old wrong, pulled Tony LaRussa out of the drunk tank (almost literally), and named the 76 year old has been the new manager of the White Sox.
After the White Sox were eliminated from playoffs, rumors started that Reinsdorf was planning to let Tony LaRussa interview for the manager’s role of the team. This spits in the face of many things. Notably: modern baseball, modern baseball rules, common sense, the composition of your team, and numerous other things that anyone who had thoughts in their head knew to say “hey, this is a bad idea.” At it’s core, it was a bad idea because baseball had changed so much in the decade he had fucked off into retirement.
Also, LaRussa had gotten a DUI that the White Sox knew about and tried to cover up the fact that they knew about it. OH, and Tony LaRussa was notably anti-kneeling and was joining a team whose favorite player amongst fans was Tim Anderson, a person who has been a vocal leader in social rights movements across the country.
The only person who was actively in favor of the signing was Bob Nightengale, a man who sold out his credibility to such a notable level, that he is the least liked person in every clubhouse outside of St. Louis. Bob Nightengale is so bereft of any kind of societal cache, that he might lead all professional sports writers in parody accounts devoted exclusively to making fun of how bad he is at his job. When he is the only person defending a decision, it’s a horrible, horrible, horrible idea to sign that person.
Did I mention that the team knew he got a DUI, and tried to pull the old “you know who I am?” card on the arresting officer? I did? Well, it’s worth mentioning again.
What has happened since the season started? By all accounts, he has cost the team three games this season. Once by bad bullpen management (his supposed specialty), one by not knowing his pitching staff and leaving a starter in too long, and lost a game because he didn’t know the written rules of extra innings. LaRussa also has made some absolutely baffling lineup decisions, and is very obviously benching young players with high upside who need at bats for veterans who play the “right” way.
In spite of all of this, the White Sox are arguably the best team in the American League. Their offense continues to mash, in spite of injuries all over the field. The bullpen is good when LaRussa isn’t asked to make complex decisions. It would stand to reason that this team would be one of the best, if not the best, teams in baseball with nearly everyone running it.
But then LaRussa went and started being the complete and utter jerkoff we all knew he could, and inevitably would be.
On Monday night, in the dying minutes of an ass kicking that the White Sox were administering to the Twins, the Twins threw out the white flag. They acknowledged that they had lost. They did so by having Willians Astudillo, the corpulent backup catcher nicknamed Tortuga, to come in and pitch to finish off the game. It’s worth noting that Astudillo pitches just barely faster than myself, a beer league softball pitcher.
Yermin Mercedes was due up third in the inning. After watching three consecutive balls thrown, Tortuga threw one that looked like it would end up in the strike zone, and Mercedes hit the ball hard enough that most southern states would call it capital punishment. The game ended soon after, but long before the controversy would end.
For those of you who are blissfully unaware, because you watch more fun sports, baseball in the past existed under a set of unwritten rules. They are unwritten rules, because they aren’t real. They exist from an era when you were to show complete respect to your opponent. The era didn’t respect minorities, but that’s a story for another day (baseball has a psycho racist history that most baseball historians choose to ignore).
The unwritten rules of baseball are an archaic thing that shouldn’t exist anymore. The fact that they do is one of the reasons nobody watches baseball anymore and it is in a distant third place in popularity behind the NFL and NBA, leagues that allow their players to express themselves. Off the top of my head, here are some of the unwritten rules of baseball.
Never show up a pitcher after you hit a home run.
Never bunt for a single to break up a potential no hitter.
Don’t steal bases if your team is ahead.
If it’s thought that your pitcher threw at someone, the opposing team is required to try to hit someone on that team.
Just boiler plate horseshit. Mercedes broke the unwritten rule that you should never swing at a 3-0 pitch in a blowout. Again, total horseshit. People like Tony LaRussa don’t want baseball to be fun. They don’t want players to express themselves. They don’t want joy in the game. They want the game their way because that’s how it was when they were young. They refuse to evolve.
And to be sure, LaRussa isn’t alone. Noted washed up outfielder for the Sox, Adam Eaton, probably subscribes to this theory. He is a noted red ass who thinks that you have to play the game 100 percent at literally all times and that if you hit a ball, you put your eyes down and run, or something blatantly stupid. They are fun vacuums whose only goal is to take everything that could remotely be considered joyful out of the game. They suck and need to fall into a Sarlaac pit, though I suspect LaRussa’s blood alcohol content would be enough to kill half of Tatooine, let enough a single sand monster.
For the sake of wiping the shit filled pants of Sox fans screaming about it, LaRussa did give the take sign for Mercedes. He ignored it, and hit a mammoth bomb off, and I’ll say it again because it is worth nothing, a rotund backup catcher on a team that had given up for the night. The fact that LaRussa was even conscious at that point is stunning.
Not only was he awake, he was indignant. Yermin had broken the unwritten rules of baseballl! How could he? The sanctity of the game was at stake. It lived and died by what happened as a result of a late inning at bat by a journeyman in the midst of a breakout season who was batting against, and i’m going to say it for a third time because it merits it, THE BACKUP CATCHER WHO WAS NICKNAMED TORTUGA BECAUSE OF HIS SPEED.
Tony LaRussa has now spent the past two days throwing his own player under the bus. He justified the Twins throwing at Mercedes in the next game, and they did. He kept using the tone deaf defense that it would be okay if Mercedes homered on a 3-1 count. He has been steadfast in the fact that the Twins are the team he should be protecting, not his own. He then said that everyone in the clubhouse thought he was correct. That, of course, is not correct. Mercedes didn’t agree. Tim Anderson didn’t agree. Starter Lance Lynn didn’t agree. Surely more players in that locker room are siding with Mercedes.
In the case of Lynn, he defended Mercedes, and Larussa responded to it by saying, in essence, that Lynn’s opinion didn’t matter because LaRussa was the manager, and he was not. That’s some damn fine team alienating there. Damn fine.
More importantly, LaRussa has turned one of the best teams in baseball into a national laughingstock. A quick scroll of Twitter shows that both local journalists and national journalists mocking the team for their geriatric manager making a fool of himself and his team. What is supposed to be one of the most fun teams in all of baseball is better known right now as the team with the drunken dipshit of a coach advocating for other teams to throw at his players.
This team can still win the World Series this year. With a functional coach, that’s probably the main narrative of this team right now. Instead, LaRussa couldn’t even make it to Memorial Day before showing how worthless he is to modern day baseball. This, of course, is all Jerry Reinsdorf’s fault. He was trying to fix the fact that Tony was fired by the White Sox back in the day before going on to a hall of game career coaching noted steroid users Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, and later becoming a beloved icon for one of the most racist fan bases in all of baseball (St. Louis).
Right now, Rick Hahn is sitting in his office, beleaguered by a mess that he had nothing to do with. He needs a drink. Good thing his coach loves to do that exact thing. I just wouldn’t recommend having him drive afterwards.