White Sox injuries will continue until morale improves

Did you know that Therabody is the official recovery partner of the Chicago White Sox?

Do you think that Therabody should want people to know that?

Most White Sox highlight videos right now are preceded by the company’s 15-second ad, showing Tim Anderson (limited to 79 games this year due to groin strain, torn finger ligament) using the massage gun and Yoán Moncada (80 games, oblique strain, leg maladies) offering to return it.

Using the recovery device endorsed by the White Sox is like drinking the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ favorite whiskey. The best-case scenario is that they’ve never even opened the box.

Ironically, I came across the ad when looking for the video of Yoán Moncada flagging down Adley Rutschman’s flare to shallow left field. It was a fine effort sandwiched in between Moncada hobbling around after smothering a bunt so beautifully, and Moncada leaving the game because of hamstring tightness.

And by the end of the night, the White Sox would once again cover both ends of the injury mismanagement spectrum.

On one end, there’s Moncada exiting early despite showing the ability to still play the game effectively. On the other, you had Luis Robert trying to get his bat around on 102-mph Felix Bautista fastballs while his left hand attempts mutiny.

After the game, Robert made no attempt to disguise his discomfort.

This isn’t to say that Moncada should’ve joined Robert in toughing it out, or that he’s incapable of doing so. He played 144 games in 2021 despite being far from 100 percent most of the time, so I’m not inclined to think he’s a habitual malingerer. It could very well mean something when he leaves a game early.

But this is the third such instance of a disproportionate response to visual discomfort in the past week. The Sox had Eloy Jiménez leaving the batter’s box after one awkward twist while Leury García collapsed every other swing over the course of multiple games, following by Michael Kopech staying in the game to throw in the high-80s. The White Sox are seemingly half Glass Joes and half Black Knights, and while one is more admirable than the other, one is not meaningfully more effective.

The White Sox lack a governing body over the conditions of their bodies, which is emblematic of a greater erosion of standards. Following up on the conversation in the comments a few days ago about the fights between Tony La Russa and Jimmy Piersall, Jon Greenberg pulled out a relevant passage from a Piersall book published in 1984.

“LaRussa (sic) was so protective of his ball players that he defended (Greg) Luzinski the next day,” Piersall wrote. “No matter what, it couldn’t be a player’s fault. It was Harry or me who was the problem, he would say. He’d find some cock-and-bull excuse for his player and then rant about how we were maligning his wonderful players. Well, he said that the reason Luzinski didn’t really run it out was that his hamstring was bothering him and that he — LaRussa — had instructed Luzinski to take it easy so as not to aggravate the injury. What bullshit. A couple of innings later, when Luzinski doubled to drive in the winning run, he didn’t dog it. He ran like hell. And what kind of managing would it be to put an injured player in a game and then tell him to take it easy, don’t bother hustling? Pure unadulterated bullshit. But that’s the way it was with LaRussa, a million excuses and a hurt little boy when someone said one of his players loafed or goofed up.”

Maybe it worked with La Russa’s other teams because he was more vital in other ways. Maybe his subsequent rosters were too talented, or had established hierarchies that made his operations self-sufficient. Maybe Dave Duncan should be the Hall of Famer Baseball Person instead.

Whatever the root cause, the situation has deteriorated to the point where I can identify a favorite injury of the season. It’s Yasmani Grandal’s recent knee strain for the following reasons:

If he can return to the lineup in a reasonable amount of time and adequately share catching duties with Seby Zavala, I would like a “30 for 30” on the making of this particular miracle.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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dwjm3

One interesting thing I’ve noticed is most of the oldtimers I’ve talked to who were around for LaRussa part 1 seemed to think he sucked back then as well.

asinwreck

I like to say (with apologies to Oscar Levant) that I watched Tony La Russa manage before and after he was a genius.

HallofFrank

The White Sox owe Josh and Jim royalty checks. I’d like to know how much I, and many others like me, care about White Sox baseball in an alternate universe where there is no Sox Machine. It’s the darkest timeline, I can tell you that.

soxfan

As someone who fancies himself a bit of a writing enthusiast, I sometimes have to channel my inner-Bobby Jones when reading a Margalus piece.

“[He’s playing] a game with which I am not familiar.”

As Cirensica

La Russa managed on the PED Golden Years, so of course his players had a more resistance to getting injured. Then he went off to the NL and self-managing team with Albert Pujols.

I used to think that Tiny was good because of the numbers of wins he had can’t be the product of luck, but I am second guessing myself on this lately.

OldMMJ87

Were they? I think a lot of the guys in the steroid era were hurting themselves because they bulked up so much.

As Cirensica

One benefit of the PED is to heal faster and defy aging maladies.

soxfan

Ehhh…I’d be careful with that broad of a brush. One benefit of HGH is to heal faster and defy aging. But your standard issue testosterone or other muscle building supplement can lead to muscle damage and injury as much as added muscle mass. By the time the scientists got involved in the cream and the clear and all the other designer variants they’d probably worked it out pretty well, but the Bash Brothers were on a PED 1.0 regimen that had a lot of undesirable side effects.

itaita

So you’re saying we need to get TLR on the phone with the Tatis’ pharmacist.

soxygen

As someone who is suffering from several aging-related maladies…tell me more about these miracle drugs!

HallofFrank

The “Tony got lucky” story is revisionist history. I mean, he’s got more pennants (6) than he does full seasons with less than 80 wins (5). And it’s not like he’d just run lineups out there. He’s generally considered a paradigm-shifting, forward-thinking manager. Sure, he’s had some great players. But as we’ve seen several times, that far from guarantees success. Tony was a great manager, there’s simply no way to deny that without a lot of personal bias.

But an emphasis on was. Some combination of his age and a game that’s changed while he was gone has left him in the managerial dust. The White Sox have to win in spite of him. And they aren’t built to win in spite of him.

As Cirensica

Well said. I do suffer from recency bias at the moment. I need to wash that out. Maybe with one of them Church of Latter-Day Saints’ favorite whiskeys. Have any?

Augusto Barojas

You give any manager the A’s team that Tony got, with Ricky Henderson, Canseco, Stewart, Eck, etc, that manager is going to look great. Period. Joe Torre’s first 14 seasons had like 5 teams over .500. Then he inherits the Yankees job right when Jeter came up and the team became great, and suddenly he’s an overnight genius?

There are of course good managers. But for the most part, the merit of the roster is what determines the outcome, and whether the manager gets praise or not. The A’s had some fantastic teams, and the Cardinals are one of the best run franchises in baseball. The Cardinals have had ONE season under .500 the past 23 years, incredibly. That’s the ownership and the rosters, not the manager. Maybe he was more intelligent than I give him credit for, and was actually a decent or even a good manager at one time, I don’t know. But if he had managed the Sox his whole career, he would have one pennant if he didn’t screw up 2005, or possibly zero. Because other than ’05, the Sox never had championship caliber teams for any manager to work with because of the owner. If he managed the Sox instead of the Cardinals/A’s, suffice it to say there is pretty much zero chance anybody would ever mention the Russa and the Hall of Fame in the same sentence.

As Cirensica

The Cardinals have had ONE season under .500 the past 23 years, incredibly. 

And they employed for various years Mike Matheny.

HallofFrank

The Cards are an incredible franchise, no question. And I do think bad managers could find success with them.

One telling stat could be playoff success. TLR’s career win % is .536. In the playoffs, it’s .538—and that includes his time with the Sox! That’s… amazing. I wonder how many managers could say that? You can’t just say, “he had good teams.” It’s the playoffs. Everyone has good teams. And in the playoffs is where the manager is at his most important (whatever that level may be).

Matheny, on the other hand, predictably goes the other direction. His .555 win % under the Cards drops to .488 in the playoffs.

As Cirensica

Ozzie is above 500 manager, and maybe his W% in playoff is a good one too

HallofFrank

Yeah, but, too be fair, it’s less impressive when the sample size is that small.

upnorthsox

Yea 132 games to 16 games.

HallofFrank

You’re conflating two different questions. One is “was TLR a good manager?” and the other is “how important are managers for the team’s success?” To the first question, was TLR a good manager? Yes. It’s, frankly, silly to imply that he wasn’t. If you think he wasn’t, you need to adjust your definition of what counts as a good manager. It simply won’t do to say, “well, he had good players.” Duh. Find me a manager that consistently won without good players.

To the second question, I’m happy to grant the basic premise of this post: the impact managers have on a team is probably, in general, overrated. The Owner and GM will have more impact.

But I think it’s worth recognizing that we simply don’t know the impact. The manager’s most significant impact is probably not in lineup cards or bullpen management, but in creating an atmosphere. I don’t know exactly how that works. But I’ve worked enough jobs to know that it matters whether your boss sucks or not. I’m an adult that can do my job whether my boss sucks. But when you’re boss is an ass, it’s simply harder to do your job and your performance probably suffers. I may not be able to point to any one bad performance of mine that is my boss’s fault. But it doesn’t mean he’s not contributing to my bad performance.

OldMMJ87

This is an interesting question, I think you’re right that the impact managers have on a team is generally overrated and ESPECIALLY in today’s game. Having said that, I think there is something to be said for winning around the margins that a manager can provide in today’s game.

I think there are a lot of managers that can do a real good job over 162 games by maximizing what they get from their roster but then struggle in the playoffs because they’re not good tactical managers.

Getting back to Tony, I think he did a fairly good job last year getting the most out of a banged-up roster. I think he’s done a lousy job this year. I don’t think with another manager this is a team that is cruising to a division, but I do think another manager likely adds at least three or four wins with this roster.

To Err is Herrmann

The white whale of statistical baseball analysts is coming up with a solid, meaningful metric for managerial ability and impact, the elusive mWAR. The first person to crack this code retires as a millionaire. Or, at the least, will be remembered alongside rallymonkey, one of the pioneers.

mrridgman

Jim, you hit the nail on the head. Think about your own lives. If your workplace is unhealthy or toxic, it’s a lot easier to call in sick, or mail in your performance, than it is when the environment is exciting and promising. I imagine a lot of these guys wish the season was over today.

I’m not suggesting that this is the primary reason for the multitude of injuries, however, it’s high on the list.

BenwithVen

“Pure unadulterated bullshit” is a pretty good summary of the season thus far.

As Cirensica

How about,

“The White Sox, for people who love the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ favorite whiskey”

?

jorgefabregas

It sure seems like they messed up the chance to put Robert on the IL. Wonder if he could’ve gotten better with enough time or the doctors said he wouldn’t get better this year either way.

metasox

Maybe should not be surprising that an organization with high expectations for the first time in a while – and seeing them frittered away – doesn’t know what to do. Uncertain whether they are better off resting guys for a couple weeks or trying to push through.

jorgefabregas

His hitting stats since coming back seem fine.

But, especially yesterday, it looks bad. And you wonder if he’s making the injury worse.

Joe

This team has taken on the characteristics of their manager: Old, tired, creaky, brittle and crabby.

SocksO’Graham

Who will write the tell all book on this season? I recall Tony’s first presser after the re-hire, I was shocked at how slow he spoke and hoped he still something left. No chance. There has been nothing positive that has come out of his 2nd go around. Zero

calcetinesblancos

I definitely would have rather read the book instead of watching this garbage.

ForsterFTOG

Did anyone ask about Robert in LaRusso’s post game?

upnorthsox

Yes, he said they are going to reassess their use of him. Apparently as he hasn’t been put on the IL Hahn is fine with his play.

dwjm3

No they didn’t as there isn’t any LaRusso guy to talk to

calcetinesblancos

The Karate Kid begs to differ.

ForsterFTOG

It’s an Ode to Jimmy Piersall, Mr. Laughs.

jorgefabregas

Not healthy enough to play, but healthy enough to sub

bullrun1861

Apologies as I am probably not the typical demographic for this type of online banter having been born is 1959 but the Jimmy Piersall reference has me harkening back to the antics of, he and Harry Caray. Does anyone remember a game where Butch Wynegar of the Twins got into a dugout scuffle with possibly Kenny Landreaux? This would have to be 1979 or 1980 when they both played together in Minnesota. My foggy memory recalls that Piersall, in his high-pitched voice, says to Caray that he is leaving the booth and going downstairs to the Twins clubhouse to try and find out what the kerfuffle was about. Upon returning he gives Harry the live on-air scuttlebutt. That itself is not worthy a post. However, a long-ago friend of mine swears that Piersall was quite colorful in his description saying the fight happened because Landreaux had called Wynegar a p*ss*! Now, I remember the fight and Piersall saying he was heading to the lower level, but I cannot in good conscious say I recall he ever uttered those words. Nor can I find anything online documenting the fight much less the so-called reason for the fight. Seems absurd even for Piersall. Though, recalling Piersall’s many on-air misadventures I could only imagine it was possible.