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The party might be over on Sunday, which might explain why the White Sox got a head start on wrecking the place Thursday night.
Sunday is when Dave Stewart, who won 20 games in four consecutive seasons for the great Oakland A’s teams from 1988 through 1991, will get his No. 34 retired. Tony La Russa managed Stewart in Oakland, then shared a front office for an administration that could best be described as “behind the times.” He would like to be in attendance.
Under normal circumstances, La Russa would have a front-row seat because he’d be managing the White Sox.
Under these circumstances where La Russa has stepped away from managing the White Sox for reasons nobody has explained to a satisfactory degree, his plans had to be relayed through Jon Heyman.
Heyman’s column for the New York Post offered an update from La Russa’s side, but any clarity is still lacking because the White Sox refuse to issue any kind of update on the matter.
Tony La Russa “is going to be OK,” said friends, following an extensive medical checkup. Word is he’s hoping to be back managing the White Sox as early as next week after he stepped away from the team with an unspecified health issue.
La Russa is hoping to attend Dave Stewart’s No. 34 retirement ceremony in Oakland on Sunday before rejoining the White Sox. […]
Officially, the White Sox are not ready to set a return date for La Russa “at this time,” as they await more information. In La Russa’s absence, Miguel Cairo is 6-3 and drawing praise.
Cairo is now 7-3 after the White Sox’s 14-2 stomping of the Athletics Thursday night, and 7-2 when everybody in the Sox clubhouse has advance notice that he will be managing the game that day. We have no idea what the White Sox expected from Cairo since they never issued any kind of statement or support about him taking over the reins, but chances are he’s holding up his end of the bargain.
The further removed we get from La Russa’s abrupt departure, the more bits and pieces we hear from La Russa’s camp, the longer the White Sox go without any kind of reaction from the front office, and the longer White Sox players sustain this rejuvenated run, the stranger the whole thing gets.
In the day or three after the news broke, I could understand why the White Sox might want to avoid issuing any kind of declaration, especially if it involved testing for a wide range of outcomes that would necessitate a more thorough update. It was still weird that players found out about it through the team’s social media channels like you and I did, but as the relentless barrage of Roman ads on MLB.tv will tell you, people will go to great lengths to avoid discussing personal matters.
That additional update has never arrived. Hell, they’ve never issued something as rote as a “he’s fine.” Bob Nightengale said that the team announced that La Russa was seeing heart specialists, but if a team announces news and only their favored reporter hears it, did they really make a sound? No other reporter with access has received such a bulletin. Every news story I’ve seen attributes that element to USA Today, or otherwise hedges with “report” or “reported(ly).”
Now we have Heyman outlining La Russa’s plans through “friends.” At the very least, it suggests that La Russa didn’t agree to hide a dismissal behind a vague medical issue.
What’s at the other end? What’s at the very most? I don’t know, but a lot of things are in play in this organization. Perhaps the White Sox aren’t saying anything at an executive level because it doesn’t matter what they say. La Russa dictates his own terms, and he’ll come back when he’s cleared for it.
Or maybe we should expect something even worse? I have no idea, but nobody involved can really be trusted here because La Russa’s return to the White Sox began with a cover-up.
Jerry Reinsdorf hired La Russa a day after La Russa’s DUI case in Arizona was filed. When ESPN discovered the charge 10 days after La Russa’s hiring, it looked like the news blindsided more than the general public. The team’s communications department had no real plan for the news, and Nightengale later said that even Rick Hahn wasn’t aware of it, at least until he realized how bad that sounded:
We’ve seen this playbook before, so nobody can count on the White Sox doing the responsible thing. That’s an uncomfortable limbo to loiter in, especially when the team is playing its best in 2022 without him.
If the Sox’s recent surge reflects the constraints of playing under La Russa, and it’s not just a coincidentally timed hot streak that confirms so many priors, perhaps the clubhouse can leverage La Russa’s own words against him …
“You don’t want to come back [just] because you got a contract,” he said. “I would just leave if they don’t want you back.
“If they say yes, then you ask the players. You know? They should choose whom they want to manage.”
We’re to believe the Sox players can essentially fire La Russa?
“If the players don’t want you,” he said, “then you walk away.”
… but that would require La Russa to mean what he said, and a survey of everybody’s who’s managed against him would tell you how much that matters when La Russa is just trying to get what he wants.