White Sox in no rush to clarify Tony La Russa situation in any way

If this is the end of Tony La Russa’s return to the White Sox, then credit the story for completing the circle. His second tenure with the team will have begun and ended with a complete and utter lack of communication from the people above him.

It’s been two days since La Russa abruptly departed the White Sox due to a medical situation, and the White Sox still haven’t sent out an executive to address the present or immediate future of the managerial situation. The guy with the most details is Bob Nightengale, who isn’t listed in the White Sox front office even though he’s Jerry Reinsdorf’s only semi-regular link to the public.

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will be out indefinitely while undergoing tests on his heart, the club announced on Wednesday.

La Russa will fly to Phoenix on Wednesday night and is scheduled to see doctors Thursday at the Mayo Clinic.

The club didn’t announce that on Wednesday. The club announced this:

That would be fine if it were accompanied by somebody in the Sox’s leadership ranks answering questions. Rick Hahn or Kenny Williams wouldn’t necessarily have to offer details about specific ailments, but they could at least indicate the severity or timetable. Hell, they could mainly just talk about interim manager Miguel Cairo, whose presence on the bench has been largely invisible, or at least eclipsed by everything La Russa represents.

Instead, the players have had to do all the talking over three interview periods — Tuesday postgame, Wednesday pre and post — and this is what you get.

I’d sensed a little bit of La Russa-related fatigue in the media over the last week, or at least a great share of voices who were growing anti-anti-La Russa.

Here’s Paul Sullivan:

Sox fans are living La Vida La Russa, a world in which every loss is blamed on the polarizing manager and every win is done in spite of him. Even when a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder drops a foul ball and the All-Star closer promptly serves up a game-tying, ninth-inning home run, it’s La Russa’s fault.

Here’s Hawk Harrelson and Ron Kittle:

“We’ve got people in the stands that know more about the game than I do,” Harrelson noted. “They’re baseball fans. They’re White Sox fans. The thing about it is, if you can’t be optimistic then you should go to another sport rather than be pessimistic or getting on Tony’s [expletive] or whatever it may be. It’s not his fault. It’s just that simple.”

“They wanted to fire him last year. They wanted to fire him this year. They said he’s too old. The man is as smart as anybody is in baseball,” said Kittle.

And whatever you think of the messengers, it’s true that the White Sox’s flaws extend far beyond the guy in the dugout. The problem is that La Russa isn’t just a manager. From the day the White Sox abandoned what was supposed to be a real search process to appease Reinsdorf’s decades-old regret, he embodied the White Sox’s peculiar and unenviable way of conducting business. Now that it’s going about as well as it deserved to go, fans want La Russa out, and everything that led to him.

Bookending the experience is radio silence from those on Hahn’s tier. Unlike the weeks when the club wouldn’t talk about La Russa’s DUI charge, it could at least hide behind the legal process and the irregular communication patterns of the offseason.

Neither applies this time. There’s medical privacy, but that can be avoided with by citing the sensitive nature of the situation and pivoting to a Cairo-forward approach, because maybe people besides Reinsdorf were actually excited about hiring him. And Hahn’s definitely around, because he’s been photographed with La Russa on Tuesday and Cairo on Wednesday.

He’s just not talking. He hasn’t met with the media since he flogged himself for a trade deadline that only produced Jake Diekman. Maybe he isn’t keen on going back out there because Diekman has allowed 21 baserunners over his nine innings on the South Side, or because the White Sox closed out a soft August by losing 10 of their last 13. Perhaps he just wants to pretend that La Russa was never here, and he’s crossing his fingers for an upswing under Cairo that can allow him to emphasize the present and future.

I’d counter that while White Sox fans didn’t want to see La Russa hired, they also didn’t want to see him deal with these circumstances. They wanted to see the club make clear-headed, explicable decisions about the enterprise that determines their moods over the summer. Instead, they’re getting a vague health crisis and the absence of decision-making, both of which make a bad situation worse.

I’m not expecting Cairo to work miracles, and if the Sox drift all the way into irrelevance, it shouldn’t be held against him. He’s in a difficult position, especially since his bosses have yet to explain what his position is, and what’s expected of him. The White Sox are leaving everything to everybody else, hoping they’ll be too distracted filling in the individual blanks to notice the all-encompassing void.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
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.

Articles: 3794
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Exactly who I expected.


That will sure be the bump they needed to catch Cleveland and Minnesota!!


Foster and Haseley?

I’m back on board, baby!


Where is Jake Burger?
Am I missing something so obvious?


Fractured wrist

As Cirensica

Forget Burger, where is Colas?


Where he belongs


I wanted Colas since at least the ASG.
He is Cuban so listed “age” is whatever.
He has been at top of Cuban and Japan already.
The only concern was getting back to playing rhythm which seems like he has.
Obv if it were a pitcher, no way, but giving a hitter a taste is fine by me.

Right Size Wrong Shape

He played a little in the Japanese minor leagues. That’s not exactly big in Japan. I would be excited if they brought him up, but I would also expect him to struggle a lot at first.

Deep Dish Pizza

LOL….you mean like 2/3 of the team. Love that 18 mill Grandal is getting


Underwhelming, but at least we can field a run-preventing outfield if Sheets, Vaughn, and Jimenez can get us a lead. Any combination of Haseley, Engel, Robert, and Pollock would be a relief for the pitchers I’d imagine.


Thank goodness Matt Foster is back. That should help slow down the team’s descent.

Joliet Orange Sox

Yet another good Jim Margalus column.

Has anyone ever read Hawk’s take on anything and been glad they did so?

As Cirensica

Hawk defending La Russa is something I wouldn’t expect


He’s a company man to the end.


Hawk thinks sabrmetrics gets you fired, so…yeah, defending La Russa is on brand.

As Cirensica

He fired him in 1986!!!


And supported his re-hiring…in 2021!!!!!!1!!!


…and in 2020!!!!!

And attended his HOF induction in 2014!!!


You’d be amazed at all the things that have happened since 1986.


Aside from laughing at his incessant hypocrisy, no.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I thoroughly enjoyed his first autobiography.


I saw Kittle get interviewed by Channel 7 before the golf outing. He checked all the boxes of ignorance.

He referenced LaRussa’s past and ignored his present mediocre performance with the Sox as you referenced. He went on to blame the players and said all the players these days care about is being on social media.

It was the usual in my day we carried ice blocks up three flights of stairs shtick

I guess he needs to kiss up so Jerry continues to send him woodworking projects.

Last edited 3 months ago by dwjm3

Jerry Reinsdorf’s disrespect towards his employees is remarkable. The players learned about their manager’s absence through social media and the scoreboard. For all we know, Hahn and Williams are getting their updates through Bob Nightengale.

The fans in the stands are smart enough to have shifted past #FireTony to #SellTheTeam because it is clear that the same man who thought Ken Harrelson was qualified to run a baseball team in the 80s is responsible for the buffoonery of the past decade.


Not that he cares, but I wonder if Reinsdorf even realizes that his legacy is going to be one of an out-of-touch, nepotistic buffoon who went out of his way to sabotage every opportunity to operate a respectable franchise that came his way.


Pretty sure his legacy will be seven championships.


Yeah, for sure. Nothing but smooth sailing and player respect throughout that run, and it ended on the best note possible.

BTW, this is sarcasm. Reinsdorf’s handling of the best player to ever step foot on a basketball court would overshadow 70 championships.


Also, and I hate to spoil your gotcha moment, we’re talking about his legacy as owner of the Sox. Though I’d still strongly argue his legacy as the Bulls owner, despite the championships, isn’t that great either.

Last edited 3 months ago by Hulksmash
Augusto Barojas

If not for winning the lottery landing Jordan, the Bulls number of rings would be zero. And Jerry would have one championship in 8 combined decades of owning sports teams in Chicago.

That’s a bit more reflective of the kind of owner he was than giving him credit for the accolades of the best athlete in the past century. Listen to Barkley talk about what players around the league thought of Jerry. One word. Cheap.


This is the White Sox way. Just a complete and utter embarrassment at all levels. I’m very certain that Tony will not manage another game for the Sox- this was his and Jerry’s way out and saving face. Now Tony doesn’t have to resign in disgrace or have Jerry fire him. And sometime over the winter, Hahn will announce that Miguel Cairo, who led the Sox to a sterling 18-16 mark over his tenure to get them to the cherished .500 mark, dealing with the uncertainty surrounding their Hall of Famer manager person, has been pegged as the right man to lead this team to the championship that we all know is in the near future.


If you take every other reason out of the running in the argument for why La Russa should not have been manager, this is the one that always loomed. Having a manger leave the dugout for an uncertain amount of time due to health reasons does not have the same kind of hopeful spark that a firing does. It likely makes players concerned and adds another emotional weight in the back of their minds that the need to overcome while playing. This was always a possibility when hiring someone in their upper-70s as manager.


I can’t think of an organization, from the execs to alumni, that have more disdain for their fanbase than the Chicago White Sox.

I imagine it’s because the fans are the only ones who hold this team to any kind of accountability.

Augusto Barojas

I’ve always liked Hawk as an announcer, but in this case he’s being a jerk. Fans are not stupid, and it was obvious to the entire media and former players like Frank, Ozzie, and Stone that TLR had lost it completely. You can’t express an obvious truth without people getting their panties in a bunch? There is no manager living or dead that would have hit Leury 3rd for a couple games, except the Russa.

Anyway I wish him health but good riddance, and the same to anybody who would call out people for criticizing him or the fact that he never should have been hired in the first place.


Yes! My thoughts exactly.


Well said Jim. I could write a long paragraph on this but I’ll give you my short version. This is a garbage organization that will only change when Jerry goes the way of Bill Wirtz.


I was hoping for Michael to come in like Rocky did, but seems like he is only Bulls… All that is left is to hope for a sale or even a minority holder takeover even.


I’m in awe of the Sox ability to let this get progressively weirder by the minute.


It is amazing they can’t even get basic communication right.


Funny, everyone got what they wanted yet no one is happy. Typical.


I think a lot of us wanted Tony gone (fired or quit), not ill.

Last edited 3 months ago by jorgefabregas

I didn’t get what I wanted. I want a functional organization run by a competent owner. LaRussa is a small piece in this broken organization.


Yeah I wanted a real manager two years ago lol.

Augusto Barojas

It’s utterly sad that it took a heart condition for a guy who was obviously way too past his prime for the job he had. But the future of the team did get a little bit better at least, undoubtedly.

I have zero confidence we will like his replacement, but as far as I am concerned, it would be just about impossible for it not to be at least a moderate improvement. The Russa was THAT bad.


You all seem to think we’ve gotten rid of Tony, but at this point–given the staggering organizational dysfunction the Sox have displayed–I wouldn’t count out a Weekend at Bernies situation just yet.

Last edited 3 months ago by Hulksmash

The Occam’s Razor explanation for the lack of communication is that TLR and Reinsdorf are taking to each other and nobody else, so only the two of them know what is going on, and the rest of the organization – including Hahn – is in the dark.

Last edited 3 months ago by vanillablue

What makes you think Hahn still has a job?


What makes you think Jerry would fire a front office executive?


What makes you think Jerry firing a front office executive is the only way for him to lose his job?


Who else would make that decision? The Reinsdorf HR Department?


I don’t know, maybe Roland Hemond, Hawk Harrleson, Larry Himes, even Ron Schueler was handed his hat on the way out, and so was KW but then he decided he’d just refuse to leave. As to managers, Jerry has fired every manager he’s had including TLR (twice?). People have way overplayed the JR benevolent employer meme.


No people have not overplayed him clinging to front office executives. He held on to Paxson for years even though he won nothing. He has employed Hahn for ten years even though he has only been to the playoffs twice. In fact, I’ve stated on this board that he walls off his decision making along with his c-suite and puts the blame on managers.

The only point you illustrate is fired people once upon a time but essentially stopped it in the last 25 plus years.

Augusto Barojas

I would in no way make light of his situation without knowing what’s true. But some people speculated earlier this summer that rather than fire Tony, a medical excuse might be used as a means of getting him out of the dugout without firing him. Just saying.

Maybe is too cynical to believe that is what they are doing, but I do suspect that this will be used as an excuse to save face for Jerry, who as a human being has to have felt some shame this year. I cannot imagine that Tony has been enjoying himself. I mean human beings who are happy don’t look like he does in the dugout. The past couple days are probably the most relaxed he’s been in 18 months. There is absolutely no reason he would want to come back, esp with heart issues. I think we’ve seen the last of him in the dugout, almost for sure. God forbid Weekend at Bernies, LOL!


We talking the original W@B, or the sequel with the voodoo spell?


Probably less than half the team has met or exceeded expectations when on the field. I’m skeptical that a new manager will get anything more than a #3 or #6 seed out of this core group in 2023…but just like the rest of you, I’m eager to find out!

Last edited 3 months ago by soxygen

4 guys have face planted compared to expectations – Lynn, Giolito, Moncada, and Grandal. Others have been bad but within the reasonable range of expectations bad rather than bottom decile performance bad.

Greg Nix

Leury, Kelly, and Pollock have also been much worse than their career lines. A few guys who have met performance expectations (Jimenez, Robert, Anderson, Kopech) have had disaster health seasons.

I think it’s fair to say Cease, Cueto, and Abreu are the only guys fully pulling their weight.


Abreu was awful until May 24th and he’s only salvaged his avg and obp since then. I also wouldn’t call Kopech a disaster health season. For the most part he’s been healthy (only 3 less starts than Cease) and effective. Vaughn has also been for the most part healthy and effective. Not sure how you could leave Moncada out of worse than career line, I mean he’s still not north of .200.


What is inexplicable is why the players weren’t told first by the team and not Twitter.

The rest of it reminds me of the Chris Sale close encounter with the 1977 jerseys. Nobody knew why he wasn’t making the start. Guys doing security in the Stadium Club thought he’d been traded since it was the trading deadline. Then we see Matt Albers in the bullpen warming up wearing the 83 uniforms, but still no news. Then it started raining and that was that.

Deep Dish Pizza

Okay I’ll be the one who says it. Betty Ford clinic.


White Sox baseball: not recommended by doctors.

Last edited 3 months ago by StockroomSnail