Tony La Russa offers hints about return; White Sox still offering nothing

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.

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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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soxfan

As neat of an addition by subtraction story it would be to attribute the hot streak to La Russia’s absence I strongly suspect it’s a “coincidentally timed hot streak that confirms so many priors.”

That said, if it’s not? What an effing indictment of La Russa and Reinsdorf and all of their enablers.

As Cirensica

Why not both? A bit of a coincidence, and a bit of addition of subtraction.

To Err is Herrmann

As a lifelong White Sox fan, there is no way out for me. No matter what kind of train wreck Jerry et al create, I will watch it and think about it and care about it. However, in the past I might have distanced myself more from the disappointment and dysfunction of this season were it not for one thing: I find the writing and analyses of baseball writer Jim Margalus so interesting and entertaining I keep coming back here. His chronicle of this year is really good stuff. I sometimes wish he was a worse writer so I could put more distance between me and Jerry, Rick and Tony. Does anyone else share in this dilemma?

ParisSox

Yes

madridsox

Absolutely

JimMargalusBiggestFan

I wouldn’t bet against him being inebriated before the game he left. Perhaps people smelled it and he took a leave. Nothing would surprise me.

Willardmarshall

Alas, conceivable….

WestEddy

I don’t like when people just throw this stuff around, but this makes a lot of sense, when you consider the incidents of weird decisions, delayed reactions, seemingly ‘resting his eyes’ in the dugout. That could be pretty demotivating for the team.

BenwithVen

That DUI story is incredible. If there was any doubt about La Russa only answering to Reinsdorf, that bit of info should erase whatever doubts are left.

calcetinesblancos

Honestly, it really makes it seem like Jerry is losing it. I don’t think anyone of sound mind does that.

calcetinesblancos

Tony’s health has nothing to do with how bad he was before his leave of absence. If the guy is so old and frail that nobody can criticize him without feeling guilty, then hiring him was an obscene mistake and it should have never been allowed to happen. You take the job, you take the heat. Simple as that.

(312) 674-1000.

Last edited 14 days ago by calcetinesblancos
steelydan52

Let’s say all this is true. Jerry went after Tony and from what I’ve read and heard he went hard. It took Tony a little time but accepted the job. That’s on Reinsdorf but Tony could have said no. Then there’s the part about Tony only answering to Jerry. That’s also on Jerry but if I’m Hahn or Kenny Williams the only way I’d stay at that point is if Jerry offered me a long term contract. If that wasn’t done then both guys are gutless. Jerry firmly has his hands up their butts.
I didn’t want La Russa and would have much preferred Bochy but it is what it is. I am not a La Russa hater but time has obviously passed him by. Seems Jerry booted Doug Collins for some health reasons whether they were physical or mental when he was coaching the Bulls. Here’s hoping he cares that much for Tony.

ayeitsfabes

Jerry is the same guy who, on the record stated, he didn’t want to re-hire Doug Collins because of the off chance of having to re-fire a dear friend. Not sure why that same logic didn’t apply to TLR.

steelydan52

Jerry will say that he didn’t fire La Russa, Hawk Harrelson did. And that’s where Jerry’s guilt comes in for the reason to hire him back. That was back in the days when Jerry let his GM do GM things.

As Cirensica

The silence of Hahn and the whole FO is a bit perplexing. I have to believe that Hahn has not idea how this story will unfold so he chooses the sidelines awaiting. The he will come up with a “narration” of events as if there was something the FO planned and it’s believed to be in the best interest of the organization, blah blah. Sick of this FO.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Because he was going win a World Series and ride off into the sunset. Duh.

soxygen

Maybe Hahn is “quietly quitting.”

metasox

I doubt there will be much narration or explanation. He is simply out until he is back. And when he is back they will say they are glad he addressed his health. Really don’t need to do more than that.

Root Cause

If Kenny is out of the loop, then speaking in public is a sure way for everyone else to confirm it. I sit in silence too.

I know several here say he should quit but if you have family, roots, or kids in school, you might just suck it up for the family more times than not.

steelydan52

I may be wrong here but didn’t the Blue Jays, a number of years ago, want Kenny as president or something like that, and were turned down by Jerry? Hahn should probably be the one to be worried about a job but hell, Nagy and Pace both found work!

asinwreck

Yes, 2014.

GrinnellSteve

Yesterday I commented in one of the threads that the news of Tony’s possible return was a major buzzkill. When I told my wife that LaRussa hoped to be back next week, the first thing she said was, “What a buzzkill.”

I married my wife for her brains.

Augusto Barojas

Yeah, I mean a pretty good chance his return may well (“coincidentally”, of course) ruin the run they are on, and next season as well. Yeah I would call that a buzzkill.

You don’t know what’s going on, but if he actually had a health condition like a heart issue, what doctor in his right mind would tell someone his age to return to a stressful job like managing a professional sports team? Someone’s suggestion that this might all be alcohol related makes more sense logically than a guy with enough of a medical condition to keep him out a couple weeks returning, as if he’s 30-40 years younger than he is. The dude is almost 80. Nobody his age and with even the tiniest heart condition should have a stress filled job that he is obviously completely incapable of meeting the physical and mental demands of. He is so old he farts dust.

Last edited 13 days ago by Augusto Barojas
Joliet Orange Sox

I’m skeptical about the part of the story that involves TLR having friends.

a-t

this feels like the part in a slasher fic where everyone’s rejoicing after the killer gets got but then someone goes to check the grave and its empty

a-t

addendum: slasher FLICK. slashfic is something extremely different

Qubort

The White Sox should make their official song “How Bizarre” by OMC. It fits with everything the organization handles.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I vote no to making that the official song of anything, as it would then require listening to the song.

lifelongjd

The internal conflict within Rick must be hell. On one hand he works for an dysfunctional organization that tied his hands on a managerial hire, which is one of his most important responsibilities. On the other, if he worked for a functional organization he probably would have been fired years ago and wouldn’t have to make such a decision. What a deal with the devil he’s made.

vanillablue

I think of Hahn as Lumbergh from Office Space. Rather than doing anything useful, he probably spends all day bothering Ethan Katz about his TPS reports. And the convo with Cairo on the day Tony left was definitely “So Miguel, if you could go ahead and manage tonight, that’d be great, mmmkay?”

soxygen

Sure, “if players don’t want you, then you walk away.”

As far as I can tell, the players never say anything negative about the man. Maybe none of them feel strongly enough about it to be willing to say “we don’t want Tony back.” And even if they did, he’d just hear what he wants to hear. Shrug.

asinwreck

It only seems as if Jerry Reinsdorf has been in charge as long as Queen Elizabeth.

Amar

Is there anyone on the team that has a personality like Jimmy Rollins? Like who is willing to speak up when nobody else dares to ænd be like “You crazy!? No fucking way we want him back!”

That’s how we got rid of Drake, it just takes one brave player to speak the truth lol :p

Last edited 14 days ago by Amar
ChiSoxND12

It’s still just so freaking funny/sad/appalling that they ever had to “rid themselves” of a weirdo player’s 14 year old kid as a constant, significant presence in the clubhouse.

Only the White Sox. Seriously, only them

Root Cause

Dallas Ku….oh wait

Deep Dish Pizza

Why does anybody reports what that idiot Heyman reports? If that clown come backs I’m done with the Sox until that other idiot sells the team who cares about the fan base. Not his bank account.

Joliet Orange Sox

Before the game starts and we leave this set of delightful set of comments behind, I’m wondering if anyone would have been able to interpret the image on the no spitting sign just behind TLR in the photo at the top of this article without the words.

upnorthsox

Yes, there’s no crying in baseball.

SoxBulldog13

I don’t know if it’s in print yet but Liam’s postgame interview after another recent candidate for “Win of the year” 9th inning comeback, was as much of a full endorsement of Miguel’s managing right now as you can get, while still wishing Tony well of course. Was great to see the obvious, what we all see clearly, stated out loud.