With Tony La Russa, a bad idea wastes no time getting worse

There’s a natural inclination to accept what you can’t change, and in the days after the White Sox hired Tony La Russa, I eventually negotiated a position where he could be an asset to the White Sox. His managerial record says what it says, and his particular strengths as a manager have been in short supply. I still didn’t think it would work out, but I saw how he might succeed, and so I was content/resigned to letting it play out.

I’m seeing that same inclination to accept what one can’t change play out with the new information that La Russa was charged for driving under the influence a day before the White Sox hired him. It’s playing out in the comments here, it’s playing out on Twitter, and while I understand the impulses — who wants to be disgusted by their favorite things? — my brain can’t find any willingness to heal this one.

It’s not just that he’s facing a DUI charge. One can be regarded as a mistake, a momentary lapse in judgment, and it can be used as a wake-up call to correct personal behavior, especially after the punishment is served.

It’s that he’s facing a second DUI charge, after he said “I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again” the first time. There’s no defending that, at least in a case where the accused is being hired as manager of a major-league team.

And that’s the thing — the argument isn’t that La Russa shouldn’t work in baseball again, although maybe there’s a case for that when factoring his history in Arizona. The argument is that La Russa shouldn’t be handed authority for a team’s most visible leadership position. Nobody who objected to hiring him should have to answer for him, and nobody should have to answer to him.

Even if you want it to work out more than you care about the transgressions, it’s a recipe for disaster. Look at all the ways Jerry Reinsdorf has made the lives of other people more difficult.

No. 1: ESPN 1000 planned to announce itself as the new flagship radio station of the White Sox today. Now it’s been pushed back to Thursday, and what an introduction this is.

No. 2: Marcus Stroman effectively said he’s crossed the White Sox off his list.

And:

I’ve argued against making too much of Stroman’s Twitter behavior, because he has the tendency to downplay or delete later. This is a sustained stance by his standards.

I figured Rick Hahn would finally be able to use the White Sox themselves as a selling point to free agents, rather than something to talk around. This hiring presents such an unnecessary obstacle to success, which is why you’re hearing more White Sox personnel distance themselves from the decision, albeit anonymously.

The White Sox were aware of the Hall of Fame manager’s arrest in February before hiring him, team spokesman Scott Reifert said. Reinsdorf, hellbent on making up for his mistake of firing La Russa in 1986, went ahead anyway, turning the La Russa Express into a runaway train. White Sox officials told rival executives they stood by helplessly as the train blew past, unable to stop their owner from bringing his longtime friend back into the organization.

No. 3: Is this why the White Sox haven’t made a coaching hire since announcing La Russa, while a team like the Tigers is already fully staffed? Originally I figured that La Russa and the White Sox might need more time to assess the possibilities, as opposed to a manager with more recent connections like A.J. Hinch. I don’t see how this makes hiring good people easier, especially if they lack faith that La Russa will last through the winter.

This is going to hover over everything (“The White Sox and Modelo ask you to drink responsibly, because you’re not Tony La Russa”). There’s no apparent benefit to anybody but Reinsdorf, and for reasons no normal person can comprehend. We’re used to dealing with Reinsdorf being a weird billionaire, because at least he wasn’t a gross billionaire. This is gross, and it has the elements to foreshadow worse crises down the line.

La Russa is barely a White Sox. He hasn’t even assembled a coaching staff. There’s not yet a meaningful investment in the era. It would be so easy to change courses, absorbing temporary embarrassment to put the organization on a better path. If La Russa proves intractable now, then what’s telling you Reinsdorf can bring himself to actually uproot La Russa if things go further south?

(Paul Bergstrom/Icon Sportswire)

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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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denny

Open letter to the wonderful core of young Sox players (Tim A, Giolito, Abreu, Moncada, Eloy, Robert, et al, et al) and also to Rick Hahn and Brooks Boyer.

I’ve been looking forward to your 2021 season (and pandemic willing) being able to attend W Sox games and enjoy a winning baseball experience. But that being said, it is with a heavy heart that I will not buy one ticket to a W Sox game as long as LaRussa is in their employment. Sorry guys, I hope you win, but I’m staying home until your team replaces the lying, racist, alcoholic manager.

Trooper Galactus

I’m out too.

gibby32

Every now and then there is a post with respect to which I would not change a word. We can hope that the team is unaffected and that Tony’s strengths prove important. But I have a really bad feeling about this one.

Ted Mulvey

It’s absolutely incredible how the first move of the offseason managed to suck away –for me, at least– the joy and anticipation of the rest of the offseason and upcoming season.

Greg Nix

I’m disgusted. Every step of the journey from firing Renteria has been handled as poorly as it possibly could be. La Russa’s “sincerity” comments now read like a bad joke, in the wake of his previous DUI and subsequent statements. Perhaps I’m feeling overly political in the wake of the election, but it’s hard not to see this as another symptom of the exact thing ruining America: billionaires and millionaires doing whatever they want with no accountability.

I’m trying not to get carried away by my immediate feelings here, but it’s honestly hard to imagine rooting for a team led by TLR moving forward.

MrStealYoBase

They might be able to still do the right thing and replace La Russa, but they’ve already poisoned the well. The only thing that can save this team from itself is new ownership.

andyfaust

I have to agree. Replacing La Russa is the correct action, but how much face do they really save when it’s well documented that they knew about this arrest prior to hiring him?

ParisSox

I think the way out of this is for LaRussa to resign. Seeing the blowback on this and seeing as how he had to be convinced to take the job (or so I thought I read), it’d be something if he says, “in the best interests of everyone, I think I should take some time to self assess and not get in the way (or be a distraction) of what the White Sox are building here.” This keeps Reinsdorf’s ego in tact and let’s Hahn do his thing.

karkovice squad

I don’t know that getting back to business as usual should really be the goal. Business as usual sucked to begin with and they’ve vividly put the whole of their organizational dysfunction on display.

ParisSox

I just assume that part won’t change until ownership changes. So I’ll take what I can get.

asinwreck

I’d like to be a fly on the wall for Jerry’s conversations with his son. Credit the Bulls for actually interviewing front office candidates from across the league and then empowering the people chosen to run the organization to conduct a coaching search.

Jerry listened to his son on Artūras Karnišovas. Perhaps Michael could point out to the old man how the past couple of weeks of White Sox management differed from that process.

jorgefabregas

I don’t see TLR having that kind of tact.

Just John

I feel strongly that if he is not fired, he will resign–if for no other reason–because no individual in their right mind would sign up for the scrutiny that is about to be unleashed on him. This is a worst nightmare scenario for someone who has already reached the pinnacle of their profession. TLR will be gone in short order.

Who’s next?

HouseOfTheRisingSox

Renteria is available.

As Cirensica

Ozzie is available too

spacemanbob

I think Matt Nagy might become available soon and honestly would welcome the move at this point.

Gutteridge70

no thank you

Gutteridge70

ok under the circumstances

IllinoisJones

I don’t see this happening. He knew about the DUI before he took the job. He knew he was going to get scrutiny. Jerry told him–evidently–not to worry about it. He only goes if we force the team’s hand.

Gutteridge70

hope so .

PopeDonnPall

Jim Boylen’s body type screams baseball manager.

knoxfire30

Each day this continues it gets harder to fathom anything good happening in the offseason. Get rid of him now, and start the reclamation of a terrible freaking decision.

Qubort

And to think some folks were worried AJ Hinch would have been a distraction.

HallofFrank

It really makes me feel for the players. This is such a fun, talented team. It had the makings of being the best run in White Sox history. But that’s not the story. TLR is the story.

And even if they overcome this to be successful, it’s all too easy to see TLR getting credit when any success is almost surely in spite of him and not because of him.

jorgefabregas

Jerry takes a risk by embracing a long rebuild. When it starts to payoff, something that was far from guaranteed when so many teams were rebuilding, he sabotages it for personal reasons. Very good.

andyfaust

That’s even worse than the dreaded cliche, “do you know who I am?” I hope “hall of famer baseball person” sticks. That’s sooooo good.

joewho112

I wonder if that is an indication of his drunkenness or the result of the police officer not being a baseball person and paraphrasing

andyfaust

I feel like that’s how someone might explain their achievements to a child, if they themselves were a drunk child.

yinkadoubledare

But I’m the Cake Boss!

Michael Kenny

Bafangool, wait ’til mia famiglia finds out about dis!

BuehrleMan

the big question is: is he too legit to quit?

As Cirensica

Sounds like somebody with an addiction problem trying to screen it behind rings and bullshit. Maybe he was talking to himself and not to the officer.

Gutteridge70

A common ploy among all celebrities’ which is why we dislike so many of them

asinwreck

Media was different back when the Old Roman, his daughter and grandson, the Allyns, and Veeck were late in their reigns, so it’s hard to say if fans or members of the organization were acutely embarrassed by the way the owner ran the team.

We don’t know for certain if morale around the organization was worse at the height of the scandal exactly one century ago, or in the fallow years after World War II. This particular display of buffoonery seems unique to Reinsdorf in the team’s history.

Bill Veeck tried to sell the team to the DeBartolo family in 1980. Imagine if MLB had approved the sale. Over the next 15 years, that family’s teams won five Super Bowls and one Stanley Cup (selling the Penguins between the two consecutive championships). It wouldn’t have been perfect; we know this because Veeck agreed to sign Ron LeFlore for the DeBartolos. But it certainly would have been different.

soxfan

Modest proposal: Abreu for player-manager, Anderson for player-hitting coach; Giolito for player-pitching coach.

andyfaust

Let’s roll.

To Err is Herrmann

Well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into, Jerry.

andyfaust

pretty much the only positive thing i can imagine coming from this is if LaRussa remains as manager until players weekend rolls around (august?) and his jersey says “hall of famer baseball person” on the back. I don’t care if they have to take the number off to make room, just make it happen. or maybe just, “I’m legit” I really need to start working that one into my lingo more.

andyfaust

I’m already beginning to move on from the embarrassment phase of this and am now just amazed/amused. The only thing that’d make this better now is if Passan somehow got his hands on a dashcam video of the arrest. I don’t even really like Passan, but I think he’d deserve the Pulitzer for that.

Michael Kenny

Well, add “Hall of Famer baseball person” to the list of undying memes about this circus of a team. And just when I was starting to think we could have nice things.

Frank

Yeah guys Mr. Reinsdorf writes the checks and this is what he wants.If you don’t like it learn to love it!!

joewho112

Mr. Troll, here’s the attention you requested

As Cirensica

ugh…

Trooper Galactus

I’m learning to love spending my time and money on non-White Sox things.

asinwreck

Here’s something from Jeff Passan to make Sox fans feel even worse.

New Mets owner Steve Cohen on just how hands-on he'll be with baseball operations: “I played Little League once. That’s about it. I’m gonna let the professionals, Sandy and the people we bring in, let them run baseball.”

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 10, 2020

joewho112

Didn’t Steinbrenner say the same thing when he bought the Yankees? Something like he’d stick to shipbuilding

asinwreck

Of course time will tell. It is encouraging that he’s giving Sandy Alderson leeway to determine hires (and, notably, Alderson was the person at the press conference that responded to questions about the manager, front office hires, free agency, etc.).

texag10

Oh it gets worse:

“I’m not trying to make money here,” Steve Cohen said. He has his day job for that.

“Here, it’s about building something great, building something for the fans, winning.”

Steve

It turn’s out it’s worse than we thought. Here’s a Twitter update from Passan.

ESPN obtained the full arrest report for Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa’s DUI charge.

“Do you see my ring?” La Russa said to the arresting officer. “I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person. I’m legit. I’m a Hall of Famer, brother.”

News at ESPN: https://es.pn/35buQ1w

Frank

Mr Troll ? Son I was at Comiskey Park in 1959,I’m saying this is what the owner wants to do. There’s another team in this town a lot of college girls

IllinoisJones

what in the hell are you rambling about

Frank

Cubs

IllinoisJones

thanks for clearing that up

spacemanbob

Well it seems like TLR found the site everyone

IllinoisJones

tickets@chisox.com if you’d like to express your frustration

dwjm3

I honestly wouldn’t email that account. Jerry made this decision and he generally doesn’t care what the fans think, so why make some employee gather up those emails?

IllinoisJones

because it’s their job to answer emails with fan questions and comments?

dwjm3

What is your end game? Jerry doesn’t care so the only thing you could possibly accomplish is to vent.

IllinoisJones

It took me 2 minutes to write an email discussing how disappointed I am with the team. It might have an effect; it may not. But giving up and not doing anything isn’t in my DNA.

Also not in my DNA is trying to discourage people from using their voices to speak up for what they think is right. What’s your end game with that approach?

dwjm3

I stated my intent in my earlier post.

joewho112

You’d be surprised at how much companies pay attention to spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment.

dwjm3

Private companies do…Jerry Reinsdorf has never cared about what fans think.

I mean look at how selfish his recent actions have been. He just hired a coach because he regretted firing him in the 1980s. He didn’t pay any attention what this hiring meant for his current roster or the fact his was screwing his front office in the process.

The guy was even been quoted in the past saying he is only interested in winning when it makes business sense. When has he even owned up to any of mistakes?

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Chicago media say it all the time that he doesn’t care what fans think.

As Cirensica

He is not 100% owner of the team. Some other stakeholders might not care about the team too much but definitely care about gross profit, ticket sales, that kinda shit.

GrinnellSteve

Senators ignore their constituents, but when businesses see a decision is costing them profit, they tend to listen. How many emails, letters, phone calls, tweets, and general public ridicule will it take to meet the threshold necessary to change course? Beats me. I had to try. Just like I futilely try to influence my senators.

GrinnellSteve

Thanks. I just sent them an email.

Milky✌️

What a clown show this organization continues to be. Years spent waiting for them to build up to this point and they pull out this massive, baffling, and frankly despicable unforced error. The end of the Reinsdorf era can’t come soon enough.

As Cirensica

It’s not even December and I am already exhausted of the White Sox off-season.

Trooper Galactus

I see a lot of suggestions that the White Sox will let La Russa quietly step away so he can save face. Quite frankly, fuck that. This is a man with a serious problem, and it’s only enabled by his wealth and status in his mind. Fire him. Humiliate him. Bring him down from whatever pedestal he believes he’s on. Get him to a point where he recognizes his problem and GET HIM HELP. He only has so many years left on this planet, and it would be nice if people didn’t enable him to take somebody with him before then.

Marty34

For all we know he has been getting help since the incident. Humiliating someone with this sickness just isn’t the route to take.

Trooper Galactus

Rewarding somebody with this sickness and enabling him is a far worse route to take. And don’t give me the “for all we know” argument. This was a concern of some people when we learned about the hiring and BEFORE we knew about the charges. If he’s being handed the most attractive job in Major League Baseball at the sole discretion of the owner over all others involved, that’s not him getting help.

metasox

?
LaRussa or Reinsdorf

Trooper Galactus

La Russa.

vanillablue

this is turning into a Wally Backman sized embarrassment. there will be more dirt coming out about La Russa, for sure. only question is which Sox front office member will leak the stories. just get rid of him now.

GrinnellSteve

So Backman’s available? Well then!

Gary Snitz

Fire La Russa. Hire Giuliani.

GoGoSoxFan

This one made me laugh.

HakunaMoncada

I hope that Tony LaRussa and Jerry Reinsdorf are really the great friends to each other that everyone says they are. Because if Tony really is Jerry’s friend, he should resign and step away before this whole incident embarrasses them further. If Jerry really is Tony’s friend, then he should try to get him the help he needs.

The White Sox are in a strange situation in that they seem to have bungled this offseason so badly, that it offers them a reset with marginal consequences. If TLR resigns, it allows him to take the brunt of the blame and distance himself from his friend Jerry, while also absolving him of whatever contract money he just signed for. The Sox, having waited on hiring anyone else, can cut bait and rehash the organization after doing a proper managerial search.

A hypothetical dream scenario:
-7:00 PM TLR announces resignation, admits he has a problem, steps away from baseball and enters rehab.
-7:15 PM Rick Hahn addresses media, makes public apology for Jerry and TLR, and smiles slightly at the end. He knows that the public saw that this was not his decision, and that he will be vindicated when he’s actually allowed to hire the next manager.
7:18 PM Tim Anderson and Marcus Stroman exchange emojis on Twitter.
7:30 PM In utter irony, the fired Rick Renteria wins AL manager of the year.
-8:00 PM Bob Nightengale tweets that Reinsdorf admits he let the friendship cloud his judgement and he will stay out of further baseball decisions.
11/11/20: Sox announce intentions to interview 8-12 candidates over next week. Renteria is not among them.

asinwreck

I suppose the organization dodged a major humiliation in that Rick Renteria came in second to Kevin Cash for the AL Manager of the Year Award on the day the Sox are dealing with the fallout of hiring recidivist drunk driver Tony La Russa to replace Renteria.

MarketMaker

I know several people with DUIs. Not one of them didn’t make a habit of driving drunk prior to getting caught. I know a few people with 2 DUIs. Each has/had a major drinking problem. You have to have a problem in order to not confront the horrible thought of what might have happened while you were operating a two-ton automobile while intoxicated.

I have no tolerance for people who choose to drive drunk. I could not care less about drinking or getting drunk (and enjoy a beverage regularly myself), but when you endanger other people with your decisions it’s an entirely different situation. That we do not more harshly punish this behavior is beyond me. This would be a frustrating and disheartening conversation were it about one of our young players. Can’t believe we’re having this conversation because we’ve had a 76 yr old guy who’s been out of the league for almost a decade foisted upon us.

Even by White Sox standards this sucks.

Willardmarshall

Maybe he keeps a case of autographed balls in the backseat?

denman

I agree that this situation sucks for a host of reasons. I will point out that La Russa’s blood alcohol level was approximately 0.095% for both his current DUI arrest and for his 2007 arrest. While that level certainly exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, it is under Arizona’s Extreme DUI level of over 0.15% and will very likely be viewed as a misdemeanor offense resulting in only a fine and perhaps a day in jail. This current arrest involved no evidence of impaired driving and La Russa’s previous conviction from 13 years ago seems unlikely to be viewed as relevant legally. In other words, I’d expect that the legal fall out from this arrest will be minimal; Reinsdorf , I’d bet, will use the mild sentencing to justify retaining La Russa. The thing that bothers me most is that La Russa and the Sox have basically refused to comment on an incident they knew would become public. As crazy as the hire now seems given that the arrest was known, it’s all the more bewildering that the White Sox and La Russa seem to feel no obligation to speak to the issue in any detail.

Trooper Galactus

I explained this on Twitter and will do so again: La Russa’s BAC was 0.095% AT THE TIME OF TESTING. Given they had to go through a pretty involved process to get to the point where they were getting a search warrant for a blood draw, which in and of itself takes time to acquire, you are talking HOURS after his initial arrest. So, depending on the time frame we’re talking about, he was anywhere from about 0.12% to 0.15% when he crashed based on an average person’s BAC dropping about 0.015% every hour. And I can tell you, based on personal experience arresting and processing drunk drivers, that a car being driven by somebody at 0.12% usually stands out.

denman

I don’t disagree with anything you’re saying. My point was that the circumstances seem likely to lead to the minimum sentence and La Russa will probably be treated as a 1st time offender given that his previous DUI was more than a decade ago. I am guessing, given the statement attributed to a White Sox official, a light sentence will be used to justify retaining La Russa. Doubtless all parties are following the advice of legal counsel; but, personally, I feel most troubled by the fact that the Sox and La Russa aren’t speaking to the serious concerns rightly raised by the incident.

BTW, Trevor Bauer posted a video speaking to the issue in which he doesn’t preclude the possibility of becoming a White Sox.

asinwreck

Based on everything he has said and done over the past year, Trevor Bauer is not going to close the door on any potential employer until he signs a contract. He’s a high-leverage pitcher.

mikeschach

How can the front office remain silent?
You want to double-down? Go ahead. You want to talk about giving second and third chances, go ahead. You want to say the owner gets to decide whatever he wants, go ahead.
But say something.

salsashark21

I’m starting to wonder if they actually knew. If they knew, they’d be prepared for this. I don’t think they knew at all and they were totally caught off guard.

I also find it very hard to believe that TLR is going to willingly offer up that he got another DUI in a job interview. He thinks all this is BS and not a big deal anyway, I doubt he told them.

salsashark21

I heard Josh on 670 last night and I had no idea that he had lost a parent to drunk driving. I also lost my mother and step-father to a drunk driver. I feel numb because of what the White Sox are doing. I’m devastated that they are taking this stance because it’s a very serious problem in society and they are not only ignoring it, but rewarding somebody who engages in it.
I guess I could stop going to games (not really a big deal, I live four hours away), stop buying merch, but those things feel kind of pointless. This runs a lot deeper for me than money, and it’s not like I make much of a difference to Jerry. I just don’t know if I’ll ever get over how disappointed I am that this team had the chance to do the “right” thing. People had the opportunity to act with integrity and they just chose not to. It’s kind of funny that we hear rumors that Jerry couldn’t get over AJ Hinch disgracing the game, but he’s fine with hiring somebody who’s a disgrace of a person.