No products in the cart.
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.
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)