Here we go with the "unwritten rules" crap again
Tony La Russa once again proved that he lacks the ability to adapt to the ever-changing game of baseball
In an ever-changing league, one constant continues to emerge in the world of Major League Baseball — and baseball as a whole for that matter — old-timers that can’t swallow the fact that their game is now our game.
This isn’t meant to be age-discriminatory by any stretch of the imagination. My father grew up watching a different brand of baseball than the one that we see being built by the likes of Tim Anderson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and countless others today. Because of that, he has immense respect for Tony La Russa. He liked the hire, and he’s defended La Russa’s tactical touch in the infancy of his second tenure on the Southside.
But he’s no sheep. He knows that baseball is different than Tony’s first go-round, he loves baseball today, and he’s behind the Tim Anderson’s of the game and their crusade to modernize and grow the game he’s adored his entire life.
Because like everything in this life, the ability to adapt is a skill that is vital to survival.
Yet here we are, the White Sox are pacing the league in nearly everything that you can calculate, and we’re still watching Tony La Russa act like a dinosaur with everything he does on and off the field. Seemingly refusing to adapt to the modern game.
Forget the tactical blunders we’ve seen and debated in the first six weeks of the season. Forget the lineups we might not have liked. The White Sox, the 26 of them that matter, have overcome those things.
When La Russa was hired, his baseball moxie wasn’t questioned; it was his past public resistance to the ever-changing game that is baseball. He didn’t like bat flips and showing up other teams. He said it on the record numerous times. He didn’t like players using their platform to take a stand for what they believe in. He said it on the record numerous times.
Then he promised the Chicago media in his late-October introductory press conference that he’s a changed man. That those opinions don’t match his current views. This seems now to be a lie, much like when he told a Florida courtroom that he would never drive drunk again in 2007 and then got popped for it once again in February of 2020.
Still, he largely got the benefit of the doubt, on all accounts. He got Reinsdorf’s vote of confidence when he hired him, and much to the dismay of many, he got the benefit of the doubt from a largely skeptical fan base this spring after the scandal of his second DUI faded from the headlines. But most importantly, he got the benefit of the doubt from a clubhouse that admittedly just as skeptical of La Russa when he was hired.
That’s the group that matters. That clubhouse. They’re the ones who have to go out and produce. They made sure that everyone knew that they had their skippers back this spring. Just two months later, we can’t say the same of La Russa when it comes to having his guy’s backs.
Yermín Mercedes, arguably the most exciting storyline on the Southside in the infancy of this season, took Minnesota Twins’ catcher Willians Astudillo deep on a 3-0 offering late in a massive blowout White Sox win on Monday night in Minnesota.
On Tuesday afternoon, La Russa wasted no time throwing Mercedes under the bus to the media.
One of the faces of baseball these days, Tim Anderson wasted no time defending Mercedes on social media when he replied to an NBC Sports Chicago graphic regarding La Russa’s comments on Instagram.
Of course, Anderson wasn’t the only one defending Mercedes on social media after La Russa publicly ridiculed the 28-year-old rookie to the media. Numerous active and retired players shot down the idea of Mercedes violating some unwritten rule by swinging at a 3-0 offering in a blowout.
One who agreed with La Russa was Twins’ skipper Rocco Baldelli, who said that he still wasn’t happy with Mercedes despite La Russa's apology.
Baldelli and reliever Tyler Duffey were both ejected after Duffey threw behind Mercedes in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game.
Well, at least La Russa has a fan in Baldelli, who might not have a job if his Twins continue their path from playoff favorite to league-worst record this season. The problem is, La Russa might not have many fans in his own clubhouse if he can’t keep up with the times.
To make matters worse, La Russa stuck his foot in his mouth after Tuesday night’s ballgame by saying that he didn’t have any issue with the Twins throwing at Mercedes, stating specifically, "I don't have a problem with how the Twins handled it," in the post-game media availability.
So, if you’re keeping score at home, swinging at a 3-0 pitch is a “big mistake,” but the opposing team throwing at your best hitter is just fine. Because of… unwritten rules?
After Tuesday’s ballgame Lance Lynn, the same Lance Lynn who made his major league debut and even won a World Series under Tony La Russa in St. Louis, was asked about the situation.
"If a position player is on the mound, there are no rules. Let's get the damn game over with,” Lynn said. “And if you have a problem with whatever happened, then put a pitcher out there."
In the end, this isn’t about a rookie “missing” a sign — or downright ignoring it; it’s about a manager that has lost touch with the game. Today’s game. He said that Mercedes isn’t playing his game; he’s playing Major League Baseball, in response to Mercedes saying that he only knows how to play his way.
Well, Tony, you’re right; he’s playing Major League Baseball. It’s just not your Major League Baseball, and that’s what you continue to fail to comprehend.
If Tony La Russa insists on playing the fun police role, and he insists on throwing his players under the bus in the name of dinosaur-age unwritten rules, then his career is going to suffer the same fate of the dinosaur age… extinction.
Get with the times. After all, the team you’re managing has donned “change the game” as their marketing slogan for the past two seasons. Maybe it’s time their manager gets on board before he “gets run over,” as Tim Anderson said a couple of years ago about people offended by the evolution of baseball.
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