Chicago Southside

Hiring Tony La Russa would be Jerry Reinsdorf’s Biggest Mistake

In trying to correct what he believes his his biggest mistake as the owner of the White Sox, Jerry Reinsdorf make make his actual biggest mistake in re-hiring Tony La Russa to lead his young core.

If you thought White Sox Twitter was an unbearable place when the White Sox fell short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes of 2019, just wait for the deep layer of darkness that’s about to rear its ugly head if the reports that Tony La Russa is going to be hired as the next manager of the Chicago White Sox, in fact, turn out to be true.

With the club coming off of its first playoff berth in 12 years, and their core of budding superstars up and down the roster ready to compete for a World Series championship in the coming years, the White Sox have an opportunity to erase their long checkered past regarding decision making at the highest level.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said it himself during his season-ending press conference a few weeks ago when he highlighted the club’s inclination to make major decisions with an insular tendency. He also said that the franchise would look to avoid that this time around.

Hahn highlighted key traits in what they’re looking for in their new manager in the form of “recent October experience,” and noted that the hire would, “more than likely be someone from the outside.”

At the time of the press conference, Hahn’s description painted the picture of a younger, analytical, forward-thinking candidate with recent October experience and ties to a championship-caliber organization as their ideal candidate.

Some — myself included — pegged former Houston Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch as a candidate that fit the description to a tee.

Now, just mere weeks later, a large portion of the fan base is publicly up-in-arms about the idea that Jerry Reinsdorf is going to flex his will on his general manager and force the hire of his dear friend, Tony La Russa.

Is this for real?

If you believe national MLB insiders like Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman, it’s certainly a strong possibility. In fact, Nightengale wasted virtually no time after Renteria’s dismissal to report that La Russa was the top candidate and has doubled — and tripled — down on his reporting in the weeks since.

On his podcast earlier this week — and as recently as Thursday morning — Jon Heyman named La Russa as the clear favorite, citing Jerry Reinsdorf as the driving force. Heyman went as far as reporting that a decision — whatever their hire may be — is expected soon.

All of this while a large portion of the consumer fan base pleads with the chairman not to make the hire of La Russa. Citing his age, potential health and longevity concerns, clubhouse chemistry concerns, and even the effect the hire will have on potential free agency acquisitions.

La Russa has stated publicly, and doubled-down on his ire when it comes to players being openly vocal about their views on social injustice and racism, and yet the White Sox have used Black shortstop Tim Anderson — a champion of reaching and connecting with minority fans — as a marketing ploy for the last year.

Photo: Tim Anderson via Twitter

The White Sox coined their 2020 campaign as one where they’ll “Change the Game,” and even had Black celebrities voice over their television and radio marketing spots, using Tim Anderson’s bat-flipping Moxy as their voice in their mission to reach the minority community during a time when baseball is failing drastically to market themselves to youth and minority fans while their competitors thrive in that department.

Why would you want to erase that progress with a hire like this?

Why would you want to upset the player that stirs the drink on this team?

Could Tim Anderson and Tony La Russa’s contrasting views and backgrounds coincide? That’s conceivable. They could find a place of mutual respect for one another. But why chance it?

Anderson isn’t the only player in the clubhouse that could potentially clash with La Russa and his way of doing things, he’s just the guy that the White Sox have chosen to champion their transition from an old school mindset to a new, fresh, and exciting team of twenty-something millennials.

If you think that this move won’t have a negative impact on how free agents view the White Sox, look no further than free-agent pitcher Marcus Stroman‘s Twitter account on Thursday. His likes are littered with tweets that share an anti-La Russa sentiment, making it abundantly clear that he’s not interested in coming to Chicago if they go with La Russa.

Do you think the outspoken Trevor Bauer feels differently than Stroman? I doubt it.

There’s no denying what La Russa has accomplished in his career. He’s the third winningest manager of all time, he has multiple World Series Championships, he is a Hall of Famer, and he was even on the forefront of pioneering the modern-day formula behind the way bullpens are structured and used.

He was analytical before it was hip to be analytical. No one can ever take that away from him, but that was then, and this is now.

Could he effectively manage a pitching staff and put together lineups next spring at 76 years old? I’m sure he can. But I don’t want him doing it here. This isn’t a question of, “is Tony La Russa a competent manager?” This is a question of, “is Tony La Russa the best manager for this Chicago White Sox team, today?”

To the latter question, I say emphatically, absolutely not.

If Tony La Russa is indeed hired as much of the smoke right now is indicating, this will be a sad day for White Sox fans. A day where their 84-year-old owner tried to correct what he sees as his biggest mistake as the owner of the franchise, he’d actually make his biggest trying to erase his remorse surrounding a 34-year-old decision at the expense of potentially alienating his front office, clubhouse, and fan base. Even worse, potentially damaging the most promising era of White Sox baseball in modern history, all for his own personal agenda.

Jerry Reinsdorf has long been lauded as one of the most loyal employers in professional sports, but he’s never been able to show that same loyalty to the paying consumer that funds his franchises in this city.

Jerry, the fans are trying to tell you something. Put your ego aside for just a moment and listen, before it’s too late.


Featured Photo: Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune


 

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