While White Sox fans, and the actual White Sox for a good portion of the time, have always considered the Cubs their main rival, the way baseball works is that your real enemy resides in the division. That’s who you compete with for playoff spots after all. So while the Sox were having their owner enforce a necrophiliac hire on their front office, the Detroit Tigers apparently are going to gleefully hire A.J. Hinch.
The question has to be asked: what did Hinch really lose out on for being manager during the Astros’ cheating scandal (and we’ll be asking this question when Alex Cora returns to the Red Sox forthwith, reportedly)? Hinch was fired, and missed a 60-game season where just about everything was a pain in the ass for everyone, as well as a season of questions about how he would respond to the way teams would treat the Astros. He’ll face those questions at first, if and when he takes the wheel in Detroit, but eventually the Detroit media will stop asking and the national media will follow. He won’t be under scrutiny for teams throwing at his hitters, or being massively booed everywhere he and his team goes, and how he’ll react to either. Time heals all wounds (and wounds all heels, as the shoe-repair shop’s sign down the street tells me).
It’s also a question of what exactly Hinch brings. Hinch said he didn’t approve of the sign-stealing, and even broke a video monitor next to the dugout to try and stop it. But it didn’t stop it. Which means his players didn’t really have much respect for him. Or he’s a liar.
On the other side of the argument, Hinch was at the helm for a World Series championship and another appearance, and for the former was advanced enough to basically eschew his bullpen and wheel Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton out of the pen for multiple innings. He’s everything La Russa isn’t, in theory. The Tigers are at least a couple years from any of this, but Hinch was the manager when the Astros went from rebuilding to contender, which is what Detroit is hoping for in 2021 or 2022.
Of course, and again, this is something of a measure of MLB’s and Rob Manfred’s dedication to getting new and minority blood in the manager’s office. Here’s a manager disgraced, rep tarnished, and yet he’s in a job within a year of being suspended. Carlos Beltran got fired from his job for what went on with the Astros before ever managing a game for the Mets. Where’s his name in rumors for openings?
There’s definitely some resentment within baseball that both Hinch and Cora could return to jobs so soon. But then, the fact that that one team was in such a hurry to hire Hinch again, one wonders if what the Astros did really matters to the higher-ups in the game. It appears that all any of the executives really care about is that Hinch won, which fits in completely with the efficiency-over-all/ends justify the means methods of baseball today.