The beginning of his Instagram post translates to: “I’m never going to give up. I lasted ten years in the minor leagues.” He later added, “Mi sueño Es Ser Un Jugador Establecido En Las Grandes Ligas,” or, “My dream is to be an established player in the major leagues.”
Earlier this season, Mercedes had a slash line of .344 / .396 / .547 by May 18. That also happened to be when White Sox manager Tony La Russa publicly criticized his own guy. Against Minnesota Twins infielder WIllians Astudillo, who launched a 47 mile-per-hour heater on a 3-0 count, and while up 15-4 late in the game, Mercedes smacked it over the wall in left-center. Instead of crediting his guy for playing until the end or even just “no commenting” the situation and handling it privately, La Russa publicly condemned Mercedes and later doubled down.
“You think you need more [runs] to win, you keep pushing. If you think you have enough, respect the game and opposition. Sportsmanship,” said La Russa. “If you’re going to tell me that sportsmanship and respect for the game of baseball and respect for your opponent is not an important priority, then I can’t disagree with you more,” he continued.
Mercedes went into a tail-spin after and was subsequently sent to Triple-A.
Mercedes, however, was playing well in Triple-A, but elected to walk over with a dreary and somber Instagram post on Wednesday.
The post is no longer up, but it read, “It’s Over.”
White Sox All-Star Tim Anderson was among those to have his back when it happened.
Baseball players, like other average citizens, are paid based on production. Some or more privileged than that, others less so, but they’re paid to produce, as is everyone else. Mercedes, who is 28, isn’t even arbitration-eligible until 2024, nor will he see free agency until 2027, at 34, if he’s still in the league by then. The better his numbers are, the more he could make down the road.
Perhaps even the White Sox instead try to extend him early for a cost-effective deal, as we’ve seen with others around the league. But in this sport, as much as any other, the numbers matter.
Also, what’s he going to do, stop playing? As Anderson said, the game wasn’t over. The average person is swinging at that 10/10 times. You’d all salivate at launching 47 miles per hour over a wall! Sportsmanship is overrated code-speak employed by those hiding behind rules that are enforced but don’t actually exist.
Lastly, not sure if Mercedes had to retire, and we can’t definitively say La Russa is to blame for him taking a leave, but you don’t know what these guys go through on the daily. There was clearly a disconnect between the two that wasn’t quite amended. La Russa says he’ll talk to him, and he should. Good on Mercedes to rethink things and return. The White Sox are 58-38 and on pace to easily win the American League Central, and La Russa deserves some credit for that, but he’s had missteps that weren’t unforeseen before the season began. Just do a better job of trying to understand where your players are coming from. We’re all allegedly trying to better understand each other now, aren’t we?