White Sox manager Tony La Russa is stuck in an outdated philosophy full of unwritten rules and other bullshit that needs to go away if baseball has any chance of not dying with the dinosaurs that still run it. Last night, the White Sox were thumping the Minnesota Twins, 15-4, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. The Twins, who were clearly conceding, put a position player (Willians Astudillo) in to lob up a pitch over the middle of the plate. Yermin Mercedes, who is a hitter, hit the baseball, and hit it far.
Hitter does job, which apparently he shouldn’t have done.
In an interview today, La Russa was upset about his player hitting a home run.
“He made a mistake. There will be a consequence he has to endure here within our family,” La Russa said.
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Consequences? Baseball players live and breathe on their stats and production. Given the opportunity to hit a soft pitch lob over the middle of the plate and park it in the bleachers, what’s the batter supposed to do? Strike out? If the Twins don’t want the White Sox hitters to hit, then they shouldn’t put a position player in to pitch.
Mercedez, on the other hand, doesn’t give a damn about your unwritten rules, and is going to keep playing, because of course he is.
It’s reminiscent of Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the brightest young superstars in the game, hitting a grand slam up seven on a 3-0 count last year. As colleague Jesse Spector penned, “This was a professional game. If the Rangers want to quit, let them forfeit and go home.”
I couldn’t agree more. If the Twins wanted to walk off the field feeling sorry for themselves, they need to do it without asking other professional athletes to impact their stats. Every hit, every run, every home run and extra base hit factors into a slash line, which is the measuring stick of production for whether these athletes keep their jobs or not. It’s like not basketball where a player can simply not shoot — there’s no neutral option at the plate. Every plate appearance is either a positive or a negative.
The White Sox are one of the most entertaining young teams in all of baseball. MLB needs them a hell of a lot more than they need La Russa trying to stick to a tired set of “right way to play” rules.