Back in February, new Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in Phoenix, according to ESPN, his car allegedly smoking after hitting a curb.
The 76-year-old was officially charged with DUI on Oct. 28, one day before being named manager of the Chisox. And according to a report, the White Sox were aware of the arrest prior to offering La Russa the job.
“Because this is an active case, we cannot comment further at this time,” a White Sox spokesperson told ESPN.
It’s clearly not safe to hand Tony La Russa the keys to just about anything at this point, so why would White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf hand him the keys to a young team with promise, knowing all this?
And this is not an isolated incident. Back in 2007, La Russa was found asleep at the wheel of his car at a stoplight in Jupiter, Fla., his engine running. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI. Side note, after entering his plea, he told the court that he had learned his lesson. Guess not.
When ESPN asked La Russa about the February incident, the veteran manager said, “I have nothing to say,” before hanging up.
According to ESPN, the news outlet having reviewed court documents on the arrest, La Russa’s blood-alcohol level was .08 or more, a misdemeanor. The Hall of Fame manager faces up to 10 days in jail if convicted.
Here are the details:
On Feb. 24 of this year, La Russa was spotted by police standing beside his smoking car just before midnight, according to ESPN. The officer sensed a “light odor of alcoholic beverage.” La Russa was asked to take a breath test and refused. He was also “argumentative” according to the report. After taking a field sobriety test, La Russa was taken into custody.
Here’s more from ESPN’s report:
La Russa refused to submit to a breath test or provide a sample of his blood or urine to test his blood-alcohol level, according to the affidavit, and the officer obtained a search warrant to take two tubes of La Russa’s blood. That is a common procedure for DUI cases in Arizona, said Michael Munoz, a Phoenix-area DUI criminal defense attorney who is not affiliated with the case. Munoz also said it was not uncommon for charges not to be filed in cases for several months due to slowdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic; however, other law enforcement sources in Arizona told ESPN the delay seemed excessive.
It will certainly be fun to see the look on White Sox star Tim Anderson’s face when La Russa gets on him about bat flips and gold chains. Though, you have to imagine it gets harder to be a disciplinarian when you have multiple arrests and court dates.
The real question remains, why did Reinsdorf go through with such a controversial hire knowing this happened back in February. What sort of message does this send his young team?
It made little sense then, and a hell of a lot less now.