This Tony La Russa sociology experiment on the South Side of Chicago is going exactly as anyone familiar with the White Sox team and La Russa figured it would. And really, the only thing bailing La Russa out is that this roster was so turn-key when he took it over that even the injuries to Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez can’t derail it from the best record in baseball. The record, of course, is what La Russa and owner Jerry Reinsdorf will point to, even if it feels like it’s all happening despite the DUI-in-waiting in the dugout.
La Russa spent the pregame yesterday decrying Yermin Mercedes homering off a 3-0 pitch off catcher Willians Astudillo on Monday night, somehow concluding that was a bigger mockery of the game than a position player lobbing pitches at speeds eclipsed by Molotov cocktails. La Russa said he apologized to the Twins, even though Mercedes certainly never asked him to. Neither did anyone on the White Sox roster, if Tim Anderson is the bellwether to judge that on (and he is). La Russa said there would be “consequences” for Mercedes’ actions.
And the Twins threw at Mercedes anyway on Tuesday night.
So there are only two possibilities. One, La Russa gave the go-ahead to the Twins to throw behind Mercedes with that apology no one wanted or asked for, putting his principles over the safety and principles of his own players. Or, he hung his player out to dry, and no one cared, and he endangered his safety anyway.
After the game, La Russa said he didn’t have a problem with what the Twins did, which makes you think it’s the former scenario, and certainly isn’t backing your player which you’d think would be job No. 1 for any manager. And clearly the rest of the roster does have a problem with what the Twins and their corn-fed mule reliever Tyler Duffey did, if Tim Anderson is the bellwether to judge by (and he is).
Oh, and La Russa’s handpicked acquisition, Lance Lynn, partially acquired because it was thought he would back whatever hard-ass/hard-head bullshit La Russa would try and force on this team of buoyant and fun stars thought it was just plain bullshit, too.
It should also be mentioned that throwing a baseball at someone for some perceived slight is the height of chicken shit. Duffey isn’t really a shrinking violet at 6-3, but this is The Yerminator. If Duffey wouldn’t consider confronting Mercedes outside the clubhouse, then by definition throwing a baseball at him is chicken shit.
It’s an even worse look after what we all saw happen to Kevin Pillar on Monday. Duffey can claim he kept it below the belt and that’s “the right way,” but it doesn’t take much for a pitch to go awry. Considering Duffey has a walk-rate of 16.1 percent, it’s not like he has pinpoint control. If MLB wanted to get this assholery out of the game it should suspend both Duffey and Twins manager and fellow oaf Rocco Baldelli 20 games. Don’t sit on a hot stove waiting for that.
Baseball has moved beyond this, and yet can’t quite seem to let go just yet. Thanks to the Twins Elmer Fudd’ing the beginning of the season, the Sox will probably stroll to the division crown. That shouldn’t justify La Russa’s continued presence, when it’s clear he’s pulling in a different direction than his players.
If the NBA was hoping for some excitement for their first ever Play-in games, it’s 0-for-2. It’s almost as if the Charlotte Hornets or Washington Wizards were thoroughly mediocre-to-bad teams who could throw in a stinker on any given night. And so it came to pass, as they were dismissed by the Pacers and Celtics, respectively, by a combined 45 points. Also helps when Jayson Tatum goes for 50.
Russell Westbrook had one of those nights where the Celtics didn’t really welcome him to the rim, and we know what happens when he has to shoot from the outside consistently. It’s a lot of noises that make you wince. He went 6-for-18 overall, 0-for-4 from three. A clearly hurting Bradley Beal wasn’t much better, and that combination makes the Wizards chum. They’ll get one more chance against Indiana. But it’s hard to see Beal getting healthy in just two days.