It could end up being the pacemaker that saved Chicago, going down in history along with other objects we revere like a lamp next to a cow, disco records, and all the dirt we moved to reverse the flow of the Chicago River to send our shit to St. Louis (where it belongs and they deserve) to name a few. We’re a weird people.
Tony La Russa’s pacemaker a couple of weeks ago started broadcasting games with only implied oral consent instead of expressed written consent, or some such mishegas, which caused his doctors in Arizona to call him out of the dugout and keep him away from the team. Miguel Cairo took over, and the Sox have gone 9-3 since. That includes winning series against the Twins and Mariners (in Seattle). It hasn’t helped the Sox in the AL Central much, as they still remain three games back with 21 games to go (and the Guardians have the tiebreaker), as Cleveland has matched them step for step. But there is a buzz and bounce to the White Sox that they haven’t had all season.
There are some easy things to point to as to why the Sox have put together their best stretch of the season. First off, they’re hitting the ball out of the fucking park again, which is what they should have been doing all season. They’ve hit 16 homers in 11 September games, and slugged .462 after only slugging .392 for the season leading into September. This should be a lineup of mashers, but with La Russa’s (and his hitting coach Frank Menechino’s) insistence on singles and going the other way, this team has not been the boom factory it was designed to be. Their average exit velocity as a team jumped from 89.2 to 90.4 in September, and perhaps more importantly, the launch angle has jumped two points to 12.5. Which it tends to do when a team is trying to hit the ball in the air and into someone’s beer in the outfield, which it should be doing.
Sox fans will tell you that Leury Garcia not being shoved into the lineup every day has also been a huge factor, though that’s a little callous. But then Sox fans are kind of just one big callus anyway.
But what seems to have been the biggest factor in the Sox actually looking like they are supposed to be is that they give a shit again, and there are not-so-subtle hints in Bob Nightengale’s piece in USA Today as to why that’s the case the past two weeks.
“He told us pretty much, ‘If you don’t want to be here, then get the (expletive) out,’” All-Star closer Liam Hendriks told USA TODAY Sports. “It was eye-opening to some guys who really have never been told no.
“There needs to be repercussions. There needs to be some kind of a risk and reward. That was one thing that reverberated with some guys. “
Said second baseman Josh Harrison: “Let’s put it this way, you can tell your kids something, and they don’t listen. Someone else tells them the same thing, and they get the message. It’s put up or shut up time.
“Miggy has done a great job bringing energy to the team.’’
“Sometimes, it’s good to just hear the truth,’’ Lynn said. “He pretty much told us that it’s time to do this, and if you’re not ready, you got to figure it out. “
The Sox have played all season like there weren’t any consequences. They made outs on the bases, they treated the ball in the field like it was covered in herpes, they took woeful at-bats, you name it. Whatever a bad team does to be bad, the Sox did it. And they kept doing it. No one got benched, no one got called out, no one got disciplined in any way as they continued to play big dumb baseball.
The point of hiring Tony La Russa, in a vacuum, is that your team is supposed to be more locked in than your opponent every night. They’re paying more attention, they take every inch that’s given to them. Ever watch Albert Pujols in his heyday steal a base against your reliever who never checked? God knows I did back in my Cub fan days. That was the kind of thing La Russa’s Cardinals did every night. And it’s the kind of thing the White Sox have been giving away all season…until La Russa went away.
It’s clear that the players want TLR to stay in cryo-freeze, especially the ones who didn’t come up through the Sox system, as Hendriks, Harrison, and Lynn are acquisitions or free agent signings. They’ve experienced how a team should be run, while those who came up through the Sox system have only known either losing, or whatever it is La Russa is or isn’t doing now. The veterans brought in from elsewhere are practically screaming, “THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO WORK!”
Of course, this being Nightengale and his status as La Russa’s personal press secretary, he can’t help but try and tie it all back to La Russa at the end of this article.
Lynn, a rookie on the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals team, vividly remembers the feeling of swimming in a sea of mediocrity most of that summer. They were 10 ½ games behind Atlanta for a wild-card berth on Aug. 24, only to go 23-9 the rest of the way, clinching a spot on the final day and completing the greatest comeback after 130 games in baseball history.
They went on to beat the powerful Philadelphia Phillies in five games in the NL Division Series; six games over Milwaukee, the NL Central division leaders, in the NLCS; and in seven games over the Texas Rangers to win the World Series. The manager of that team? La Russa, who retired after the season, was inducted into the Hall of Fame three years later, only to return for a final hurrah in 2021 with the White Sox.
Fuck. All. The. Way. Off.
The Sox are playing as they should be because they’ve been unburdened of La Russa. This isn’t some genius long-game plan from the drunk ol’ uncle who has been wandering through the whole season as if he was lost in a Home Depot parking lot. And you will hear the whole team deflate like a popped tire if owner Jerry Reinsdorf foists La Russa back on this team in the final three weeks here. Reinsdorf is the only person who wants him around, and the players are telling anyone who will listen through the press and through their play.
We’re waiting to confirm reports that various people around the city are trying to hack into La Russa’s pacemaker.