The Chicago White Sox are almost there. After a comprehensive, years-long teardown of a top-heavy and mediocre roster, they currently have one of the most exciting young rosters in baseball; during the abbreviated 2020 season, that roster showed some encouraging signs of developing into an exciting young team. The club decided that manager Rick Renteria wasn’t the guy to finish that job, which meant that GM Rick Hahn’s first order of business in the offseason was finding a new manager. Instead, in a world-historic act of executive cuckoldry, owner Jerry Reinsdorf seems to have done that job himself. Today, the team announced that they are hiring Tony La Russa, who is still alive.
La Russa, 76, last managed a baseball team nine years ago, when he won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, he has cycled through various emeritus “special advisor” positions and mostly remained out of the public eye, save for a moment in 2016 when he questioned the sincerity of Colin Kaepernick’s protest and said that he would “not sanction somebody taking a knee” on any team he managed. Before the first game of the 2020 season, current White Sox players Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Lucas Giolito, José Abreu, and Eloy Jiménez all kneeled during the performance of the national anthem.
So we’ll see how all that goes!
If you’re looking for an explanation as to how a guy who is this old and has been out of baseball for almost a decade got this job, you can certainly point to La Russa’s Hall-of-Fame résumé. You can also find some clarity in La Russa’s relationship with Reinsdorf, who has always said he regrets the fact that the White Sox once fired La Russa way back in 1986. And yet, in this clip from February 2020, Reinsdorf says that he doesn’t think La Russa should return to managing, the reason being that it’s hard to deal with people in their 20s when you are in your late 70s:
Apparently Reinsdorf changed his mind at some point over the last few months. Or maybe he forgot he ever said that in the first place. He is 84 years old, after all.