Chicago White Sox: LaRussa hire proves team won’t change

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox officially hired Tony LaRussa to be their manager (again) on Thursday. The move just proves the White Sox will never change.

As the world came crashing down during the debacle that is 2020, one silver lining shined bright: the Chicago White Sox were finally a playoff contender and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

It had been a decade of darkness on the South Side, with the team finishing below .500 for seven seasons in a row.

Those struggles had finally begun to payoff as the rebuild ended and the wealth of prospects that the team had stockpiled finally began to trickle into the majors, and the White Sox finished 10 games above .500.

Despite an early playoff exit, Sox fans had every reason to be excited for 2021. They have a young, talented team that is in a real position to contend for the better half of the 2020s.

And while the depth of their talent and reasons for optimism remain true, their decision on Thursday to re-hire former White Sox manager Tony LaRussa as the team’s next manager was a giant slap in the face of everything that Rick Hahn and the Sox have put together over the last four years.

Yet it should come as no surprise that a team run by owner Jerry Reinsdorf makes such a narrow-minded, nepotistic decision.

Reinsdorf has become synonymous with nepotism and showing a keen favoritism towards those in his inner circle and this move takes the cake.

Just look at his other team, the Chicago Bulls. Reinsdorf allowed Gar Forman and John Paxson to run the front office into the ground year after year and refused to make changes to the regime for nearly two decades.

He hired unqualified coaches (ahem, Jim Boylen and Fred Hoiberg) because they were in his inner-circle. His blind loyalty to those around him is both impressively virtuous and utterly infuriating.

Yes, LaRussa is a Hall of Fame manager that has won three World Series.

But he is also an old school skipper who hasn’t managed in nearly a decade. And as the game of baseball modernizes and changes with every coming day, the move just doesn’t fit for a young team of millennials.

When LaRussa last managed the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series in his then-final year of coaching in 2011, only two players who appeared in 100 games or more were below  the age of 28.

The average age of every player who played in 100 or more games? 29.6 years of age.

And now LaRussa takes over a White Sox team with an average age of 27.7 and a core of potentially perennial All-Stars that are between the ages of 22 and 25.

LaRussa last managed the White Sox from 1979-86 before ultimately being sacked by new general manager Hawk Harrelson. Reinsdorf has expressed his regret in both naming Harrelson as GM as well as letting him fire a now Hall of Fame manager.

What Reinsdorf may not realize is that by hiring LaRussa, he could be making the same mistake again in alienating his front office in favor of his personal relationships.

The LaRussa hire just doesn’t fit in what GM Rick Hahn has built, and Reinsdorf could be inadvertently pushing out one of the best execs in all of baseball.

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This move is nothing but an olive branch from Reinsdorf to LaRussa. He’s always put his personal relationships over winning, and it’s clear that that will remain the same even as the team is on the brink of World Series contention.