The final page has been written on the 2021 Chicago White Sox as they were eliminated in Game 4 by the Houston Astros in the ALDS. It was a disappointing end to an overall successful season despite their share of ups and downs throughout the year.
It was a story of two seasons for the Sox, who finished the first half with an impressive 54-35 record before ending the second half of the season with a 39-34 record. Nonetheless, the White Sox won 93 games and clinched the AL Central by 13.0 games. It was their first division championship and first home playoff game in 13 years.
Despite their success, the Sox will need to make some changes before the 2022 campaign begins. Those changes should start with parting ways with manager Tony La Russa. I know, he’s a Hall of Fame manager with three World Series rings.
However, those championships came at a time when the game was completely different than it is now. Let’s face it. La Russa just doesn’t belong in the White Sox dugout in 2022 and he proved it this season and postseason.
It is just about time for the Chicago White Sox to move on from Tony LaRussa.
It seems that ole Tony forgot how baseball was played in his ten-year absence from the dugout. Just yesterday, La Russa mentioned that he had proposed forcing the runner on second to turn his back until the pitch signs were given in order to eliminate stealing signs in the game.
I’m sorry, what? Did you miss that whole scandal where the Houston Astros had literal cameras in center field to steal signs? It’s just a preposterous idea. In case you weren’t aware Tony, the runner also needs to get signs from his third base coach and perhaps the dugout.
What do you propose for that? Is it to have the entire dugout wear a blindfold until they sound a buzzer in the stadium then everyone can look? This is baseball, not Heads Up Seven Up. That aside, La Russa’s management failed the team and numerous crucial times throughout the season.
It all began in May, after young DH Yermin Mercedes swung at a 3-0, 47 mph lollipop from position player Willians Astudillo in a 15-4 game. Apparently, professional athletes are supposed to stop playing at a certain point.
Instead of letting Mercedes play the game, he decided to not only chastise him but did it publicly. And yes, this is the same roster that has Tim Anderson in the lineup every day and has featured an epic Brian Goodwin bat flip.
This White Sox team has fun playing the game, and they do it with passion and flare. Gone are the days when a go-ahead home run is met with a polite handshake as you get to home plate. It’s worth noting that after La Russa’s public comments, the White Sox didn’t finish a single calendar month more than four games above .500 after going 19-10 in May.
Having La Russa in the dugout will only dampen the mood and keep the young Sox stars from performing to the best of their ability. It’s more than just the abstract reasons that La Russa needs to go.
The White Sox scored 116 fewer runs in the second half in 16 fewer games. That’s nearly a half a run per game less. Those offensive inconsistencies continued into the postseason as the Sox posted one run in two of the four games.
As for La Russa’s game management, there were numerous decisions throughout the ALDS that just didn’t make sense. He mismanaged the bullpen for the entire series (and most of the second half of the season). He made a switch that put Leury Garcia in right field late in Game 2, ultimately damning the team as Garcia misplayed a line drive that broke the game wide open after Craig Kimbrel gave up a home run to the next batter.
La Russa was brought on to manage the game and bring out the best in his players. He’s done neither. Jerry Reinsdorf has made it up to him. He got the opportunity to manage the White Sox a bit more. But it’s time for him to go. If the White Sox are going to win a World Series with this core, they will need someone not named Tony La Russa at the helm.