Rebooting old programs seems to be a trend today, and the Chicago White Sox have decided to get with the times and hire a baseball legend. Tony La Russa, a 33-year veteran from the dugout, has led his teams to three World Series titles, six league championships, and 12 division titles. He has won 2,728 career wins as a manager, which is third all-time behind John McGraw and Connie Mack. He retired on top after winning the 2011 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals; now, he is back, and will likely see his final managerial stint be with the same team he started his managerial career with, in the White Sox.
La Russa was first hired by the White Sox in 1979 and served as the team manager until 1986. During his time in Chicago, the White Sox won a division title and had an overall record of 522–510. After leaving the South Side of Chicago, La Russa blossomed as a manager with both the Oakland Athletics and the Cardinals and eventually accomplished enough to make it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
It’s impossible to discredit La Russa’s accomplishments, as he changed the game of baseball forever, but the hire is very surprising and could even be considered a head-scratcher. The White Sox have a new age team, with exciting young players and a seemingly revitalized fanbase. Bringing in a manager who appears to be disconnected from the changing game, especially since he was known to slow down games which will be frowned upon in today’s league, seems like a decision that is destined to fail.
AJ Hinch was rumored to be a finalist for the job, and despite his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, the job he did with the franchise was commendable and aligns with how the White Sox would hope to rise. Was Hinch too risky of a hire? Maybe, but hiring La Russa seems to suggest that the White Sox wanted some proven stability in the dugout. The White Sox were a dark horse contender in September, but struggled in the home stretch and eventually lost in the American League’s Wild Card round. The team looked undisciplined and discombobulated, and La Russa likely appeared to be a choice that could reverse that trait next season.
The other question to consider is why would La Russa even want this job? He is one of the most accomplished managers of all time and is 76-years old. This makes him the current oldest manager in the MLB, which is ironic considering when he was first hired by the White Sox in 1979, and he was the youngest manager in the league at 34.
La Russa was also involved with the Angels organization, so he was still involved with a team, negating any thought that he missed the game; so, why did he do this? Maybe he got the itch to manage again or maybe he just wanted to bring a title to the one team he couldn’t bring one to in his first tenure; in reality, none of this speculation matters as La Russia is the manager of the White Sox and the league is officially on notice.