Baseball fans should be upset with the White Sox right now after La Russa DUI

As a baseball and Royals fan, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the Tony La Russa hire. While I knew La Russa had name-recognition and was a Hall of Famer, I felt that the game had passed him by (he struggled in a front office stint with the Diamondbacks), and that there were more qualified candidates for the White Sox’s vacant managerial opening (with Pedro Grifol being a prime example). However, while I disagreed with owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s decision, I figured…”Well, maybe the White Sox know something that we don’t.”

And then Jeff Passan broke news about this tonight:

The news outraged baseball Twitter to say the least (including myself). As a Royals fan, I should not care about the White Sox this much, especially considering the South Siders and the Royals have had some bad blood the past few seasons (though I am starting to reconsider if their matchup is indeed a rivalry). That being said, as someone who lives in Missouri, Tony La Russa is gospel on the other side of the state. In a city where baseball is the most valued sport, La Russa is practically a saint in the city of St. Louis, especially after leading the Cardinals to two World Series titles in 2006 and 2011. While Kansas City has the more recent World Series championship in the state of Missouri, the Cardinals consistent success and better history of playoff success since the new millennium are two items that St. Louis baseball fans hold over Kansas City baseball fanatics on frequent occasion.

And let’s be honest, Royals fans: no one was more crucial to that Cardinal success in the 90’s and 2000’s than La Russa.

And that’s what makes this most recent DUI so frustrating: not only is La Russa revered in St. Louis, but he is held in such high esteem despite his own checkered personal history, especially with drunk driving. In 2007, he was arrested for being found asleep in a car at an intersection in Florida. While nobody was thankfully hurt, his situation only generated the tiniest bit of national buzz. Even though he could have harmed himself or others, La Russa still managed the Cardinals for five more seasons after the incident, enough time to garner his third World Series title (he won one in 1989 with the A’s).

For some “regular” people, a DUI could cost someone their job, their livelihood. And yet, La Russa somehow overcame it with little critique. He held onto his job as manager of one of baseball’s most storied franchises for half a decade more. He was voted easily into the Hall of Fame. And now, he is the manager of perhaps the most talented team in the American League, if not all of baseball.

And before he even got hired, he made another mistake with driving and alcohol, only this time, reporters had to unveil it weeks after the fact.

If La Russa and the White Sox knew any better, La Russa would be stepping down as manager tomorrow. However, it is unlikely that he will…

And that should upset baseball fans, who already have plenty to be upset with in terms of the state and future of the game.


Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

I do not want to trivialize La Russa’s DUI by any means. Alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple. I have had family members and friends ravaged by the disease, and while some have gotten help, others have not and still struggle with alcoholism to this day. I cannot say for sure that La Russa is an alcoholic, because frankly I don’t know the man on a personal level.

However, it is obvious he has a problem. And it’s a problem he should take time to work on. Maybe he goes to rehab. Maybe he just goes to therapy. Maybe he just takes a step back and makes the effort to figure out how he fell back into a situation that he vowed to not repeat nearly 13 years ago. At the end of the day, La Russa needs to focus on himself. This incident could have been worse, just like it could have been 13 years ago in Florida. And thus, the time and opportunity to reflect, especially in the later years of his life, could be good for him and his family.

Unfortunately, baseball managing, especially at the MLB level, should not be part of the equation.

Because at the end of the day, there are more important things he needs to be focusing on now instead of managing a baseball team. And also, there are other candidates out there who are more deserving of the opportunity, especially considering they haven’t made the mistakes that La Russa has made recently.

Carlos Beltran for example lost his job as Mets manager before he could even manage a game due to his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal. He has been blackballed from managing thus far, even though AJ Hinch and Alex Cora have been hired and were also involved in the scandal. While Beltran may have cheated, he didn’t break the law nor did he put any lives in jeopardy.

And yet, as of Monday night, La Russa is still manager of the White Sox.

The Royals’ Grifol is still not a Major League manager, even though he has made tremendous strides with Latino players as a coach on the Royals staff. Sandy Alomar, Jr. helped lead the Cleveland Indians back to the playoffs while subbing for Terry Francona, who was recovering after having surgeries for numerous health issues. And yet, Alomar, much like Grifol, is projected to be a MLB coach, not a manager in 2021.

And yet, as of Monday night, La Russa is still manager of the White Sox.

Former White Sox manager Rick Renteria was named a finalist for the AL Manager of the Year along with Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash and Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo. It is possible that he could win the award tomorrow night, even though he won’t be employed as a manager in 2021.

And yet, as of Monday night, La Russa is still manager of the White Sox.

I get that La Russa made a mistake. But this is NOT the first incident, and he hasn’t done anything in the past five years to truly show that he is a better baseball candidate than Beltran, Grifol, or Alomar. I have already advocated that MLB needs more Latino managers. And yet, while Latino candidates get passed over, a flawed, past-his-prime La Russa continues to hold onto his job, when in reality, he needs to be focusing on his health and personal decision making for him and his family’s sake. The longer La Russa stays on as White Sox manager, the more he proves how selfish he is, and how he doesn’t care about the future of the game of baseball.

Baseball fans have every right to be outraged with La Russa at this moment, and should be for a while.

And it will be interesting to see how the White Sox and Reinsdorf will handle that outrage in the coming days.

Hell…even Royals fans are sharing the same outrage as White Sox fans right now.

I never would have expected to say those words nearly a year or two ago.

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