White Sox: Could Tony La Russa be the AL Manager of the Year?
By Chip Egan
We live in very odd times, so to make the statement that Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will be the American League Manager of the Year at the end of the season should fall in line with what is going on today.
The Chicago White Sox have been one of the best teams under Tony La Russa.
If the Sox go on to win the Central Division, the possibility of La Russa earning the Manager of the Year award has a better than average chance of happening. Expectations for this team were high going in but losing starters like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Adam Engel, and, Nick Madrigal for an extended time during the season (not to mention reliever Michael Koepech) made it tough.
To think they would not only be atop the AL Central and have one of the best records in baseball would have been wishful thinking. However, the Sox have been more than solid offensively and the pitching staff has proven to be one of the best staffs in all of baseball.
It’s a wonder how the Sox have maintained such success considering La Russa was a wild card in all of this. His age (76), off-field issues, and ability to connect to his players despite his old school respect for the game philosophy could have easily been a recipe for disaster. Add to that the rash of injuries to key players and one would think this team would be one of MLB’s biggest disappointments.
Despite those questions along with La Russa’s managing gaffes, which affected several games in the early going, the team is right there atop the AL Central. There are those who will say the team is winning in spite of La Russa and their success speaks more to their talent and professionalism than his managing.
For example, the Sox could have had a mutiny on their hands following La Russa’s comments about the Yermin Mercedes 3-0 homer against the Minnesota Twins but they didn’t. They have stayed the course and have not let the side issues affect them. Tim Anderson summed it up best when he told reporters, “Tony is like that dad and we’re like his kids. We’re like the bad kids who don’t listen but we all get along so we’re going to keep pushing.”
If that pushing leads to an AL Central title, pennant, or World Series, as the saying goes, “to the victor go the spoils.” Manager of the Year voters may overlook the baggage attached to La Russa because winning cures all ills and would make for a great story.
If that turns out to be the case, La Russa could be adding some new hardware to his collection, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf may be giving a huge “I told you so” speech to those, like myself and many others, who questioned the hiring from the beginning.