La Russa, Hinch Bring Championship Resumes but Not Without Additional Baggage
Image courtesy of © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsTony La Russa is one of the greatest managers of all time, but seems like an odd fit for an organization that adopted the slogan “Change the Game” for the 2020 season. I guess they’ve already decided to change it back?
La Russa is 76 years old, and appears to have several stances that clash with some of the White Sox’s biggest starts. There’s a lot to unpack, but Michael Baumann of The Ringer detailed the apparent mismatch of La Russa and the current White Sox roster.
Even if La Russa manages to connect with his new players, there’s the issue of how his hiring came to be. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that his addition “ruffled the feathers” in the organization. Passan also wrote a lengthy column on the hiring.
Jon Greenbert of The Athletic drove home the obvious problem with this hiring, no matter what you think of the match between La Russa and the Sox clubhouse: This was 100% ownership driven.
Again, there’s no denying La Russa’s past success, but this has the chance to go down as a colossal mistake made by the White Sox. It appears White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been remorseful over allowing La Russa to be fired back in 1986, and was hell-bent on bringing him back nearly 34 years later.
Passan reported that White Sox “players as well as rank-and-file employees told ESPN they were dumbfounded.” Taking a look at fan reactions across Twitter it appears most of them feel the same way.
And we haven’t even begun to discuss the fact that La Russa last managed in 2011 and has not found success as an executive with the Diamondbacks, Red Sox or Angles in the years since then.
On the flip side, the Tigers organization and its fans seem generally over the moon that A.J. Hinch remained available after Chicago, which is undoubtedly the more attractive destination right now, declined to even formally interview him. Most of the reactions I’ve seen from Tigers fans on Twitter are more similar to this:
The Tigers have been an absolute train wreck of a baseball team of late. After losing 98, 98 and 114 games the previous three seasons, Detroit finished 2020 in last place in the division at 23-35. That’s roughly the equivalent of another 98-loss season if extrapolated to a 162-game season.
Ron Gardenhire retired due to health concerns, and of course all of us in Twins Territory are wishing him the best. With this Detroit team having been this bad for this long, it’s no surprise Tigers fans are excited about a big change. Gardy is an old school guy, Hinch is much more forward-thinking.
Hinch managed parts of two seasons for Arizona, posting a .420 winning percentage there, then spent nearly five years in the Padres’ scouting department. He was hired to manage the Astros in 2015, at which point Houston had logged six consecutive losing seasons. Hinch helped lead the Astros to the playoffs in his first season.
Over Hinch’s five years with Houston, they won the division three times, went to the World Series twice and won* it all in 2017. Again, it’s easy to see why Detroit would be amped up about this.
From the outside perspective, however, it just got a lot easier to root against the Tigers.
Even if we try to look past the Twins ties, Gardy was still among the most likable managers in all of baseball. Hinch is getting off incredibly easy in my eyes, having only served a one-year suspension as the penalty of his involvement in the Astros sign stealing scandal.
Then again, these are the Tigers we’re talking about here ...
Happy Halloween, everybody!
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