Has Baseball Passed Tony La Russa?

Has Baseball Passed Tony La Russa? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com

A funny thing happened while Tony La Russa was retired from baseball, someone changed the rules on him and never told him about it. That’s what happened to the Chicago White Sox manager during an extra inning inter-league game last week, with the skipper’s lack of knowledge potentially costing his first place team a victory. What makes things worse for La Russa was the additional mistake he made after his first one, as well as having the rule change he wasn’t aware of be explained to him by a member of the media. Can someone please get Tony La Russa a new rule book, please … and while you are at it, perhaps the Chicago White Sox a new manager so they can actually make it to the postseason this year? 

As everyone probably knows, Major League Baseball no longer plays “baseball” once a game reaches extra innings, instead choosing to use a rule that places a runner on second base to start each half inning to help bring the game to a faster end. The player who takes to the basepaths for each team is the one in the lineup that is one spot ahead of the hitter leading off the inning, which is normally the player who made the last out from the prior inning.

There is one exception to this rule, and that is if a pitcher is in the lineup and would normally be the player asked to start the extra inning at second base, a team is allowed to have the player ahead of him in the lineup take his place (because we know pitchers are not allowed to run the bases for fear of being hurt.)

So, with of all that in our minds, we go to Wednesday night when the White Sox and Cincinnati Reds played to a scoreless tie after nine innings. Thanks to a double switch made by Tony La Russa in the bottom of the ninth, his closer Liam Hendricks was batting in the fifth spot in the order, making sure he would not need to bat in the tenth if he was able to keep the Reds scoreless. That’s because the sixth place hitter was scheduled to lead off the tenth for Chicago.

The first mistake La Russa made was not knowing about being able to swap out his closer for another runner when extra innings began, with the Hall of Fame manager sending Hendricks to the basepaths to start the tenth. His pitcher/runner did make it to third base with one out, but failed to score when a first and third one out rally was killed by the manager when he had a runner try to steal second for the second out before Billy Hamilton ending the top of the tenth without producing a run. This, of course, while La Russa’s pitcher for the bottom of the tenth was on his feet rather than resting up in the dugout for his second inning of work in the game. 

Cincinnati scored in their half of the tenth and won the game 1-0. This gaffe came just days after ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported many Chicago White Sox players have their doubts about their 76-year-old manager as several in-game decisions Tony La Russa has made has left them shaking their heads. 

I don’t know if the White Sox would toss up the White Flag after just one season (or less) if La Russa continues to struggle in the dugout; that might come down to if the players remain silent or we start seeing “unnamed sources” continue to speak to the media. I will say this, however: If members of the media need to explain the rules to a big-league manager, it may be time to find a new manager, even if that manager is a member of the Hall of Fame. Until then, it may be wise for someone in the White Sox’s front office to invest in a rule book for their current manager, at least until they can find a new one. 


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Has Baseball Passed Tony La Russa? | TooAthletic.com

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