October 29, 2020

Chicago White Sox Hire Tony La Russa as Manager: Tony La Russa has been hired at age 76 to manage the Chicago White Sox, his first time as skipper since leaving the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, ESPN's Jeff Passon tweeted Thursday afternoon. This makes him the third oldest manager ever behind Jack McKeon at age 80 in 2011 and Connie Mack at age 87 in 1950. Only three others managed teams in their 70s.

posted by Ufez Jones to baseball at 02:14 PM - 18 comments

So the White Sox have announced their new manager. It's *opens envelope, stares around room, eyes bulging out*, uh....

Tony La Russa????

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:11 PM on October 29

Beat me to it. I cannot believe that the White Sox would hire La Russa at this stAGE of his career.

posted by BornIcon at 02:19 PM on October 29

You can't hire someone in their 70s to take over an organization.

Unless all the other prospects for the position are also in their 70s.

posted by rcade at 02:26 PM on October 29

From Andrew Simon on Twitter: "Aug. 1979 - White Sox hire Tony La Russa, the youngest MLB manager at the time (34).

Oct. 2020 - White Sox hire Tony La Russa, the oldest MLB manager at the time (76).

posted by Ufez Jones at 03:01 PM on October 29

"Mr. Piniella, I have someone from Pittsburgh on line one."

posted by beaverboard at 03:16 PM on October 29

Long pants or shorts?

posted by beaverboard at 03:26 PM on October 29

Rcade, why not? Why be ageist? La Russa has a lifetime of experience at the position, most of it positive, and a reputation for being player-friendly.

posted by werty at 04:04 PM on October 29

I am unable to resist the temptation to comment on the relative merit of hiring someone of Tony LaRussa's age to manage a major league baseball team. Why should someone at the age of 76 be considered too old for such a position? Is it a possible lapse in mental ability? Perhaps physical fitness might have deteriorated. My answer to both is that I am 3 years older than LaRussa, and up until last year I was physically and mentally able to umpire baseball. The only reason I did not continue this past season was cancelation of the season due to the virus. Inability due to age is a myth.

To be honest, the real reason I didn't want to comment is because I didn't want to be seen as the doddering old man that I really am.

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on October 29

Age, like race, doesn't matter. If La Russa still has a passion for the game he has proven he is a good manager.

A manager like La Russa probably would have never pulled Snell in game 6 ...

posted by cixelsyd at 08:12 PM on October 29

and a reputation for being player-friendly.

He hasn't always been that way.

In 2016: "I would not, to the best of my ability, I would not sanction somebody taking a knee.
"I think that's disrespectful, and I really question the sincerity of somebody like Kaepernick. I remember when he was on top. I never heard him talk about anything but himself. Now all of a sudden he's struggling for attention and he makes this big pitch. I don't buy it. And even if he was sincere, there are other ways to show your concern. Disrespecting our flag is not the way to do it."

...
And again: "No, sir, I would not allow it. ... If you want to make your statement you make it in the clubhouse, but not out there, you're not going to show it that way publicly and disrespectfully."

In 2020, he's kind of walked it back: "I know in 2016 when the first issue occurred, my initial instincts were all about respecting the flag and the anthem and what America stands for. There's been a lot that's [gone] on in a very healthy way since 2016, and not only do I respect but I applaud the awareness that's come into not just society, but especially in sports. If you talk about specifically baseball, I applaud and would support the fact that they are now addressing [and] identifying the injustices, especially on the racial side."

posted by grum@work at 08:25 PM on October 29

Why be ageist?

I was referring to another entity currently choosing a leader between two people in their 70s.

But more seriously I think La Russa, like anyone in his age bracket, is going to face the strong perception that he can't relate to today's athletes. Any discipline he enacts that meets with resistance will be covered through this lens. It will make it tough for him to succeed.

I compare this to Tom Coughlin, whose stern old school ways as the shadow GM were fine during the early period of amazing success in Jacksonville. Then times got tough and it quickly became a poisonous dynamic between the old guy and the young players. Jacksonville watched most of its talent leave and the franchise became a complete tear-down.

The White Sox must think they're pretty close to success before La Russa comes in. Otherwise I don't see how this works if they struggle for a while.

posted by rcade at 08:28 AM on October 30

The White Sox were actually decent this year--2nd in the AL Central and made the playoffs--after several years of not being in the mix. Why did they fire Rick Renteria?

posted by bender at 08:56 AM on October 30

Also

posted by bender at 08:57 AM on October 30

I love that tweet photo of him in uniform. He looks like one of the Lincoln conspirators.

He's having a prosthetic sternum implant put in so he can do chest bumps with the players without triggering a cardiogenic episode.

posted by beaverboard at 09:31 AM on October 30

The last "Tony La Russa is old" statistic:

- Currently, the second oldest manager in the majors is now Dusty Baker. When Dusty Baker was a player, the last manager he ever had was...Tony La Russa, in 1986.

posted by grum@work at 10:01 AM on October 30

My question is why at his age does La Russa want to manage again. Especially all the travel involved in MLB.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:12 AM on October 30

La Russa didn't like Fernando Tatis Jr. swinging at 3-0 in a blowout, so now he's trying to walk that back.

posted by rcade at 12:01 PM on October 30

I've read interesting takes in both directions on this today, by the way:

against (in important, orthogonal ways)
in favor (Dusty Baker, et al.)

posted by werty at 02:14 PM on October 30

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