TONY LA RUSSA AND THE WHITE SOX have had better weeks.
And yes, they scurried to Minneapolis for a weekend set as “a .500 team amid injuries.”
But the expectations are so high. Plus, so much existing data suggests the 77-year-old La Russa has no shot of winning a World Series with a group that is loaded.
All begging the Q.:
What would it take for the overwhelmingly baseball-savvy La Russa to pull the plug on himself?
THE SLOUCH SIDERS WENT into Cleveland Monday and got weathered out of two games.
They then dropped a doubleheader Wednesday and looked like an unprepared Sunday Morning League team with their errant lack of focus during a fourth straight loss Thursday.
It was during that bleak closing matinee that an intriguing visage of La Russa strolled on to the field.
With the Guardians on top 5-3 in the seventh, shortstop Tim Anderson was clearly interfered with by CLE baserunner Josh Naylor while attempting to field a slow hopper to the left side.
Naylor should have been called out.
LA RUSSA WALKED OUT to protest — or to teach?
He did so calmly, in control.
A viewer could only watch with textured interest as a Baseball Hall of Famer with a law degree explained what should have been called to an umpire approximately half his age.
La Russa filed his brief and then broke into a soft jog as he returned to the dugout.
The watcher was left wondering:
Of all the places an honored veteran of the fray could be, what was he doing chasing stooge calls at Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland on a nice April afternoon?
And, who are the 2022 Chicago White Sox playing for?
Is it their devout and deserving paying fan base?
Or is it for a manager improbably enabled to chase his own fountain of youth?
Or is it for Jerry Reinsdorf — a chairman of odd dictates who is already forever cursed by his shooing of prime-time Michael Jordan and the breakup of the championship Bulls?
LA RUSSA IS NO. 2 in all-time wins by an MLB manager. He’ll never pass the somewhat misleading standard of 3,731 set by Connie Mack.
But of the Top 10 in that category, here are facts:
• None won a World Series after age 67 — and La Russa was 67 in 2011 when the Cardinals captured the Commissioner’s Trophy;
• None besides Mack and La Russa won a WS after 60;
• The average “drift time” of the nine other than La Russa — that is number of years managing after their final WS victory — is slightly less than 12 seasons;
• La Russa is 10 years past his third and final World Series championship; and,
• Of those three titlists, here are their win percentages on April 30: ’89 A’s, .692 (18-8); ’06 Cardinals, .680 (17-8); and, ’11 Cards, .593 (16-11).
With a week to go, the ’22 Sox are unlikely to match La Russa’s bottom figure.
When will the resolute Floridian of Sicilian-Spanish pedigree hear his own final baseball bell toll?
Will it be in time for Sox fans to benefit from a choice window of contention made possible only by a freely extended rebuild?
Sure it’ll mean goodbye to the Farah Fawcett poster and the Styx cassettes in the manager’s office at “The Cell.”
But in the interim, is there any way the ghost of Jimmy Piersall can come back to work as TV analyst on Sox broadcasts?
STREET-BEATIN’: Even with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews still lingering, some Blackhawks experts agree it’s been best to keep star-aborning Lukas Reichel bouncing back to Rockford as much as possible to keep him away from the deflated culture of West Madison Street. (Reichel has bounced so much his first words of Chicago-that might have been, “The Jane Addams.”) …
Surprising to hear Bob Sirott has accepted a small expanded role with The Marquee Sports Network. The bright good-morning voice at WGN AM-720 recently expressed some unhappiness over how his archived material was being handled by the Cubs’ drooping TV operation. …
Gus Johnson told media he’s taking a leave from Fox/NFL play-by-play to participate in an Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard. Johnson — through no fault of is own — did a quick TNT signoff from the Bulls’ 114-110 Game 2 win at Milwaukee giving an incorrect final score. (The accurate final gifted Under bettors (225) with a “V” after a missed FT by Grayson Allen with 0.4 remaining.) …
Throw away all the record books — since there aren’t any — when that new USFL completes Week Two Sunday with the New Orleans Breakers-Tampa Bay Bandits from home base Birmingham (NBC, fuboTV, 2 pm). Analyst Jason Garrett correctly called the resurrected spring thing “a land of opportunity” for saloon bouncers pining for another shot at the NFL. …
And insightful Mike Conklin, on a tale of two differing priorities in Chicago baseball: “White Sox offering free tickets to veterans; Cubs offering ‘School Night’ special discounts, meaning kids skip homework and go to bed late on school nights.”
• Jim O’Donnell’s Sports and Media column appears three times weekly, including Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.