October 5, 2022

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Rosenthal: An open letter to Tony La Russa

Tony, first of all, I hope you are doing well. You haven’t managed since August 28, time is lost because you Action required To repair pacemaker circuits. You’re watching games from booth in Guaranteed Rate Field and white socks General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Tuesday that the team will follow the advice of medical experts on whether and when to run again. A comeback means a grueling resumption of work at the most stressful time of the season with a heart problem when she turns 78 on October 4. But even if doctors let you work again, that’s no longer just a medical question. Not if you think about the best interest of the team.

I know you watch the matches. I know you know the White Sox, 63-65 when I left the club, has been 10-4 since bench coach Miguel Cairo, 48, took over as acting manager. You can justify this shift after a five-game losing streak, dismissing it as a coincidence. Knowing you since the late ’80s, I imagine that’s exactly what you’re seeing. You are Tony La Russa, three-time world champion, Hall of Fame director. You didn’t reach those heights thinking that someone else could do a better job.

But Tony, it’s getting clearer every day: Cairo is doing a better job. Yes, the team is finally getting healthier, and the offense is finally hit hardThe players finally responded to the urgency of their situation, three games in the vulnerable AL Central region with 20 to play. Perhaps all of this would have happened if you were still the manager. But Cairo brings energy. Communication with players. hold them responsible. All the things you probably thought you were doing. But obviously, it wasn’t working well enough.


Miguel Cairo (Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports)

Under Cairo’s rule, there are sometimes no longer outlandish in-game decisions that provoke protest. The club no longer operates as a fiefdom where the manager’s word rules above all else. Most importantly, players are no longer performing the way they did for five months.

In the meantime, the question arises for the club: will she return? You might say, “It’s up to the doctors.” But really, it’s up to you. Your reputation took a huge hit during your second spell with the White Sox, despite the team winning last season, your first as a manager since 2011. By stepping down, you can get out safely, show your dignity and do right by owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who brought you out of retirement as a way of atonement for your expulsion in 1986.

There, Tony. I will say it. You must declare that you are no longer running the White Sox. You only want what’s best for the team. The best for the team is that Cairo stays in the center for the rest of the season with your full support.

I know that this gesture is not in your nature. You are a fighter, I always have been. And if you and Rensdorf were more self-aware, he wouldn’t have asked you out of retirement in the first place, and you wouldn’t have accepted it. Reinsdorf’s loyalty is perhaps his best. But his stubbornness in hiring you jeopardized the team’s competitive window. It might have worked for you, Tony – and the way White Sox fans treat you, I’m not sure it was very helpful – the move was a disservice to the team’s front office, its coaches, players and fans.

All 26 of his players think of almost no manager. Pitchers see things differently than hitters. Veterans see things differently than children. But Tony, I think you’d agree it’s a different generation of guys now. Some may be intimidated by you. Some may prefer a more flexible environment. Some may need more energy from their manager. Obviously, you can’t satisfy them all. And players should take responsibility for their performance, especially when you always try to protect them in public.

However, what did Cairo do after his first loss on his first night on the job, as USA Today first reported? Call a meeting and summon the players for their lack of effort. New expectations have been set. The message, according to one player, was simple: Give me what you have.

You may have conveyed the same thoughts, Tony. But some players may need to hear the message from a new voice. Not all – some veterans, in particular, do well no matter who the manager is. But Cairo has only 10 years of his playing days left. He walks up and down the bunker, talks to the players, and cheers them up. And although you speak fluent Spanish, at least one person from the White Sox believes that Cairo, who is originally Venezuelan, communicates naturally with the large group of Latin players on the team.

Other people on the White Sox think the team’s soft-tissue injury rash may be caused in part by the players’ lax approach – they don’t always run as hard, and then demand a lot from their muscles in short bursts. Such analysis is just stories. But the conclusion was clear: the team has the personality of its manager, and you did not put the players at a high enough level.

Your relationship with the coaches was another issue. Most of the staff today are very helpful. Your style is more independent. I was told that some coaches were OK with that. Others were not. Your focus on visits and communication was at odds with the trainers’ striking goals of achieving strength through patience. And Cairo expressed his respect for you in explaining why he refrained from calling the team sooner. Obviously he did Don’t feel empowered to take a stand.

None of this is new. Tony, while you’ve always had coaches you trusted — Dave Duncan and Dave McKay, among others — you’ve always been something of a one-man show, not without reason. You were Tony La Russa, and if some people made fun of you for acting like the smartest guy in the room, you probably were. Your supporters say you can still manage a match like any coach, but nevertheless, coaches’ input is essential. Today’s game is more complex than it was in the early 1990s, or even the early 2000s. Not that asking for deliberate walking at the expense of 1-2 was an acceptable strategy at any age, As far as you might argue it was.

It seems that Cairo, at least for now, does not have such problems to motivate the players or involve their coaches in decision-making. move it from Elvis Andrews To the center stage proved to be a notable stroke, which helped spark the attack. It is impossible to say whether the White Sox play more freely because they win, or whether they win because they play more freely. Defense, by major metrics, is still somewhat flawed. And the way the Guardians, winners five times in a row, play the late Sox batch under Cairo’s leadership perhaps too little, too late.

Did not matter. Tony. You have a chance to take the high road here, to support the team-first spirit that I’ve always preached. It’s actually an easy way out, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be well received, because it’s the right thing to do.

For those who knew you at your best, it’s hard to see you pictured as an animator. Young players and fans may never appreciate all you have accomplished in Auckland and St. Louis. At least let them see you, in your last job, respect the game, your organization, the owner who made the controversial decision to hire you, the coach who succeeded you as manager.

There would be no shame in admitting that it didn’t work out the way I envisioned it. Take the noble path. Show that this is not all about you. Make the announcement that could save the White Sox season: It’s Team Meiji now.

(Top photo: Denny Medley/USA Today Sports)

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