December 1, 2022

The Return

November 3, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

November 2, 2020

The Dead Don’t Die

We have always wanted to meet Mario Andretti because he was, is, and likely always shall be, the coolest dude on wheels.

Andretti can drive any car, anywhere, at any time. He can ride a bike, play poker, and swim with dolphins. Mario Andretti doesn’t really even drive. He commands.

But Mario is now 80 and if we had a brand new Ferrari would we want him to drive it? Sure. But would we want him behind the wheel against Lewis Hamilton or Speed Racer?

OK, enough with the damn driving metaphors. The Chicago White Sox are entering perhaps the most promising era in their 120-year history and they have decided to hand over the keys to the Mario Andretti of baseball: Tony La Russa.

La Russa, you’ll recall, started out his Hall of Fame managerial career on the South Side back in 1979. Jimmy Carter was President and Cheap Trick ruled the charts. Carter is still alive, Cheap Trick still rocks, and Tony still has a bat in hand.

La Russa has not managed since stepping away from the Cardinals after winning his third World Series – two in St. Louis, one in Oakland – in 2011. He has stuck around baseball in various capacities since then but now White Sox management has decided to put him back in the clubhouse where he’ll be managing a ridiculously talented team of largely Spanish-speaking players one-third his age.

We don’t mind that La Russa is 76 years old. We do mind that he hasn’t managed in a decade and baseball has changed quite a bit.

We also feel very, very sorry for White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn. Hahn has spent four years building a beautiful machine but now Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has always regretted La Russa’s 1986 firing, has said he pays the bills so thanks for building that cool thing, now I’m gonna sit next to it and smoke and fart but hey, this thing sure is nice.

Like all things White Sox, though, we like the attention. It’s irresponsible to write anything at length on the state of the White Sox without conceding that they so rarely command baseball’s spotlight that it is nice that just two days after the Dodgers won the World Series all of baseball was suddenly talking about the Sox. And if La Russa has enough gas – and patience and humility – left in the tank, maybe baseball fans will be talking about the Sox all next season, too.

We hope.

But right now it just doesn’t seem right. It’s the old girlfriend you bump into at the store and you can see above her mask that her eyes still sparkle. But remember, there was a reason you broke up.

Is it surprising that the White Sox would reach back into their past to spark their future when the Sox don’t really have much of a past at all? The White Sox’ history is one of ghosts haunting themselves because no one outside the South Side knew them in life so they don’t regard them in perpetuity.

Tony La Russa is a ghost, he’s a phantom, he’s a piece of living history.

And now he’s back.

If it works for one year, meaning the White Sox win the World Series, then it was worth it. But this car is built not just for speed but for long trips into many Octobers, not just a single South Side revival. –TK

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!