The intentional walks with two strikes might go down in White Sox lore as the worst managerial moves since Terry Bevington’s call for the phantom pitcher in 1995. It surely isn’t the way Tony La Russa wants to be remembered for his second stint as White Sox manager, but that’s where he has wound up. In the spirit of the press release announcing La Russa’s retirement, your legacy is based on your actions.
Speaking of La Russa’s parting statement, ultimately, he didn’t let himself off the hook.
“Our record is proof. I did not do my job” he said, taking responsibility for the disappointing 2022 season.
That is appreciated, but it came too late. In the middle of the season, when it was apparent things weren’t going according to plan, La Russa was the last one to concede there might be a problem. He vehemently defended the aforementioned two-strike walks, asked a reporter if he had seen Leury Garcia’s at-bats (we all did, Tony, they were terrible) not to mention the dismissal of the same reporter’s question from 2021 regarding La Russa’s knowledge of the Manfred Runner in extra innings. No, it wasn’t until the very end when La Russa could admit that his hiring wasn’t the best idea.
Well, not the very end. In a strange twist, at least as far as press conferences go, the tone took a dramatic shift. The “Farewell Tony” portion of the afternoon ended and then Rick Hahn took the podium for the year-ending conference, even though the season wasn’t quite over. It wasn’t just weird because the outgoing manager was there, but so were a number of players. While Hahn didn’t quite come out and say it, many of his comments had a tone of, “Not my fault!” Hahn did call 2022, “the most disappointing season of our collective careers” but then went on to remind us how good things were just last year.
He also added the point that at this stage is getting very tiresome, “there is a lot of talent on this team.” So far, this talented team and predicted winner of the AL Central has netted one division title and two playoff wins. Not exactly the kind of record that inspires books to be written.
If many of Hahn’s comments deflected responsibility, the other apparent theme was Hahn’s confidence that he was the one to fix what is wrong with the White Sox. Of course, he seems to be glossing over the fact that he constructed the team as it currently stands. Furthermore, Hahn has been at this job for 10 years now with very little to show for it. He may have unintentionally offered a way to make real change for the White Sox.
When discussing in generalities about the next manager, Hahn expressed a desire to go outside of the White Sox organization saying that the person doesn’t need “to have White Sox DNA.” Maybe that’s the solution for the front office too?