Recently, Tony La Russa has been very vocal about his thoughts on the unwritten rules of baseball. This comes after Chicago White Sox player Yermin Mercedes hit a controversial home run in a game about a week ago. This came in the top of the 9th inning while the Sox were up 15-4 on the Minnesota Twins, with a position player on the mound. Mercedes had a 3-0 count and sent an absolute moon shot to centerfield to extend his team’s lead. The issue came later, as manager Tony La Russa vocally disagreed with his young star Yermin Mercedes, while those around the league supported him.
I find it very hard to say that Tony La Russa’s perspective is “wrong”. La Russa is entitled to his own opinion. Do I think his opinion is outdated? Yes, 100 percent. I draw the line where La Russa starts backing up the opposing team and not his player. The day after Mercedes hit a 429-foot missile on a 3-0 count, a Twins reliever threw the baseball behind him. Not a shocking retaliation, but what was shocking was Tony La Russa’s response. He stated, “I didn’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that”. Now, I’m not an MLB player so maybe my opinion isn’t worth anything, but if I’m a White Sox player on an expiring contract or an impending free agent, Tony La Russa’s comments do not make me want to sign on for his team.
La Russa should have handled this behind closed doors. When the press asked him about the Twins throwing behind Yermin, he could have stood up for his young DH and mentioned how it’s foolish to risk the health of a player of disputes like this. Then, behind closed doors, La Russo could tell Mercedes how he truly felt in order to remedy the situation. If this happened, the situation would have dissolved quickly.
Like Last Year…
Take the San Diego Padres and Fernando Tatis Jr., for example. Last year Tatis smacked a grandslam while leading by seven runs in the eighth inning. After the game, the Padres manager noted how he “didn’t like it, personally.” He, like La Russo, didn’t condemn the opposing team for throwing at them later. This incident sparked major backlash as the majority of the MLB community sided with Tatis Jr. Additionally, they were appalled that Tatis had no support from his manager. The biggest concern people had was that condemning these actions would take away from Tatis’ spark. The passion players like Tatis have is keeping baseball relevant, and exciting a new generation of fans. It seemed like the baseball community came to a community that the game was changing, and if you had a problem with hitters hitting home runs, throw better pitches. Yet, here we are again.
In conclusion, I disagree with Tony La Russa’s perspective but understand he is entitled to an opinion. I strongly disagree with La Russa not defending his players, as that is only hurting the White Sox. Mercedes and La Russa almost certainly have a severed connection now, and this bad press and attention on the White Sox will almost certainly hinder their chemistry as a team. It is silly to ask players to ruin their batting averages or on-base percentages out of “respect for the opponent.” The reason we love baseball as fans is because the game comes down to 27 outs. You can’t run out the clock or slow down the pace of play to end a game. You play nine innings, no matter how long it takes until the game is over. It’s 2021, baseball is changing and if you don’t like it, throw better pitches.