[Edit: Oct. 29, 2020, post-hire ... well, in honor of “new” manager Tony La Russa, I’m bumping this back up to the top. And the poll below has been re-opened.]
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED OCT. 18, 2020]
Given the preposterousness of the Bob Nightengale-fueled Tony La Russa rumors placing the ex-Sox skipper at the forefront of this offseason’s managerial search, our writer Leonard Gore made a suggestion in our perpetual staff meeting: I highly suggest an article: “Fictional Managers better suited for Sox Manager than Tony La Russa”. No sooner had suggestions came flooding in and Tommy Barbee opined, I’d also like to point out I’ve enjoyed every single one of these answers more than the likely hire, this article began. A few of the active commenters threw out their pitches, and given the many names not written up by our staff, feel free to comment below on your Fictional Manager Better Suited for the White Sox Job Than Tony La Russa.
Billy “Bill” Heywood from “Little Big League”
Look. The “Tony La Russa: Next White Sox Manager” story, much like Fetch and Jeb Bush: Presidential Hopeful, is never going to happen. But since we are evidently entertaining ridiculous options with more seriousness than it deserves, I’m going to pick a fictional manager from one of my favorite baseball movies from my 90s youth as a more viable candidate: Billy “Bill” Heywood, Minnesota Twins manager from Little Big League.
First, Billy is 12. So Jerry can save MILLIONS by paying him minimum wage. Also, too young to drink or drive, so no potential DUIs that other elderly managers are prone to get. Secondly, he is 60+ years younger than La Russa, allowing for hopefully decades of championship runs and his ability to connect with the many young Sox stars is preferable than TLR (aka poor man’s Abe Simpson) telling a confused Luis Robert to get off his lawn.
Potential downsides include overplaying of underperforming personal favorites like Jerry Johnson, or handsome players like Yoán Moncada or Robert courting his single mom and leading to a lack of managerial focus. Also his proclivity to watching questionable soft-core adult films on road trips with his players could lead to a undisciplined clubhouse.
Despite those potential flaws, Billy Heywood absolutely outshines TLR and is my pick for 2021 Fictional Sox Manager. Thank you for your time. (p.s. I still hate Griffey for stealing that homer to end their season).—Lenny Gore
Jimmy Dugan from “A League of Their Own”
Despite a early swerve towards sexism, Dugan became a HOF-caliber manager who took a team of nobodies and brought them to the World Series. Baseball fans love a good story about a coach doing the most with the least. Loosely based on Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson, let’s ignore the drinking and gambling in favor of Dugan’s hilarious advice to young fans (“avoid the clap”) and picking on the team etiquette advisor (“I loved you in the Wizard of Oz”). Dugan lived for baseball, from his playing career to his managerial prowess. Everyone thought he was bitter and washed up, but he proved them wrong. Coming to the White Sox is the perfect next adventure on his redemption journey.—Colleen Sullivan
Pop Fisher from “The Natural”
Pros: Although Pop Fisher looked the part of a crusty old baseball relic when he served at the helm of the New York Knights, he was only 50 years old (26 years younger than Tony La Russa is now). Fisher would be a fantastic catalyst for clubhouse chemistry, as he was able to motivate prima donna Bump Bailey (who literally ran through a wall for him, sadly meeting his demise). Although Fisher was initially resistant to embrace the skill set of 37- year-old rookie outfielder Roy Hobbs, he quickly relented and leaned on the opinion of veteran scout Scotty Carson, which implies that he would be able to embrace the analytics of today’s game. Finally, Pop always wanted to be a farmer. With Sox Park a veritable hop-skip and jump from the fertile fields of NW Indiana, it would be quite a seduction for the potential new White Sox skipper.
Cons: Pop was not fluent in Spanish, which would be beneficial in managing the personalities of the team’s Latino core. Was he satisfied with being a runner-up? Pop was once quoted saying, “I wanted to win that pennant worse than I wanted any goddamned thing in my life. You’d think I could just this once, wouldn’t you? I didn’t care nothing about the Series. Win or lose, I would have been satisfied.”
Bonus con: Pop thought he was jinxed. I don’t know if this fan base needs that kind of bad juju.—Dan Victor
Joe Riggins from “Bull Durham”
I first saw this movie during its theatrical release and though not a fan of baseball at the time, was nonetheless discouraged by the whorish theme; not sure what I was hoping for as a non-baseball fan at a baseball movie, but a tryout between players set up by a community college lit instructor/assistant coach/mystic probably wasn’t it, nor was the team tart being matched up with a holy roller for an on-field wedding. And today’s viewing is inexorably altered by the outspokenness of star Susan Sarandon, who has proven every bit as misguided in her political spoutings as her Durham dime-store philosophy. But, OK, lighten up, Hamster. “Bull Durham” is indeed a great movie, and the one Kevin Coster should have stopped with, because “For the Love of the Game” and its soap opera waxiness can’t overcome the fabulous casting of John Reilly as Costner’s catcher. And Joe Riggins, aka Nathan Arizona in the classic “Raising Arizona,” is a big part of it. He’s colorful, taking the heat off his players in a slump while not being afraid to call them out as lollygaggers as needs be. He’s smart enough to take the advice of team leaders, as he does on the Durham Bulls with Crash Davis and others. Riggins also knows how to make the most of a small staff and tough working conditions, which he might encounter helming the White Sox.—Year of the Hamster
Joe Jackson, player-manager from “Field of Dreams”
When all you garrulous old and cynical young jagbags back way up off of the schmaltz of “Field of Dreams” — which is a fab movie for anyone who’s ever played catch with their father and/or son — you’ll be clear-eyed enough to see how much better Shoeless Joe (novel namesake of the movie) would be as new White Sox manager than Tony La Russa.
First, Shoeless Joe has infamously been banned from baseball and his rightful Hall of Fame enshrinement despite no evidence his collective play in the 1919 World Series was worthy of throwing games or banishment, therefore providing Jackson incentive that the HOF manager La Russa doesn’t have. Second, Jackson has a proper balance of old-school feist (“Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!”) and new-school understanding (giving rookie Archie Graham a shot against Eddie Cicotte). Third, Ray Liotta playing Shoeless Joe in the film, while looking nothing like Jackson and not even hitting left-handed, indicates that magic might be afoot with the 2021 White Sox with this unconventional managerial choice.—Brett Ballantini
Who is best qualified to manage the 2021 Chicago White Sox?
This poll is closed
Tony La Russa