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The Year of Living Tonyously

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What was the name of our team again?

National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person Shows Ring
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Chances are, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Sure, the Tony La Russa hiring has sucked most of the air out of the White Sox offseason so far, but just wait until you hear the big whooshing sound once the season starts.

La Russa is due in court on the 21st, presumably to enter a plea in his latest DUI charge, which will probably mean a rich-and-famous-person’s sentence of three hours of community service in exchange for a plea of guilty to damaging a public sidewalk, and an autographed hat. Really doesn’t matter what happens in the courtroom, since Jerry Reinsdorf has already made it clear that — to adapt the statement of another famously arrogant personage — La Russa could shoot somebody in the middle of 35th Street and still keep the job.

While there have been many, many reasons put forth why La Russa as manager of the Sox is a really bad idea, one that hasn’t been covered is what it will mean in coverage, especially from the national media. The local folks are apt to still remember the names of the players, even if they do find it necessary to suck up to Reinsdorf and La Russa so as not to lose access, but the national guys — print, web, or broadcast — are another matter.

Print will start:

LA RUSSA WINS OPENING GAME!
Just as brilliant as ever

While broadcast will go something like:
There’s a shot in the gap, the center fielder races over, full speed, he dives, he rolls, he’s got it!

Wow, that is some brilliant positioning by La Russa, Jim!

You can say that again. Without the perfect positioning that’s at least a triple.

That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame, Jim.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Some player benefits from La Russa’s brilliant positioning
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Print:

LA RUSSA WINS SIXTH IN A ROW
Shows pitcher how to throw no-hitter

Broadcast:
There’s a shot up the middle, but the infielder is right there, behind the bag and grabs it and tosses to first for the out. Once again, La Russa’s brilliant positioning saves a run. What other manager would have thought of shifting infielders around like that?

Well, to be fair, Jim, pretty much all of them.

Now, sure, but he invented the idea.

Technically, Lou Boudreau did that with the Williams Shift back in the ’40s.

But without a Hall-of-Famer like La Russa adapting it, no one else would have known about it.

Actually, Boudreau is in the Hall of Fame.

Sure, but as a player, not a manager.

And lots of managers adapted it before La Russa.

But they aren’t Hall-of-Famer baseball persons.

You got me there, Jim.

Brilliant La Russa Shift, based on tropical weather patterns

Print:

WHITE SOX LOSE FIFTH STRAIGHT

“They’re just not listening,” says Hall of Fame manager La Russa

Broadcast:
Here’s the pitch. He swings, he gets all of it ... it’s going, going, gone, gotta be 450 feet! What a move by La Russa!!

Actually, a player hit the ball, Jim.

Sure, but what a genius move by the Hall-of-Famer to give him the green light. What other manager would have done that?

I think maybe all of them.

How can you say that? It took guts to let him swing away like that.

Well, it was a 2-2 count.

Your point being?


Print:

LA RUSSA HANGS ON DESPITE SHAKY NINTH

“I knew bringing Eck out of retirement would pay off,” says Hall of Fame manager

Cleveland Indians vs Oakland Athletics
New White Sox closer
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images

Broadcast:
That makes it 8-2. Looks like La Russa has got this one under control.

That’s more than can be said about his driving.

Oh, come on — you going to harp on his DUIs again? He’s only had two. And 13 years apart.

Well, just being devil’s advocate here, they say drunk drivers only get caught about 1% of the time — one time out of 80, tops.

So? Thirteen years — that’s 156 months. Even at one in 80, he’s only been driving drunk, uh, once every two months. Big deal. Who hasn’t?

You need to add in the “Hall-of-Famer baseball person” bit. That’s bound to have gotten him out of trouble maybe 90% of the time, even get a ride home from the cops.

No, that’s no fair — not 90% of the time. No way it would be more then, oh, three times out of four.

Alright, three out of four.

And that means he only drove drunk once every couple of weeks. So?

You got me there, Jim.


Of course, despite all the bad vibes, White Sox fans still hope the season ends with the headline:

LA RUSSA WINS FOURTH WORLD SERIES RING

Some Chicago team this time