With Grievances Aired last week, it is time for phase two of our South Side Sox Soxivus celebration: Feats of Strength. Specifically, we are asking the question of who will wrestle control of the Chicago White Sox from Tony La Russa and be the manager of the team next year?
Scene: While Tony La Russa, King of the Soxraelites, resides in his palace, bench coach Miguel Cairo throws a sheep-shearing party out in the pastures beyond the city, because who can shear sheep without a little wine in their belly?
(II Samuel 13:24-29) “And Miguel came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheep-shearers; let the king, I pray thee, and his servants go with thy servant … Then said Cairo, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Daryl Boston go with us … And Miguel commanded his servants, Mark ye now, when Daryl’s heart is merry with wine; and when I say unto you, Smite Daryl, then kill him.”
Needless to say, Tony wasn’t super happy with his first base coach being so unceremoniously offed, but after a few months, Cairo was able to return to the good graces of the organization — and King Tony. With Frank Menechino still protesting the results of the long-passed battle between King Tony and his predecessor as King of the Soxraelites, Saul Renteria, there was only one rival left to deal with.
(II Samuel 14:29-30) “Then Miguel sent for Joab McEwing, to send him to the king; but he would not come to him: and he sent again a second time, but he would not come. Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Miguel’s servants set the field on fire.”
Needless to say, McEwing didn’t take kindly to having his barley fields set on fire. But it kept him occupied — and NOT focused on the manager’s office. When Cairo finally worked up the gusto to challenge King Tony himself, Joab found himself on the side of the King. After a fateful battle in the clubhouse, Cairo somehow got his head stuck in a bat rack while trying to escape on the medical cart. Who was there to find him?
(II Samuel 17:10-14) “And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Miguel hanging in an Oak. And Joab said unto the man that told, And, behold, thou sawest it, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three broken bats in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Miguel.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Joab McEwing takes over for King Tony La Russa. These are the feats of strength necessary to unseat the King.
I don’t think we have a Solomon showing up any time soon.
As Soxivus rolls on, we have aired our grievances, filled our stomachs with the finest foods and wines, now we come to the Feats of Strength.
As is tradition, the head of the family chooses the opponent, and Soxivus can’t end until he is pinned. As the reigning patriarch, Tony La Russa’s first choice was obviously A.J. Hinch, so he could prove once and for all who the correct choice was back before the 2021 season. A.J. had something better to do up in Detroit, rebuilding their franchise, so we had to settle for Tony’s second pick, soon to be HOF baseball humanoid: Southpaw.
Enacting basic Highlander rules, Tony has decided that there can be only one HOF figure hanging around the clubhouse, and believes by absorbing Southpaw’s essence, he can manage easily for another decade or two.
Southpaw enters, green and glistening muscles highlighting a scarred frame that is no stranger to fights to the death. Dipping his matted, freshly taped paws in a bowl of shattered glass, he makes his way to the center of the arena. Tony emerges from the dark hallway sporting his trademark katana. Glints of white light flash off the sharp and polished blade as he raises it towards the heavens. Examining the edge, Tony takes a long five seconds before his eyes shift to his waiting opponent. The two lock eyes and begin.
Southpaw, knowing better than to allow Tony time to deploy any of his deft maneuvers, honed over hundreds of years and thousands of battles, moves quickly to close the gap between them, remaining cautious of Tony’s devious blade. Tony steps forward, probing out with a downward slash, slicing air, but failing to make contact with the flocculent beast bearing down on him. With overwhelming speed, Southpaw accelerates down and around the blade, launching the full weight of his hulking mass of muscle upwards and lands solid on the left side of Tony’s jaw. Quickly landing another pair of crushing blows that find Tony’s ribs, Southpaw leaps to the side and out of range, leery of allowing himself to indulge in greed and bloodlust.
Tony staggers back, the corner of his mouth pulling taught with a smirk that cracks and opens into a maniacal laugh. Horror drapes Southpaw’s face like a funeral shroud as he looks on at his own severed arm, limp and dangling, in Tony’s hand. Tracing the blood from the appendage to the burgeoning pool at tony’s feet, Southpaw looks up sharply, finding only empty space. The crisp white light of the door on the far end of the room slowly reveals a black crack, widening as the two sides fall away. The bisected corpse of the verdant creature peels away to reveal Tony, now behind him, silver blade dyed crimson in the faint light. One final slice into air cleans his blade, Tony lets out a single breathy laugh and walks towards the arena’s exit.
This Soxivus will continue, endless, until Tony La Russa wishes to end it.
Steam surrounds Tony La Russa as he hits the showers after the Game 4 loss to the Houston Astros.
The steam is soon accompanied by a familiar smell: tobacco. Tony turns to his right to see a shadowy figure through the veil of dampness.
A smoky voice echoes, “Good to see you again, old friend.” While Tony hears the words, perhaps a thousand times as they bounce back and forth across the tiles, he grasps for recognition of the voice. Jim Leyland, with a moist cigarette suspended from his lip, emerges from the steam and releases his hand from the white towel wrapped around his waist.
Frank Thomas, in a Nugenix-fueled rage, executes a Frank-ensteiner on Tony La Russa, pinning him and winning the White Sox manager belt.
His first act as manager is to get Menechino to submit to a Frankle Lock, taking on hitting coach duties and telling the hitters it’s OK to both hit .300 AND launch dongs every game. Later, Thomas forms a lethal tag-team with Ethan Katz, the pairing becoming known as The ThomKatz and ruling the AL Central territory for a decade.
We all know that this is just idle dreaming, since the incumbent will have the job for life (his and/or Jerry’s) and even if he were to be jailed for a year for his next DUI, Jerry would find some classmate he feels bad about being unkind to in fourth grade and hand the job to him. But, let us dream ...
The next White Sox manager should be a horse, specifically a Clydesdale, because Clydesdales are made for the job, given that they have four white socks. Sure, there will be naysayers who oppose carrying diversity to the extent of different species, but absolutely anybody can manage the White Sox to the championship of the pathetic AAAL Central, and we’ve just had a season with a horse’s ass for manager, so it would be a big improvement to have the entire animal, including the thinking end.
To designate lineups, a system could be employed similar to that of some rural school fundraisers, with various possibilities spread out around the GuRF and the one for that game being the first on which the manager makes a deposit. The Clydesdale would not only be sure to carry its weight and provide the only horse sense in the entire organizational management structure, but would be a whole lot more effective storming out of the dugout in a dispute than whatever dance the HOFBP was doing in Detroit.
But can you leave pitching change decisions to a horse, you ask? Of course not. That’s why he has an assistant, a pitcher-picking chicken. Some would suggest a rooster, but baseball needs more gender diversity, and it was famed baseball analyst Will Shakespeare himself who advised, “Get thee hens.” The chicken would go over to a box with sections for each possible reliever and peck at her selection. Since she is apt to be inexperienced, due to anti-fowl prejudices that have long dominated the sport, all the blather about whether a ball is fair or fowl, the human pitching coach would provide decision assistance by putting more desirable foods in certain boxes. But the final decision would be up the hen, and, of course, the horse.
It would be perfect solution, were it not for the impossibility of getting Jerry to have sufficient equine-imity (though he might be won over by his greed, given the obvious tie-in to a sponsor with very, very deep pockets). There may be some doubters at first, but in the end, when the division is won and White Sox stampede through the playoffs, the neigh-sayers would all be converted by the team’s success.
When the White Sox signed Adam Eaton, one of the benefits he was supposed to bring to the club was the same fiery mentality that A.J. Pierzynski brought to the team for their 2005 World Series run. That never came to fruition, and, frankly, this version of Tony La Russa is tracking to be closer to the Lou Piniella Cubs years than anything revolutionary: The only time La Russa brought fire was at his own team for hitting homers on 3-0 counts, or when Abreu got hit by pitches.
I can see Ken Williams and Rick Hahn still stewing in their respective offices over this blown season. Sure, they can publicly say it was a building year, but we all know that’s not true. Unfortunately, the only way Jerry would ever agree to remove La Russa from managing duties is if he gets moved elsewhere, and thus here’s my plan:
Promote La Russa to be special baseball advisor and ambassador and give him an honorary suite.
I’m sure he’ll agree to it — he won’t have to remember any more silly rules. He proved he can manage a playoff team and ride off in the sunset. Plus, he can still talk to Jerry all the time.
Now, to bring the fire that the Sox so desperately think they want, and looking outside the organization, I bring to you one of my favorite hotheads with Chicago ties: Lloyd McClendon.
You want fire? Not only did McClendon thrive under the guidance of Jim Leyland, but this man will also literally take first base to support his team. He made the Pittsburgh Pirates entertaining, and finished fourth in Manager of the Year voting with the Seattle Mariners in 2014. Plus, as someone that still resides in Northwest Indiana, McClendon would bring some local flavor to the team, without the incestuousness that has come from the recent revolving door of former White Sox players/coaches.
There, I’ve done the hard work for you, Ken and Rick. You can thank me later.
White Sox players decide to elect one of their own to take on Tony La Russa in a battle for the person most qualified to manage the team. After Tim Anderson treated the team to a pasta party, he gave an excellent sales pitch for why he should be the player of choice. So, the matchup between Anderson and La Russa was set.
Though the contest was intended to last 12 rounds and address various topics, it ended rather early. Round No. 1 was the battle for which candidate would be better at standing up for White Sox players. Needless to say, Anderson won so easily that the last 11 rounds were cancelled, and Anderson will become the first player-manager in the majors since 1986.
Let me just say that the answers above are phenomenal. They sway a little bit more over-the-top than I’m capable of writing just now, and besides, could there be a more over-the-top choice to manage than what the White Sox tricked us with a year ago? NONE OF THESE scenarios are weird than asking Tony back, and yes, livestock included.
My wish list is unrealistic. I’d love to see a true craftsman like Ichiro come to Chicago and lead this White Sox team. There was a time I felt that A.J. Pierzynski would have made a terrific captain as a player, or manager once retired, but woof, that ALDS broadcasting stint was ruff. A year ago, I thought Matt Quatraro (Tampa Bay Rays) would be an excellent candidate, fulfilling Chicago’s stated aim for excellence and fresh perspectives outside of the organization. (Likewise Dave Martinez would have been a great choice a decade ago, but Ken Williams was too busy pitching PK on becoming player-manager and then searching for four-star generals to conduct a proper search.)
But in my Feats of Strength, I am steering toward a tale of revenge, with a heavy dose of ludicrousness far more real than some of the tales told above.
Tony is not fit for the game any longer. He can hardly be blamed; managing might not be a young man’s game, but the days of Connie Mack in the dugout at 90 are gone, c’mon. Could a manager have done worse than Tony in 2021? Of course. The White Sox have employed several horrible managers over the years.
No, in this case, we bring Soxivus to a close with a return of the man wronged a year ago, who improved as a manager despite being mocked for his constipated crouch early in Game 3 of the 2020 playoffs and for his bullpen moves there as well. He’s loved in the clubhouse, and manages to support his players without resorting to meme-able moments or old-schooling his slugging DH out of the game for swinging at a strike in a blowout.
Yes, the warm smell of ceviche is rising up through the air.
Ricky’s back, baby, in a bloodless coup that allows Tim Anderson and José Abreu to again praise their manager without it coming across like prepared notes during another seizure of Stockholm Syndrome.
Year of the Hamster
I have the benefit of looking over all prior answers, as the person who is editing this story together. And I am downright shocked that my choice has not already come up.
My selection is outrageous, yet plausible. And, one day, it could happen. Deep breaths, people.
Who out there legitimately feels he has a claim to the big chair? And who out there is crazy enough to challenge, mano a mano or via the airwaves, Tony in a legit sort of Soxivus Feat of Strength, for real? And who has an army of minions, both blood-related and not, to serve his every whim?
Why, it’s Ozzie Guillén!
Ozzie wants to manage. He feels being White Sox manager is his birthright — certainly acted that way early in 2011, being “hurt” not getting an automatic extension to manage for life (or, multi-years), and late in 2011, when his All-In team was barely sniffing 50-50.
The old King Tony returns to his throne, finds himself weaker than he imagined, and is challenged by one of his very own “sons.” We’ve seen this play and watched this movie, and it probably wasn’t too good. But not only would Ozzie lobby for the gig in channels private and public, it would allow the White Sox and La Russa to settle this latest, debauched hire in a peaceable manner; Tony can ride off into the sunset (take the Cardinals job please please please please please) or get kicked upstairs as Tommy envisioned, bestowing his crown on a favored son (both of Tony, perhaps? and of “White Sox fans”). Jerry can right a “wrong” (after Ozzie kisses the ring, over and over and over and forever), Ken can sing a sort of redemption song for his former teammate and friend, and Hahn can be like, well, at least this is a little better than the last batch of b.s. Jerry foisted on me.
I mean, it’s not what I want. I wanted a real hiring process, yielding a really good manager (no, not dirty Hinch or recycled whatever, there are like 1,000 great men and women out there who could have crushed this job and taken us farther in 2021 than ... Ricky did in 2020). And by writing this I am not trying to cast Jefe Ozzie back into existence.
But it looms. With every clown move Ozzie makes on NBC, every tweet, every La Vida roundtable with La Familia Guillén, with every Latin player lured to the South Side by the leadership and clubhouse of the White Sox, it looms.
Llámame loca, but it looms.
We’ve had some crazy results in our Feats of Strength this Soxivus. Which will come to pass?
This poll is closed
Joab McEwing, after vanquishing Miguel Cairo
None (Tony reigns until the end of time)
Jim Leyland, four packs a day
Frank Thomas, drunk on Nugenix
Clydesdale, with hen pitching coach
Lloyd McClendon, thief of first base
Tim Anderson: player, pilot, pasta-eater
The Revenge of Ricky
Ozzie II: This Time It’s Gonna Last
Someone else (hard to imagine everything isn’t covered above, please explain your choice in the comments)