It's August 2nd, 1979, The Amityville Horror is the #1 movie in America, gas is 86 CENTS a gallon, Comiskey Park is still smoldering from Disco Demolition Night a few weeks prior and a 34 year old Tony La Russa is making his managerial debut.
When he retired 32 years later in 2011, Tony was a 3x World Series Champion, 4x Manager of the Year and 3rd all time in Managerial wins. In 2014 he was inducted into Cooperstown.
There's no denying that Tony La Russa is one of the greatest Managers of all time; the last game he managed was Game 7 of the 2011 World Series where he won his third ring. He even has the seal of approval from one of the greatest football coaches of all time.
We all know I didn't follow baseball this year in the wake of the Boston Red Sox willingly cursing themselves again, but this move has me scratching my head so hard that I might touch my brain. I didn't pay attention to the 60 game fake season and I already feel like the game has passed me by. This is coming from somebody who can list every World Series result since 1955!
Obviously Tony La Russa is a baseball lifer and has been paying attention to the game, but do you think a 76 year old who hasn't managed in almost a decade is the right guy to lead this version of the Chicago White Sox?
We're eight iPhones past the last time Tony filled out a lineup card. Think about that. FaceTime was new the last time Tony was calling the shots for a Major League team. Now the entire planet is a zoom meeting. I get not wanting to accept that you're on the back two of life and still having that itch to compete, but that's what backgammon is for my guy. Dude managed before games were broadcasted in color. Why would a 76 year old want to manage? It's so sad. It's like when I see retired teachers coming back to sub. Don't you have grandkids that you should hang out with before you die? At least I can understand the retired teachers needing the $100 a day. You really want to be in Kansas City or Arlington in the middle of July when you should be watching a documentary on Uboats sucking on Werther's Originals? White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is looking like Lindsay Graham in this clip.
I know time can be a hard concept to grasp, but Tony La Russa literally was managing in the 1970's. Is Cloris Leachman going to coach 3rd base?
Sure, we're about to either keep a 74 year old racist orange in charge of our country or throw the keys to a 77 year old who probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel, but Tony La Russa was managing the White Sox during Iran Hostage Crisis. A lot has changed since his debut and even more since he last managed.
Bill Belichick has been coaching in the NFL at some capacity since 1975, so it's not to say it's impossible for a Hall of Famer who's returning to the dugout to be successful, but Bill is also only 68 compared to Tony's 76 and never took a decade off. What is his five you plan? Don't die?
Maybe Tony took a page out of Mike McCarthy's playbook and lied about getting into analytics while he was out of coaching/managing?
It looks like the well respected and beloved Jerry Reinsdorf just couldn't get past the one he let slip away IN 1986. Hopefully Tony doesn't slip and fall in the shower and break his hip because these guys are counting on him! Now put your teeth in and play ball!
I still haven't decided if I can ever love baseball the way I once did, but knowing the White Sox dug up Tony La Russa to manage has me at least a little intrigued for the 2021 MLB Season.
P.S. It it pretty cool to see an active Hall of Famer return to the game, there hasn't been an active HOFer managing since Connie Mack, but Connie Mack was Tony La Russa's 8th grade shop teacher. There's old school and then there's using an abacus to time a player's home to first speed. If fans are back next season I picture the Crowd at Guarantee Rate Field (one of the worst names in all of sports) to look something like this.