Are the White Sox about to party like it’s 1983?
A day after the World Series wrapped up and the offseason officially began, there was increased buzz tying Tony La Russa to the White Sox managerial vacancy.
This is hardly the first time the White Sox have been tied to their former manager since the search for a new skipper started, when the team parted ways with Rick Renteria more than two weeks ago. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale told Our Chuck Garfien that “it’s La Russa’s job to lose.”
But Wednesday brought reports that indicated the idea of La Russa returning to the South Side is a serious one.
The Score’s Bruce Levine tweeted that La Russa has talked about potential additions to a coaching staff. That was in line with what the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Rick Hummel reported: that La Russa’s longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan was asked to be a part of a White Sox staff and declined.
Despite hearing La Russa — the 76-year-old Hall of Famer with a close personal relationship with team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf — tied to the opening for weeks, the idea of such a hire still strikes as somewhat shocking. The White Sox have been laser-focused on the long-term future throughout their rebuilding process. Now, on the verge of a new winning era, they could turn to someone who Nightengale described as potentially being hired on a short-term basis.
Indeed, La Russa boasts an incredible resume and tons of winning experience. He’s won three World Series championships as a manager, first with the Oakland Athletics in 1989, then with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. He knows what it takes to get a team to the pinnacle of the sport.
But past that, La Russa doesn’t seem to fit the White Sox own description of their ideal managerial candidate. General manager Rick Hahn said the team would ideally hire someone with recent postseason managerial experience for a championship organization. La Russa, who hasn’t managed since 2011, would test the definition of the word “recent.”
Hahn also said the team would likely hire someone from outside the organization, admitting that the White Sox have been too “insular” in their managerial hires of late, which obviously includes former star players Ozzie Guillén and Robin Ventura, as well as Renteria, who served as Ventura’s bench coach. La Russa would technically be an outside hire, but he remains a former member of the organization — a former manager, at that — and someone who has remained close to Reinsdorf for decades.
The idea of La Russa returning to the South Side wouldn't have its obvious reasoning, with Reinsdorf having said that letting La Russa go in 1986 is his biggest regret in baseball. This is Reinsdorf's team, and La Russa is a proven winner.
But that same idea also seems to significantly contrast with much of what Hahn has said not just since announcing the managerial change a couple weeks ago but since the rebuild started at the end of 2016.