Tony La Russa will be back for another season as the South Side skipper.
That has seemed the most expected outcome, La Russa talking at the end of the 2021 season about his desire to return to his post and the things that will be a focus for the team come spring training.
But the 77-year-old stuck to a career-long approach when asked about his future after the end of the American League Division Series, putting it on ownership and the players to determine whether he would return.
"The process I've used — well, once I had a little security, probably about the fifth or sixth year — is: Do they want you back?" he said immediately after the White Sox were eliminated from the playoffs. "You don't want to come back (just) because you got a contract. I would just leave if they don't want you back. (If) they say yes, then you ask the players. They should choose who they want to manage. If you get both of those, then you check yourself.
"You check and see whether you've got the desire to continue to manage. I do.
"A lot of people that know me know that that's what I go through. I think it's a fair thing. It's fair to the ownership, fair to the players. (That way) you don't get stuck with a guy that doesn't belong there."
La Russa added then that he and these White Sox "have more to do," and obviously he's right. La Russa was hired to take this team to baseball's promised land, something he's done three times in his near-incomparable career as a major league manager.
In 2021, he did win a division title and brought playoff baseball back to the South Side — two things that hadn't been done in 13 years — but the team failed the mission they'd been talking about since the spring. Not only did the White Sox not win the World Series, they won the same amount of playoff games, one, as they did in 2020, after which the front office made a managerial change.
La Russa pointed out in his talk with Sullivan, as he did when the season ended earlier this month, that the disappointing playoff exit shouldn't obscure what the White Sox did accomplish in 2021. And despite playing in a weak American League Central, they overcame a series of seemingly devastating injuries to run away with the division crown and establish themselves as true contenders.
Their loss in the ALDS, however, seemed to show how great a gap there was between them and the team that beat them, and eventually won the pennant, the Houston Astros, who are currently vying for their second World Series title in five years.
If the White Sox did follow La Russa's longstanding philosophy and checked in with his players, it's likely they received plenty of ringing endorsements. That's what team leaders José Abreu and Tim Anderson provided when they spoke with reporters in the days following the team's elimination.
"I couldn't be more happy with what he did. The relationship was great, overall, with the players," Anderson said. "As far as speaking from a player's standpoint, for sure, I definitely want him in. I think he did a great job with the way he managed and just being open. ... You know when we took the field, we were going to go out and play hard for him and give him everything we got. I'm very pleased with him."
"I'm pretty sure he's going to come back," Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "He won't leave us alone. He's going to be with us."
According to La Russa himself, the White Sox' MVP first baseman is right.