By Sam Fretto
It’s finally happened. Tony La Russa has announced his retirement from the Chicago White Sox, due to health-related issues. This comes after a disappointing Chicago White Sox season in which they finished 81-81 with serious playoff hopes.
Coming off a successful season in 2021 that saw the White Sox finish 93-69 and winning the AL Central, people were still very skeptical about Tony La Russa and his abilities, including me. Tony made very head-scratching decisions throughout the season such as the times he would change pitchers, the lineups he would put out, and his infatuation with Leury Garcia. However, the most egregious thing Tony did in 2021 was leaving closer Liam Hendriks in the game to run the bases in extra innings because he did not know the rules.
Going into the 2022 season, Tony had a chance to change the narrative and lead this promising White Sox team to back-to-back division titles, something the franchise has never seen in its entire existence. Instead, fans got more of the same from Tony La Russa. His infatuation with Leury Garcia remained, despite him being the fifth least-valuable player in all of baseball with at least 300 plate appearances. He kept pitchers in for too long on multiple occasions and it would turn good outings from starters to bad outings and leave the White Sox down in the game. His lineup construction became wackier as injuries decimated the White Sox and he had to make a lot of changes.
This season when Tony was acting as manager, he used the same lineup just twice. However, the most egregious thing he may have done this year was intentionally walking batters that were down 1-2 in the count, not once, but twice.
From the beginning, it seemed clear that the game of baseball had passed up Tony La Russa. He came out of retirement after a 10-year absence from managing (he was still involved in the front offices of Arizona and Anaheim) because owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to fix a mistake from 40 years ago. Not only did this cost the team but it also cost the health of Tony La Russa.
In February, the nearly 78-year-old had a pacemaker installed and was cleared by doctors to begin Spring Training. Unfortunately, a complication was found that made him step away from the team on August 30th. He was later advised not to return to managing.
I wish Tony the best but there was no reason for him to ever come out of retirement. I think everyone including Tony will want to forget this disastrous second stint with the Chicago White Sox.
Tony La Russa steps away from baseball with a 2902-2514 record, 6 World Series Appearances, 3 World Series Championships, and a Hall of Fame induction across 35 years of managing.