We need to talk about Tony

The La Russa experiment has had its share of high-profile mistakes just 29 games into the season.

We need to talk about Tony

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Good morning, frents!

There's Aaron Rodgers drama, resurrected Deshaun Watson trade talk and Russell Wilson rumors that won't die and I gotta say it's nice to not have to think about all of it too hard as a Bears fan desperate for a QB.

The Justin Fields era is already paying off!

Wednesday's results
Reds 1, Sox 0 (10)
Cubs 6, Dodgers 5 (11)

Today's schedule
Hawks at Hurricanes (6, NBCSCH)
Bulls at Hornets (6, NBCSCH)
Cubs/Sox off


Reds 1, Sox 0

You've probably heard by now, but the mounting case against Hall of Famer Baseball Person added another episode on Wednesday.

And it might've been the weirdest chapter yet.

For those who missed it:

  • Tony La Russa sent out $54 million closer Liam Hendriks to run from second base in extra innings of Wednesday's scoreless tie in Cincinnati, unaware of the rule that pitchers aren't required to run if they occupy the last lineup spot to bat. (The duties could have reverted to Jose Abreu, who was two spots back.)
  • After a Yasmani Grandal walk and a Leury Garcia fielder's choice, La Russa called for Garcia to try and steal second against Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart. Garcia was promptly thrown out.
  • Billy Hamilton then struck out, stranding his reliever at third and allowing the Reds to take the game with two singles off Hendriks in the bottom of the inning.

"I'm guessing you know the rules better," La Russa said to The Athletic's J.R. Fegan after he explained the rule. "Now I know."

And — all together now, fellow GI Joe fans — knowing is half the battle!

Here's the thing, though: The Sox are 29 games into the season and it seems like at least a quarter of them have ended with La Russa going snakehouse on Zoom. If you were one of the optimists who thought TLR's three World Series rings and 2,700+ managerial wins would quickly win every skeptic over ... well ....  you're still waiting.

Instead, those of us who questioned why Jerry Reinsdorf would injure this year's chances by trying to rectify a 35-year-old mistake literally no one else seems to regret that much— not even La Russa!— are regrettably feeling vindicated.

Is it too late to add "Told You So" to "Next Man Up" as one of the unofficial slogans for the 2021 Sox season?

Look, we know that the impact of any single manager on any single season isn't that great.

A couple of wins either way, at most.

If the Sox miss the playoffs, early injuries to big stars and an unimpressive offseason will likely be the two biggest culprits.

At the same time, both of those factors are cutting down the margin of error for the team and possibly bringing that manager impact into play.

Imagine if the Sox miss out because their manager didn't know about a rule that Reds manager David Bell said was made clear to everyone in spring training?

Even if they don't, La Russa's presence is already a net negative on the 2021 experience, which I feared last fall. After a breakout 2020 that made South Side baseball fun again, we're spending 2021 in La Russa's backseat as he careens between bad lineup choices, decisions like Wednesday's and reports he's already losing the clubhouse.

It's not exactly how you want to follow a team for 162 games.

Is there a part of me who thinks La Russa comes up with an excuse to step aside early this season because the reality of a comeback at age 76 isn't quite what he thought it'd be?

It's crossed my mind a few times.

But La Russa might also be the only person in baseball who can rival Reinsdorf's stubbornness. If that's the case, let's hope he spends today's off day brushing up on any other new rules he might have missed.

News and results

Final: Cubs 6, Dodgers 5 (11)

Tony La Russa didn't get a chance to make up for his mistake in extra innings, but Tony Rizzo did later in the night.

Rizzo allowed the Dodgers to score the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th after he failed to step on first base when starting what would've been an inning-ending double play.

But given the chance to win it in the bottom of the inning, Rizzo stroked a RBI single and then eluded his teammates as they tried to corral him at Wrigley Field.

What's the hold up on the extension again, Ricketts family?

  • Joc Pederson is probably the person happiest for Rizzo's highlight-worthy walkoff, though it didn't stop him from trending on Twitter for bat-flipping a sac fly.
  • The win gave the Cubs a three-game sweep over the Dodgers at Wrigley for the first time since 2008. Los Angeles has lost 13 of 17 games after starting the season 13-2.

Next: The Cubs moved to one game under .500 (15-16) with the Pirates coming to town for three games starting Friday. Can they keep the momentum going?

  1. Panthers coach Matt Rhule explains why he passed on Justin Fields last Thursday. Sports Illustrated
  2. Dan Wetzel says "Jerry Krause" is a weak insult for Aaron Rodgers to lob against his GM. Yahoo Sports
  3. Zach LaVine detailed his bout with COVID for the media. He should be back in action against the Hornets tonight. NBC Sports Chicago
  4. What the scouts are saying about the performances of each Blackhawks player this season. The Athletic
  5. The 30 best new restaurants in Chicago. The Infatuation