When the Chicago White Sox hired Tony La Russa as their manager this past offseason, it signified the team was looking for old-school leadership.
There was plenty of questioning about how the 78-year-old La Russa would mesh with the young and effervescent talent in the Sox clubhouse. Before last night, everything had gone smoothly, but now we're seeing some philosophical differences pop up.
In Monday night's 16-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, White Sox designated hitter Yermin Mercedes blasted a long solo home run off Twins utility player Willians Astudillo on a 3-0 count in the top of the ninth inning. In doing so, Mercedes seemingly violated one of baseball's "unwritten rules."
Today, La Russa said that Mercedes "made a mistake" and will deal with "a consequence he has to endure here within our family." This isn't surprising, given La Russa's reputation as a baseball traditionalist.
There are many who would argue that a player shouldn't swing for the fences on a 3-0 count while up 11 runs and facing an opposing position player. However, there are plenty of people around MLB who think La Russa is being too harsh here.
It would be interesting to learn what exactly the consequences were for what Mercedes did. After all, the guy is slashing .364/.410/.574 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 36 games this year, and the Chicago's record is an MLB-best 25-15.
La Russa is entitled to manage his team his way, but he probably doesn't want to mess around too much considering the early season success the Pale Hose are having.