The Chicago White Sox drew a great deal of criticism when they hired Tony La Russa as their manager prior to the 2021 season. Many people felt the game had passed La Russa by and that he would not be able to relate to players, but it does not appear those concerns were warranted.
After the White Sox were eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, several Chicago players had high praise for their manager. Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon said it has been “a pleasure” to play for La Russa. First baseman Gavin Sheets, who is only 25, said White Sox players felt all year that La Russa was in their corner.
Carlos Rodón on Tony La Russa:
"Tony's a very special manager. … He brings a lot of experience into the clubhouse. He's seen a lot of baseball games. A very wise man. Just a pleasure to play for him."
Gavin Sheets adds: "He's been in every one of our corners the whole time."
— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) October 12, 2021
La Russa led the White Sox to a 93-69 record in the regular season. They won their first division title since 2008. From a results standpoint, it certainly looks like Chicago made the right hire.
That isn’t to say La Russa made all the right moves, because he definitely had some flubs in his return to managing after a decade off. However, the talk of a 77-year-old manager not being the right fit for the clubhouse was seemingly overblown.