Sports

Tony La Russa has soft, problematic response to Twins throwing at Yermin Mercedes


Who does Tony La Russa manage, again? Because his postgame comments Tuesday night certainly sound like it’s not the White Sox.

After a two-day kerfuffle that featured Yermin Mercedes doing his job correctly and the Twins trying to massage their bruised egos by throwing at him Tuesday, La Russa delivered a predictably soft and reprehensible response to the revenge attempt.

“I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it,” the 76-year-old La Russa said.

MORE: Ranking baseball’s five dumbest unwritten rules

Really, Tony? A manager essentially saying, “Yeah, I’m cool with the other dudes throwing at my guy for hitting a home run” isn’t the best look. It’s an even worse look when you consider that teammates are supporting Mercedes, with shortstop Tim Anderson posting his appreciation of Mercedes on Instagram.

Being a baseball player is one of two jobs in the world for which you can be punished for doing your job correctly; the other, a cast member on MTV’s “Jackass.”

That’s slightly fitting, considering that there are still donkeys in MLB policing lame unwritten rules, with players getting in their feelings all too often.

Mercedes found that out the hard way when Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey decided to throw behind him Tuesday night. La Russa left his player out to dry with his postgame comments, a staple of the old-school baseball attitude that’s on life support with the direction MLB is moving. Still, it’s problematic.

Imagine the NBA if someone pulled a flagrant foul on Steph Curry after Curry’s signature chest tap and point following a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Picture the NFL with players helmet-hunting opponents after a touchdown dance.

FAGAN: If we’re lucky, MLB’s future won’t include La Russa types

Listen, sports are a place for fragile egos. There’s just too much testosterone involved, and these guys are hardwired to compete from the moment they first throw a baseball. The Sox, now sitting at 25-16, have been winning despite La Russa’s crusty attitude this year, which should offer some modicum of relief for a core that’s on the ascent.

Still, for every Yermin Mercedes or Tim Anderson, there’s a Tony La Russa or a Tyler Duffey, unfortunately.

It’s a paradigm that seems to be shifting, even if guys like La Russa are keeping the old-school mentality on life support.


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