The Chicago White Sox lost two of the three games over the weekend. The team needed a lift and got the opposite, losing to a sub.500 Texas Rangers team. However, the losses aren’t what stood out per se. Instead, the White Sox once again looked like a team that was checked out or running on fumes.
The loss in extras on Sunday only put the fans out of their misery, the misery of an awful weekend. The White Sox are now 27-31. They trail the Minnesota Twins by six games for the divisional lead and the Cleveland Guardians, who to their credit have overachieved this year, by three games.
Moreover, the weekend went from bad to worse. Starting with the starting pitcher who has been the team’s best this year.
Kopech goes down to injury
Michael Kopech has been the pleasant surprise of the season. A pitcher the fans have anticipated for years is finally making an impact at a major league level. Kopech has found his fastball, making it arguably the best pitch in baseball this season, and has effectively mixed in his other pitches, allowing him to carry an otherwise struggling White Sox team. Unfortunately, the issues that have prevented him from impacting the team, once again, got him.
Michael Kopech left the game with right knee discomfort. He is being further evaluated.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 12, 2022
In the first inning, Kopech felt discomfort in his right knee and left the game. After the game, reports varied about the severity of the injury, with the pitcher feeling a pop in his knee. While Kopech could return for his next start, any injury involving the knee of a pitcher can’t be taken lightly. After all, those types of issues, especially worsened could be career-altering.
Lance Lynn will start tomorrow, Dylan Cease is starting Tuesday and his bullpen appearance today was about readying for that. Wednesday’s starter is up in the air.
Tony La Russa both said that Michael Kopech felt a pop in his knee, but also that he could start Sunday
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) June 12, 2022
The best that fans could hope is that Kopech was cautiously removed from the game. The 26-year-old starter than can and will return for his next start. However, in an already brutal weekend, this just made matter worse. One of the few things that were going right for the White Sox was their pitching, particularly starting pitching and now, it could be without its found gem.
La Russa’s incompetence
The weekend was a spillover from Thursday’s loss and the aftermath of it all. Since being hired, there have been questions about whether manager Tony La Russa was right for the team. Could La Russa, lead this team to a World Series, something this roster is capable of reaching. Now, the question isn’t about whether he should be the manager at the end of the season, but rather if he should be the manager by the end of the week.
La Russa has always been an old-school, play it by the feel of the game type of manager. The idea of feeling out the game in an otherwise analytical world has been questioned, even last year. However, the White Sox kept winning, despite the manager behind the bench. A manager doesn’t have much effect on the team’s success but the few things that can be controlled should be done right. Against the Dodgers, fans saw what might have been the worst decision of La Russa’s tenure with the team.
"When was the last time you saw somebody intentionally walked on 1-2?"
"Doesn't happen often."
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) June 9, 2022
With two strikes, La Russa called for an intentional walk to put two runners on base, a move that sent shockwaves throughout the baseball universe. Naturally, the next batter hit a three-run home run, essentially putting a dagger into the game, and possibly the season. The decision was bad enough but the response only made matters worse. Good managers (and star players) own up to their mistakes and most importantly take the heat in the postgame when the team losses. La Russa instead did this.
Tony La Russa defends his decision to walk Trae Turner on a 1-2 count pic.twitter.com/hyhUQgTtXa
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) June 9, 2022
The sad part is that these postgame pressers are nothing new. It only irritates the fans more when they see La Russa push aside blame, throw other players and coaches under the bus, point to the media or stats, or even people who didn’t manage the game as long as him as scapegoats, act aloof to something that happened in the game, and lastly double down on mistakes that everyone (including himself) know he did. The weekend just saw the frustration boil over as the home crowd turned on the skipper.
FIRE TONY pic.twitter.com/xOMdUJiQME
— Jack (@WhiteSox_Jack) June 11, 2022
Should the White Sox fire La Russa?
Generally, followers of the game of baseball shouldn’t be advocates of firing managers. There wasn’t a rejoice over Joe Girardi’s firing or Joe Maddon’s firing, both of which happened this week.
It’s hard to become a manager and remain one, especially in the cutthroat environment that is the MLB. However, fans are understandably frustrated at a manager who seems to only hurt his team. This was supposed to be a fun year for the White Sox. A year where the team not only looked like the best in the division but one of the best in baseball, shaping up to become one of the World Series rosters. Instead, the team looked checked out, drained, and at times, treading water just to play .500 ball.
It honestly should anger the ownership, especially when the fans at your park have little satisfaction from the team, starting with the manager. If I were general manager Rick Hahn (and I’m not) I would just let Ethan Katz or one of the bench coaches clean up the mess. There’s only that much worse they can do to a team than La Russa has already done to this one.
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