It’s not new for some basement blogger like me to rip Tony La Russa a new one, as I did yesterday after his dumb, hypocritical comments about Colin Kaepernick. It’s another thing for the baseball establishment to do so. But they’re starting to.
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan laid into the Hall of Fame manager in a column late last night, and he didn’t pull any punches:
Tony La Russa, a convicted drunk driver who managed one of the most steroid-addled clubhouses in modern baseball history and today oversees an organization that at the trade deadline passed along to multiple organizations private medical information about a player it wanted to deal, spent Wednesday playing moralist, a role that suits him about as well as chief baseball officer for a major league franchise.
Passan went on to deftly contextualize the ridiculousness of a man like La Russa professing to speak wise about what young black athletes experience and what they think about baseball and society.
It’s hard to disagree with what Passan says. It’s more notable in my mind, however, that he even said it. There is a habit in baseball media of deferring to experience and authority. Often times it’s well-placed deference, as it’s undeniable that a man like La Russa has greater insight to the sorts of topics that normally come up in the grand baseball conversation than any of us do. Sometimes, though, that deference is because, well, it can be hard to do your job if you piss off Tony La Russa or men like him.
We’ve reached a tipping point with La Russa, I suspect. He’s several years removed from a job where it was folly to criticize him (or, if you did, where you could expect some pretty pointed blowback). He has demonstrated a less-than-high aptitude for his current position. And, with yesterday’s comments, he showed that, when he’s talking about something other than baseball, he’s a reactionary old man who, with all due respect, is talking out of his ass.
Now the knives are out for him. I suspect there will be a lot more stabbing in the coming days.