Monday, May 23, 2022

This Tony Deserves an Oscar


Tony La Russa's been around a long time, as this pic from the bad old days of the sartorially challenged Sox will tell you. 

He's a baseball lifer who was even on the field when The Mick hit his epic, 1963 blast into the rafters of the Original Yankee Stadium, the shot that shook loose the pigeons or the bats or what-have-you, depending on who's telling the story. 

The point is, he knows what he's doing. And what he was doing on Saturday involving the great Anderson-Donaldson kerfuffle was not right.


In the ChiSox clubhouse after the game, Tony put on a performance that deserved the full recognition of the Academy.

Had Josh Donaldson said something racist?

Yes, confirmed La Russa, setting his jaw grimly. It was racist.

Oh, asked the assembled press corps. What was it?

No, La Russa demurred, casting his eyes down to the floor, as if this seasoned old salt thought he had seen just about everything in this tired old world but this—this—took the cake. It was racist, was all he could say. And he was not about to repeat it.

The implication, of course—which someone as savvy and experienced as Tony La Russa must have known would be the case—was that what Donaldson had said was something truly horrible and obscene.

We all know the word I mean. I'm not even going to dignify it with its usual euphemism here. Obviously, it was supposed to be that word—or one of its close cousins—that Donaldson had spewed out. 

Except, as we learned, it was "Jackie." As in "Jackie Robinson."

Which, I completely agree would also be an appalling racial insult if Donaldson had just picked it out at random to apply to a Black player. Suspension, banishment, the works—if that was what he did, throw the book at him.

But as it turned out, "Jackie," in this case, referred to Tim Anderson calling HIMSELF "the new Jackie Robinson" in an SI piece in 2019. Which Donaldson has mocked him for ever since—claiming it started as a friendly joke between them.

Now, I don't take much exception to Anderson going off on this, during a hot, frustrating afternoon in the Bronx. Even the mildest insults get under the skin after a time. 

And maybe this one was said with a certain, racial insinuation—an intention that Anderson picked up when most of our white ears would be oblivious to it.

By most accounts, Donaldson sounds like a true, old-school asshole—'nother great pick-up, Coops, sure glad we don't have that Correa instead!—and maybe he did make that further insinuation.

But for La Russa to deliberately try to turn it into something much more gross and blatant...

Yes, Tony La Russa has been around for a long time.

This is the same Tony La Russa who swore up and down that he had no idea that his Oakland Athletics were juicing, even as the players he was managing were merrily shooting up in the bathroom stalls and blowing up to Macy's parade-balloon proportions before his eyes.

The same Tony La Russa who, for that matter, never had a word to say about Albert Pujols' 73-inch neck in the years he managed the Cardinals.

The same Tony La Russa who helped hang the sportswriters who first uncovered the juicing out to dry, rather than face the reality of what his own team was doing. 

PEDs were what first wrecked the balance of the game, nearly 35 years ago now; nearly all of the subsequent foibles in restoring it (or capitalizing upon it) can be traced back to what was going on in that A's lockerroom. 

Infinitely worse has been the massive wreckage of not only professionals but countless young, amateur ballplayers who thought that they, too, had to bulk themselves up by artificial means—and thereby did irreparable harm to body and mind.

But Tony La Russa still insists he didn't know a thing.  

Now, along comes a dust-up over what may or may not have been a racial implication. Of course it should not be taken lightly. Racism—and especially, white-on-Black racism—has long been the leading bane of this country, and there should be zero tolerance of it.  

But TLR decided that this was a good moment to pour a little fuel on the fire, incite misinformation, and tap into one of the most dangerous currents in America today...just to get his team rolling.  

It was a helluva performance. One that makes me think that La Russa ought to bow out on it, once and for all.


Carl J. Weitz said...

One might also say that LaRussa's condemnation over Colin Kaepernick's kneeling in 2016 were a sly racial dig at Black football players. You know, uppity trouble makers whose employers have every right to publicly get rid of them as Trump advised the owners. You know, for the purity and sanctity of the game.

Fuck him....sideways!

JM said...

You said it, Carl.

And I'll add that LaRussa looks like shit, along with acting like shit. He should be drinking bourbon on his porch somewhere, not on the baseball field.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hey, he's nearly 78!

But I didn't know that about Kaepernick. It would make him even more of a hypocrite.

The Archangel said...

HC66, your age-ist remark about that adorable old codger is totally out of line.

If he was a few years older, he could be President.
I, unlike you, venerate our seasoned citizens and worship the ground that the old shits shit on.

The Hammer of God said...

LaRussa's got to back his own player, so I'm not surprised that he'd say it was racist. Same as Boone saying he doesn't think it was racist. Because Boone has to back his player.

Perhaps it started out as a joke from Donaldson, but then perhaps it started to take on racist overtones. Maybe it was the way he said it. So maybe it was racist, maybe it wasn't. Depends on Donaldson's state of mind at the time he said it. Something not easily discerned by us after the fact. All Donaldson can do is to apologize, move on, and not do it again.

I don't know a lot of LaRussa. Just that he graduated law school. One thing I did hear about him from a long time ago during a Yankee radio broadcast. LaRussa used to call Ruben Sierra "the Village Idiot". Which is a term that could have racist implications. Maybe Sierra deserved the moniker for striking out too much, I don't know. But did LaRussa call white players Village Idiots too if and when they sucked? Don't know.