Tony La Russa ‘Didn’t Have a Problem’ With Twins Throwing Behind Yermín Mercedes

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: Tony La Russa’s disappointing reaction to a beanball attempt against his star player, yet another MLB no-hitter and more.
Author:
Publish date:

How could he not stand up for his player?

When I led Tuesday’s Hot Clicks with Yermín Mercedes’s 3–0 homer off Willians Astudillo, I didn’t expect it to become the driving event in a multi-day news cycle. Sure, Mercedes violated baseball’s ancient, informal code of honor by giving himself the green light, but nobody on the Twins seemed too mad about it. It could have easily blown over, except one very important person was mad about it: Mercedes’s own manager, Tony La Russa.

“He made a mistake,” La Russa told reporters before Tuesday night’s game against the Twins. “There will be a consequence he has to endure here within our family.”

“The fact that he’s a rookie and excited helps explain why he just was clueless. But now he’s got a clue,” he added later in his extended diatribe.

Whining to the press about his player’s actions won’t help La Russa’s relationship with anybody in the clubhouse, but what the 76-year-old manager said after the game was even worse.

In the top of the seventh, Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw a 93 mph pitch behind Mercedes and was ejected (as was Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli).

And what was La Russa’s reaction? Did he stand up for his player and say that a dangerous beanball is never the way to solve a dispute? No, he took the Twins’ side.

“The guy threw a sinker,” La Russa said. “It didn’t look good. So I wasn’t that suspicious. I’m suspicious if somebody throws at somebody’s head. I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that.

“What did they do? The guy might have just been trying to get a sinker in. We don’t read minds. I’m not going to read their mind, and I’m not going to second-guess the umpire when it’s his judgment. The ball was thrown at somebody’s head, and then you don’t give anybody the benefit of the doubt.”

La Russa is right that it’s difficult to know the pitcher’s intentions, but watch Duffey’s pitch a couple of times. The ball didn’t slip out of his hand, certainly not enough to end up three feet off the plate. And he really got everything behind it—93 mph is above his average velocity for the season.

The idea that only a pitch at a player’s head is worth getting angry about is also ridiculous. Major league pitchers have good control, but it’s not pinpoint accuracy. Duffey could have easily tried to hit Mercedes in the a-- and drilled him in the ribs or the knee instead.

It’s embarrassing that La Russa wouldn’t automatically stand up for one of his players after they were targeted with a dangerous pitch. Regardless of his thoughts on the 3–0 swing, the risk of physical harm should be where La Russa draws the line. How can White Sox players be excited to show up to work when they can’t expect their boss to have their back? This is a team that entered the season with World Series aspirations. Hopefully this doesn’t drive a wedge in between parts of the clubhouse. 

The best of SI

The NBA playoffs will be an opportunity for many of the game’s biggest stars to rewrite the narratives of their careers. ... The NBA’s famed superfans are ready for their playoff moments. ... Finding a good solution to Harry Kane’s transfer request won’t be easy

Around the sports world

ESPN is making a six-part documentary on Derek Jeter (with Jeter’s involvement, of course). ... Stanford is changing course and will not cut 11 varsity sports programs. ... Former Louisville assistant Dino Gaudio faces federal extortion charges. ... Jeremy Lin posted a message on Twitter that seemed to be hinting at retirement

That’s five no-hitters already this season

Shohei Ohtani is unstoppable right now

You won’t see many goals softer than this

Kevin Pillar’s face is all jacked up after that hit-by-pitch

Sabrina Ionescu is the youngest WNBA player (and just the 10th ever) to record a triple double

Jayson Tatum had 50 in the Celtics’ play-in victory

He’s got the jersey on under his dress shirt like some kind of wack Superman

I can’t decide if I love this or hate it

That’s an unfortunate name for a DB

Why does the photo make it look like he’s dead?

Not sports

McDonald’s franchisees have figured out how to stop the ice cream machine from breaking: disable a key safety feature. ... A lost Italian village submerged under a lake by the creation of a dam 70 years ago has re-emerged as the water level dropped.

Charles Grodin died on Tuesday. I saw Midnight Run for the first time recently and he was so good

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.