‘Upset’ Tony La Russa defends unwritten rules, calls out own player after Yermin Mercedes’ 3-0 home run


During Monday night’s White Sox-Twins game, Yermin Mercedes blasted a 429-foot home run. The ninth-inning homer was the standout rookie’s sixth home run of the season. The homer, which came off a 3-0 pitch — a 47 mph eephus — from position player Willians Astudillo, triggered a few fans hanging on to the ‘unwritten rules’ of the game. With the White Sox up 15-4 in the ninth, apparently, Mercedes was supposed to stop trying.

Here’s a look at the homer:

The home run even garnered disapproval from Mercedes’ own manager, with Hall of Famer Tony La Russa telling reporters (including Jesse Rogers of ESPN) that the 3-0 homer “upset” him because he was supposed to take a pitch.

“He made a mistake,” La Russa said. “There will be a consequence he has to endure here within our family.”

Put aside the fact that the 76-year-old La Russa sounds like he’s trying to echo Tony Soprano with that quote, and let’s try to break that down, shall we? In baseball, when is it considered a “mistake” to hit a home run? And, what kind of “consequence” will the 28-year-old Dominican Republic native be subjected to when he’s helping his team get another run and improving his own individual statistics?

Last year when a similar outrage occurred following San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 3-0 count grand slam — albeit the outrage came from the opposing team not his own manager. Several MLB players supported Tatis and blasted baseball’s ‘unwritten rules,” including pitchers and Hall of Famers alike. Here at CBS Sports, all five of our staff writers were unanimous in the agreement that it’s completely fine to swing 3-0 with the bases loaded and a large run lead.

La Russa dug further into his stance when he told The Athletic’s James Fegan, “I heard he said something like, ‘I play my game.’ No he doesn’t. He plays the game of Major League Baseball, respects the game, respects the opponents. And he’s got to respect the signs.”

This one sounds a lot like the Old Man Yells At Cloud meme. Furthermore, it’s awkward and completely in contrast to the fun, young and bold White Sox players. When owner Jerry Reinsdorf brought La Russa out of retirement to manage the club, we debated whether the hiring would backfire. For the most part, we were confused but cautiously optimistic. Things appeared to be heading in the right direction after White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said he was “110 percent” behind La Russa following a one-on-one meeting this spring.

However, with Tuesday’s comments from La Russa, things could quickly begin to unravel within the clubhouse. La Russa doesn’t fit with the White Sox, nor does he fit into the modern MLB landscape and the direction that the league is hoping to continue moving toward. It’s hard to see how La Russa will stay connected with the exciting and outspoken players on this White Sox team after these acrimonious remarks against one of his own players.

In Monday’s 16-4 win, Mercedes went 3 fo -6 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and three RBI. Through 36 games, Mercedes is hitting .364/.410/.574 (177 OPS+) with six homers and 25 RBI. Mercedes is batting cleanup as designated hitter in Tuesday night’s game two of the three-game series vs. Minnesota. We’ll see if he hits any more anger-inducing dingers.





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