PHOENIX — Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf looked at the scoreboard Sunday afternoon, cringed at the outcome it displayed, and then saw No. 22 slowly leaving the dugout.
There was Tony La Russa, walking off the field after managing his first game in over nine years – 3,411 days to be exact – and his first game as White Sox manager in 35 years.
“That’s it, I’m going to give him one more game,’’ Reinsdorf cracked. “I hope he doesn’t push me.’’
The White Sox lost 7-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers in a meaningless, six-inning spring training game, but in typical La Russa fashion, he acted as if they lost a critical September game during the pennant stretch.
“I think you've got to practice winning,’’ La Russa said. “You get 30 chances [during spring training games] so you don't want to wait until Opening Day. Whether the team or a manager, you're supposed to be using those games to anticipate and make decisions.
“That's why I like it, in the sense that when I get to Opening Day or October, there really isn't any difference in the concentration and the process.’’
It’s this approach, of course, that made La Russa one of the greatest managers in baseball. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 and, with 2,728 wins, is just 35 wins away from tying John McGraw for the second-most victories by a manager in baseball history.
And, of course, passing McGraw would give La Russa the most wins by any manager who didn’t own his own team, Reinsdorf points out. Connie Mack sits atop the leader board with 3,731 wins.
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