Being accountable scores La Russa early points with White Sox
When he was last in the dugout, in 2011 with the Cardinals, Tony La Russa didn't have to deal with the proliferation of ticked off fans airing him on social media for every managerial misstep.
Times have changed on that front, for the much worse.
Nowadays, the Bridgeport_Bobs and SouthSideSallys are out in force, treating every inning of the marathon season like it's Game 7 of the World Series.
La Russa does have a Twitter account, hopefully which he had switched to off Wednesday after the White Sox blew a late 4-1 lead at Seattle and lost 8-4.
For whatever reason, La Russa let reliever Matt Foster stay in the game and give up 5 runs on 5 hits and a walk while throwing 34 pitches.
Sox fans were livid, to put it mildly, and La Russa's postgame reaction figured to be telling.
Would he lay the blame on Foster? Credit the Mariners for keeping the line moving and rallying for the win? Ignore the whole meltdown?
La Russa took a different tact.
Not only did he take full blame, La Russa beat himself up as bad or worse than his detractors on social media.
"That's lousy managing," La Russa said. "Pushed him too far. Stupid, lousy, no excuse."
Stepping up and pointing the finger at himself was a pretty slick move. La Russa's decision for choosing that path after hitting an early fork in the road was duly noted in the clubhouse and front office.
"Tony's a Hall of Fame manager for a reason," White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "I think he's got broad shoulders, he can take some blame when he wants to."
Coming back to manage the Sox after being away from the dugout for a decade, La Russa could have been quick to throw his players under the bus when things went wrong.
He could have been arrogant and out of touch.
So far, he's stayed out of the spotlight as much as possible and heaped praise on his players at nearly every opportunity.
He's also held himself accountable.
"Everybody loves to see accountability, no matter whether it's a player, a manager or a front office guy, a politician, whatever," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "Everyone likes to see someone stand up there and take responsibility. Tony's probably harder on Tony than anyone is in terms of being critical of his decision-making.
"Perhaps he's putting a little too much at his own doorstep for (Wednesday's) result. But certainly, it is not a surprise given what I've come to know of him, that he's standing up for what he believes in and is very critical of his own performance."
Winning is the thing La Russa believes in most. It's the main reason he's back in the game at age 76, to pursue a fourth World Series ring.
"Even with the managers I've had, winning in spring training was as high as I've ever seen it," right fielder Adam Eaton said. "(La Russa) really wanted to win in spring, which is great. I think that mentality of whenever you throw the guys out there to win is key. You know how things change going into the season, win every game and win now, and you've got to love that.
"When you have a manager, not that all managers don't feel this way, but when you have a manager that wants to win just as much as everybody on the team, it resonates with guys. He's not afraid to vocalize that."