By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Having tormented the Chicago Cubs from afar for the past 16 seasons, word now is that St. Louis’ newest retiree, Tony La Russa, may pile into a U-Haul and drive himself – while surely airlifting his ego – the 300 miles northeast to the Windy City.
Where he can settle in and torment Kenny Williams instead.
At least, that’s the dynamic I suspect would be sparked if White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf indeed does amble into his general manager’s office next week to tell Williams (the “smartest guy in the room”) that he’ll now be working with La Russa (“the smartest guy in the world”).
Forget the scoreboard at U.S. Cellular Field, that would really set off the fireworks at 35th & Shields.
On Monday evening, the Sun-Times posted a story online with the headline: “Ken Williams assembles Sox coaching staff that won’t rankle him.” In the article it was explained that, “Baseball insiders and fans alike view the new staff as Williams’ ointment for his irritated skin after eight seasons with Ozzie Guillen,” and how “Williams figures to have a stronger grip with Guillen gone.”
But if Tony La Russa ends up peering over his shoulder, would he really?
Since La Russa unexpectedly announced on Monday morning that he was becoming AARP’s newest poster boy, it’s been speculated that the three-time World Series champ and one-time White Sox skipper could rejoin the Sox in a front-office capacity that could range from club president to senior adviser.
If La Russa were to be named club president, well, that would almost surely rankle the territorial Williams. But no matter what La Russa’s potential role might be with the White Sox, if he does join the ballclub, I don’t think Williams would be particularly thrilled with it.
No matter what he might say publcily.
After all, everyone knows that the 75-year-old Reinsdorf considers the 67-year-old La Russa a surrogate son – despite the mere eight-year age difference. And considering that La Russa also boasts a Hall of Fame resume that includes three world championships, six pennants, 12 division titles and 2,728 regular-season wins, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw, you know he’s going to have the Chairman’s ear on most any baseball matter.
After last season’s high-priced flop on the South Side, Williams already is on thin ice – certainly with White Sox fans, and probably with Reinsdorf, too. Many outsiders believe that Williams should have been the loser in the power struggle that ended up driving Guillen from the South Side to South Beach. And who’s to say that La Russa doesn’t think the same, and lets Reinsdorf know it upon joining the ballclub?
After vanquishing Ozzie and loading up his staff with more docile coaches – some might call Robin Ventura & Co. “Yes Men” – it would be quite ironic if Williams ended up having to deal with an even pricklier and more domineering “manager” in the organization.
So, if La Russa does indeed join the Sox this winter, don’t be surprised if we see a return of the show that already has been running for years on Chicago’s South Side.
It’s called, “Who’s the Boss?”