Column: The Chicago White Sox were defeated 21-5.  So, is it time for another leadership meeting?

The link in Wednesday’s NBC Sports Chicago tweet asked to be opened.

“Tony La Russa Calls White Sox Leadership Meeting, Fuels Winning Streak.”

Could it really be that the White Sox manager was responsible for the five-game winning streak against the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros? after convening a meeting of his key players? The same Tony La Russa who spent the last four months dealing with almost daily criticism of his team’s lackluster play?

Before I could open the link to find the answer, the winning streak ended on Wednesday night.

The Sox followed up Thursday with an embarrassing 21-5 loss to the Astrosending with a split four-game matchup against the best team in the American League.

“Brutal afternoon,” La Russa said.


“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that has scored that many runs,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Baker has managed or played in 5,881 Major League games. But you never know when he’ll see something new in baseball, and on Thursday he gave up 21 runs on 25 hits against La Russa, his oldest and fiercest rival.

Things got so bad at Guaranteed Rate Field that a chant of “Come on, Astros” broke out in the left field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning as Sox second baseman Josh Harrison served out the final runs. of the beating

Is it time for another leadership council meeting?

Obviously, the Red Sox’s flagship season tweet got ahead of itself by suggesting that La Russa’s decision to call up the leaders led to a sea change in this maddening season. Sometimes a short winning streak is just a short winning streak, not a reaction to anything that was said or any ideas that popped out of the manager’s head.

But if some want to credit La Russa or the leadership council meeting for the lowly Tigers’ sweep and two comebacks over the Astros, go ahead.

Liam Hendriks, the unofficial spokesman for the leadership council, told reporters Wednesday that leader Jose Abreu said the team “confidence turned to arrogance” and that several players mentioned the “level of complacency is that we just expected to go in and turn around like we did last year.”

That’s a damning statement if true, since the Red Sox didn’t “knock down” teams all of last season. They went 35-32 in their last 67 games before losing to the Astros in the division series. They are 96-90 as of July 21, 2021, a .516 winning percentage.

And calling players together for a meeting isn’t exactly a novel concept. Former Bulls coach Jim Boylen formed a “leadership group” in its first season in 2018 to give you information about “what we do and how we operate”.

“I’m full of juice, man,” Boylen said. “I’m excited about it.”

Boylen’s decision came in response to a franchise-record 56-point loss to the Boston Celtics and a report of a group text exchange between players that suggested they boycott a practice.

Whether Boylen accepted any input is difficult to determine. It didn’t last long enough to see his leadership group rise to much. The 2018-19 Bulls went 22-60, and Boylen was fired after the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

Sox players might be right in thinking that La Russa gets too much blame when things go wrong. Sports broadcasting could not invent a character that could generate so much discussion, from the Intentional walk to Trea Turner on a 1-2 count towards “eyes wide shut” moment in the dugout to the viral video of a fan telling La Russa to pinch-run Adam Engel before he makes the move.

But that is the life of a manager or head coach in any sport.

The maxim is “You can’t fire the players, but you can get rid of the coach”. The Sox have changed the script. They can’t fire La Russa, but they can shake up the roster if his team doesn’t make the postseason.

The Red Sox are super defensive against the heat La Russa gets, which is what you’d expect when he’s president Jerry Reinsdorf’s handpicked pick. But Baker got just as hot, if not more, between 2004 and 2006, when he ended his honeymoon as manager of the Cubs.

Baker shrugged. La Russa probably too, knowing he’s an occupational hazard. You can’t get by in this game with thin skin.

Despite the outcome of Thursday’s game, Baker was impressed with the Red Sox this week and said the Astros could see them again in October.

“They have a good team,” he said. “If they come back … they have an outstanding pitching staff and a very explosive offense. You just don’t know when they’re going to explode. They are right in the thick of things. Here we are in the middle of August, and there’s a lot of baseball left and there’s a lot of high-pressure baseball left.

“Now they’re going to Cleveland and they’ve got Minnesota back, so this is the best and most exciting career in baseball.”

So this is another fork in the road for the White Sox, who have taken the wrong road before, only to find themselves at another fork. It may be the most exciting race in baseball, but it’s also the most forgiving. The Red Sox would be 15½ games behind the Astros in the AL West.

If the Red Sox can sweep the Cleveland Guardians this weekend at Progressive Field, they can move into the No. 1 spot in the Central. Even if they get swept, they can still compete for a wild card spot.

The White Sox are a team made for both the uncompromising and the cautious.

A season like this cannot have an ordinary ending.

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