Tony La Russa Doubles Down on All-Time Bad Intentional Walk Decision
On Thursday, Tony La Russa made the inexcusable call to issue an intentional walk in a situation that absolutely did not call for it. His Chicago White Sox paid the price for that horrendous decision-making. But fear not, Tony is here to make things worse by claiming he would absolutely do it again.
La Russa opted to walk Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner with a 1-2 count, two outs and a runner on second with the White Sox trailing 7-5 in the top of the sixth inning. Everyone on the planet was puzzled by that decision and, sure enough, it didn't work out. Max Muncy stepped to the plate and promptly launched a three-run home run to give the Dodgers a 10-5 lead.
How do you issue an intentional walk when your pitcher has two strikes on an opposing hitter? This wasn't a 3-2 count, it was 1-2. The chances your guy makes a pitch and gets out of the inning are exceptionally high. If it was 3-0 or 3-1? Sure, OK, we can talk -- even though analytics show intentional walks are virtually always a bad idea. But 1-2? Why would you even think of making that decision? It's mind-blowing and I'm not sure there's another MLB manager who would do the same -- there might have been a few days ago, but Joe Maddon was fired this week.
After his decision backfired, La Russa showed he learned absolutely nothing from the situation and didn't understand the backlash he was getting. The 77-year-old said, "Trust your gut. Don't cover your butt."
Really? That's it?
He then expressed shock at the stunned reaction to the decision:
"Pssssh, 24 hours later, I'm even more surprised. That's not even a close call. I mean do you know what Muncy was hitting from the left-hand side this season? .125 ... Turner is a tough hitter with no strikes, one strike, two strikes. He shortens up and he's got all kinds of ways to put the ball in play and hurt you.
"Now, if it had been a right-handed pitcher, yeah, I probably would have tried to make a pitch."
Good Lord, the man is so out of touch. In no universe was that an excusable call, I don't care if Babe Ruth was in the batter's box.
The pitcher was ahead of the hitter. This season, Turner is hitting .333 against lefty pitchers with a 1-2 count. That means two-thirds of the time he makes an out in that situation. Trust your pitcher to make one pitch and get the out.