Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa has had a rough go of it with the White Sox this year, as the Southsiders are currently 60-56, good for second place in the AL Central. Critics argue that the game has passed La Russa by, and that the 77-year-old is simply out of touch with modern baseball. More fuel was added to that fire on Monday night, when a fan seemed to be one step ahead of the veteran skipper.
The White Sox trailed the Astros 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth when left fielder Eloy Jiménez smacked a two-run double into left field. With the game now tied and runners on second and third, Guaranteed Rate Field erupted in cheers. Former AL MVP José Abreu strode to the plate, looking to give the White Sox the lead.
While most fans were busy celebrating, one man was shouting some sage advice to the White Sox’s manager, getting La Russa’s attention and telling him, “Hey Tony! Run Engel! Get Engel in there!” The Engel he was referring to is outfielder Adam Engel, whose blazing speed has allowed him to steal 11 bags this season with only two failed attempts. La Russa seemed to like the idea, motioning to the umpire seconds later that he wanted to make a change. Out trotted Adam Engel to second base to run for Jiménez. A Yoán Moncada single then gave the White Sox a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The win was nice for the White Sox, as it kept them moving towards first place in the division. However, even more than the victory, the story of the game became the fan whose clairvoyance outshone La Russa. In fact, La Russa was asked about it the next day, and told reporters he didn’t even hear the fan, but joked that the narrative should keep going, saying, “Make his day, tell him I heard him.” He went on to add that the White Sox’s coaching staff had been debating whether or not to remove one of their most fearsome hitters, in case the game remained tied. La Russa stated, “Ask him if he thought about the tenth [inning].”
Whether or not this fan actually played a role in Tony La Russa’s thought process, it’s a fun story for the baseball world. The manager of a struggling team who has made some gaffs in the past is a pretty easy target, and one fan hit it right on the bullseye.