That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: The Ultimate Baseball Face-off – Dusty Baker vs Tony LaRussa

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker (left) and Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa meet at Minute Maid Field in Houston on Thu Oct 7, 2021 for game 1 of the ALDS (file photo NBC Sports)

The Ultimate Baseball Face-off – Dusty Baker vs Tony LaRussa

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

The American League Divisional Series is an attractive one. Two of the best hitting teams in all of baseball with very good pitching also. Manager Dusty Baker of the AL Western Division Champion Houston Astros, who will host Tony La Russa Manager of the Chicago White Sox Champion of the AL Central Division. Two excellent managers, who both return to the show after a few years of “unemployment”.

The two managers cut their teeth here in the Bay Area, Tony (The Hall of Famer) with the Athletics and Dusty (The Players Manager) with the Giants, they are two “old school” managers, not necessarily going by today’s super hyper stats of high-velocity pitches and hits, infield shifts, launch angle and all the other stuff which some media and fans overdose these days. Both not afraid of using the bunt, sacrifice, or as well as the hit and run or ‘run and hit’ and very much manage with their guts in-game situation.

Tony LaRussa is the active manager with the most wins ever 2,821, which places him second all-time behind the legendary owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, Connie Mack who won a total of 3,731 baseball games.

Dusty Baker occupies No.12 in the all-time managers in wins with 1,987. Having covered both managers and traveled with them, there is a rivalry between both, the two oldest managers in baseball this season, Tony 77, Dusty 72.

They both speak conversational Spanish. In the 1980’s I recorded “El Show de Tony LaRussa” which was a three minute inside pregame show for radio. Tony would talk about the previous game with his take as a manager. With Dusty, many times I interviewed him including in the late 1990s when he was managing the Giants including 2002 when he won the National League Pennant and lost the World Series to the LA Angels.

This American League Divisional Series begins this Thursday, October 7 at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, who finished the season with 95-67 winning the West, while the Chicago White Sox ended with 93-69. This is the best-of-5 and Houston owns home-field advantage. Prediction: It will be a 5 game series. Houston is a much experienced postseason-proven team than Chicago. They didn’t clinch until the last week of the regular season.

Chicago White Sox won the Central Division (the weakest in baseball, second-place Cleveland Indians finished 13 games from Chicago). The Sox had their share of injuries, but they were never really challenged, they are a dynamic and mostly young ball club, which many critics believe (before the season) that LaRussa would be “too old” to win with this young group of players, but he proved those guys wrong and here is another Tony LaRussa team in the postseason.

Some great hitters for Houston in the series: José Altuve, Carlos Correa, Jordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yuliesky Gurriel, who just won the league batting title with a .319 average, which today is the equivalent of hitting .340 decades ago, a breakthrough year for Kyle Tucker who was a First Round pick in the 2015 Draft, for the Astros and ended this season with his best numbers at 24 years of age, hit .294 with 30 home runs and 92 RBI. Their rotation is solid and a good bullpen to complete the game.

The Chicago White Sox can swing it with anybody. Tim Anderson, José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert, César Hernández, Eloy Jiménez, Yasmani Grandal, some of the names that can hit and hit for power. A very good pitching staff with Carlos Rodón, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, and a very strong bullpen with Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendricks to close the game.

I give the edge to Houston in 5 games, but if Chicago wins, they have the potential to run the table and go all the way and win the World Series.

About the Wild Card game: (Note) I never liked the Wild Card game, just one game to decide a season. The LA Dodgers won 106 games this year and finished second. The first team ever to finish with 106 wins and not win their division. The Dodgers play the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct 6.

The winner advances, the other team goes home. Just image winning 106 games and getting eliminated in the first round of the postseason? Something is not right here. This is not the NFL. Solution? Wild Card should be the best of 3 games. Just reduce the season to 152 games instead of 162 to even the whole year schedule, so the World Series doesn’t end by Thanksgiving Day. Who really likes the ‘due or die games’? Fans and especially, television, who usually score very good ratings.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez call post season baseball on CBS Spanish radio and reported for Telemundo TV and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Tony LaRussa returns as Manager after Nine year Hiatus

Tony LaRussa in 1979 in his first managing job with the Chicago White Sox (1979-1986) has come full circle after managing the Oakland A’s (1986-1995) and St Louis Cardinals(1996-2011) and after nine years (2020) LaRussa is back managing the White Sox once again (file photo from pinterest.com)

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Tony LaRussa last managed in 2011 guiding the St Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. The Hall of Fame manager, now 76 is coming back as manager of the Chicago White Sox. During the wild card Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox this past September, Tony was seated to my left a few booths away, by himself, taking notes.

I went over to say Hi. He has served in front office jobs for multiple teams since 2014. After the news of his hiring by the White Sox, he told ESPN “My heart was always in the dugout” He has always been a perfectionist who hates to lose a game, some might call him a “control freak”. During the recent national anthem protest he told ESPN Dan LeBatard Show, “I would not allow it on my team”, while he was the Chief Baseball Officer for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tony LaRussa was one of the first managers to use everybody in his bullpen to win many games, with the likes of Gene Nelson, Rick Honeycutt and Hall of Fame close Dennis Eckersley. El Show de Tony LaRussa (about 5 minutes) was in Spanish preceding every A’s game during his years with the Athletics, he loved to talk about pitching and his great pitching coach Dave Duncan.

He was always talking baseball strategy and he loved each minute of it. The ultimate baseball professional. Many games he would ask a starter like Mike Moore to give him 5 1/3 innings and then he would turn it to the bullpen. Now that “style” is in vogue, but on steroids as in the recent World Series where there was more action in the bullpens than on the field.

When the White Sox parted ways with Rick Rentería after his White Sox were eliminated by the Athletics, they were looking for an experienced manager, with wisdom and success and the gravitas of Tony LaRussa. Tony is one of two managers in history to have won World Series with teams in both leagues, with the Oakland A’s in 1989 and with the St Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. George (Sparky) Anderson with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976 and then with the Detroit Tigers in 1984

Born in Tampa, Florida, Tony LaRussa will take over a young and very talented ball-club in the Chicago White Sox, who is loaded with young and established Latino stars and a team that could be very close to winning a World Series.

The White Sox hope Tony is “el hombre” to take them to the Promised Land, as he returns to the Windy City where he managed for the first time in the major leagues in 1979. Tony resides here in the Bay Area and is the founder of the Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, a non-for-profit organization with offices in Walnut Creek.

Questions like: At 76, would he be able to relate to his young ballplayers? He has not managed for nine (9) years, how would he be received in their locker room and with the media in Chicago? And many others. It will be interesting to see how his first season develops.

In Major League history, these are the top three managers in wins. 1-Connie Mack 3,731 2-John McGraw 2,763 3-Tony LaRussa 2,728

As of today the two oldest managers in MLB: Tony LaRussa, 76 and Dusty Baker, 71.

Buena suerte Tony.

Stay well and stay tuned.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president of the Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Museum and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com