The talk of the baseball world for the past few days has been about Yermin Mercedes hitting an absolute moonshot off of Twins first baseman-turned-relief pitcher in blowouts Willians Astudillo on a 3-0 count. If you haven’t seen it, please enjoy, because it is hysterical.
🚨 THE YERMINATOR JUST HOMERED OFF OF LA TORTUGA! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/pHacUxXtdF
— MLB (@MLB) May 18, 2021
I don’t think people who have been complaining about this fully recognize how hard it is to hit a baseball going that slow that far. Yermin had to create almost all of the ball speed here and absolutely destroyed one. This looks like a slowpitch softball home run. It absolutely ruled, full stop.
However, the Twins were upset about this — at least manager Rocco Baldelli was — and so was White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who says Mercedes looked off a take sign to launch this baseball 400-plus feet. In the next game, Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw behind Mercedes and got tossed, which La Russa also said he thought was fine, which seemed like an insane thing for a manager to say about someone throwing at his player. Duffey and Baldelli have been suspended for that — Duffey for three games, Baldelli for one — and while all of Mercedes’ teammates have come to his defense, his manager has not.
That aspect of this story is what is making most people frustrated with La Russa, and on Thursday, CC Sabathia teed off on the Hall of Fame manager for being out of touch with the game on his R2C2 podcast with Ryan Ruocco.
“𝙃𝙚 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙗𝙚 𝙛%*#% 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙖𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙢.” @CC_Sabathia didn’t mince words with @RyanRuocco on Tony La Russa and the unwritten rules of baseball. TUNE IN!!! New episode available now: https://t.co/kOpnCWxzKM 🎙 pic.twitter.com/tKnJhnEUCr
— R2C2 (@R2C2) May 20, 2021
Sabathia is right. One thing just about every baseball player who has chimed in on this has said is that any unwritten rules go out the window when you put a position player on the mound, as that is, in and of itself, an effort form the manager to steal some rest for his bullpen and gain an advantage on the other team for the rest of the series. As such, you can’t really be mad when that gets punished in the form of a team teeing off on position player pitching when it’s an active choice not to use up your arms in the bullpen.
As Sabathia says, anyone complaining about this is “out of touch with the game,” and it highlights the problem many had with La Russa being hired in the first place. He’s not going to be able to connect with this young generation of players, has very different views on the miserable “unwritten rules,” and to hang your guy out to dry who, as CC notes, has been carrying your team much of the start of the season, is just an awful look. For this to be the prevailing storyline about the team with the best record in baseball is truly wild and unfortunate, and highlights the apparent disconnect between a manager and his team of young, fun stars.