The Chicago White Sox throttled the Minnesota Twins on Monday evening, prevailing by a final score of 16-4. Other than the lopsided nature of the contest, there was nothing terribly out of the ordinary in the game until the top of the ninth inning, and the events of that half-inning carried over into Tuesday. First, White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes came to the plate against Twins position player Willians Astudillo and drove a 3-0 pitch for a home run to extend the margin from 15-4 to 16-4.
Yermin Mercedes homers on a 3-0 pitch vs position player, Willians Astudillo in a blowout, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/varYyjPdwa
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) May 18, 2021
Following the game, White Sox manager Tony La Russa expressed displeasure with Mercedes’ decision to swing in that particular situation.
Tony La Russa was 'upset' that Yermin Mercedes hit a home run on a 3-0 count last night in a blowout win.
"He made a mistake. There will be a consequence he has to endure here within our family."
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 18, 2021
“Big mistake,” La Russa told reporters. “The fact that he’s a rookie, and excited, helps explain why he just was clueless. But now he’s got a clue.”
“I took several steps from the dugout onto the field, yelling, ‘Take, take, take,'” La Russa added. “The way he was set up, it looked to me like he was going to swing.”
In many ways, this is on-brand for La Russa, who is perhaps the most “old-school” manager in baseball at this point. Still, these comments from the manager only exacerbated the issue and generated a time-honored tradition of unwritten rule litigation across the baseball world. That also included members of Chicago’s roster and Mercedes himself weighing in on what transpired.
Yermin Mercedes isn't here for the unwritten rules of baseball.
"I'm going to play like that. I'm Yermin. I can't be another person because if I change it, everything is going to change. … We're just having fun. It's baseball." pic.twitter.com/WGf8ZyL2TN
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) May 18, 2021
La Russa's got a great feel for his team 🤣 pic.twitter.com/rQuaQNUJYq
— Josh Goldberg (@JGoldberg12) May 18, 2021
Fast-forward to Tuesday and the White Sox and Twins took the field once again. This time, Minnesota prevailed by a 5-4 margin, but there were more fireworks, including Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey being ejected for throwing behind Mercedes.
Twins Pitcher Tyler Duffey has been tossed from the game after he threw a pitch behind Yermin Mercedes.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 19, 2021
And, finally, the kicker is that La Russa didn’t have an issue with this.
TLR says "I don't have a problem with how the Twins handled it," in regards to Duffey throwing at Yermin Mercedes.#WhiteSox
— Ryan McGuffey (@RyanMcGuffey) May 19, 2021
Tony La Russa on the Twins throwing behind Mercedes: "I wasn't that suspicious. I'm suspicious when someone throws at someone's head. I didn't have a problem with how the Twins handled that."
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 19, 2021
Chicago has been very good this season, boasting a 25-16 record, so it isn’t as if things are crumbling for the White Sox. At the same time, this stance from the manager almost can’t be exceedingly popular in the clubhouse, which is something that could manifest in various negative ways. La Russa not having the back of his player, as well as going beyond that by publicly decrying his actions, is something to keep an eye on, and the great unwritten rule debate continues.