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#pounditSunday, November 29, 2020


Tony La Russa DUI arrest details emerge: ‘Do you see my ring?’

Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa was arrested for driving while under the influence earlier this year, and some new details from the incident have emerged.

La Russa was charged with DUI in Arizona on Oct. 28, which was the day before the Chicago White Sox hired him. The incident took place on Feb. 24 near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. An officer responded to a call after La Russa ran his SUV into a curb and had a tire blow out. According to the arrest report, which was obtained by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, La Russa tried to talk his way out of trouble by informing the officer of who he was.

“Do you see my ring?” La Russa allegedly asked the officer. “I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person. I’m legit. I’m a Hall of Famer, brother. You’re trying to embarrass me.”

La Russa has won three World Series as a manager, so the ring he referred to was likely one of his championship rings.

La Russa told the officer he had one glass of wine at a dinner with some friends. He was taken into custody following a field sobriety test and refused to submit to a breath test or provide a blood or urine sample. An officer obtained a search warrant for a blood test, and La Russa had a blood-alcohol content of above 0.08, which is the legal limit in Arizona.

The DUI arrest was not La Russa’s first. The Hall of Famer was also arrested for DUI back in 2007, and an embarrassing video showed him struggling with the alphabet during that incident.

The White Sox say they were aware of the February DUI and misdemeanor charge before they hired La Russa. One top free agent ripped La Russa on Twitter Tuesday and cited the arrest as a reason he would not want to play for the manager.

Alex Cora surprised he landed another manager job so soon

Alex Cora

Many were surprised that Alex Cora got his old job back immediately after serving a year-long suspension, and the Boston Red Sox manager insists he did not see it coming, either.

Cora met with the media on Tuesday for the first time since the Red Sox hired him back. He apologized for his role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal and said he knew he wanted to return to Major League Baseball but was thinking it would take “two or three years.”

“So soon? I never saw it?” Cora said, via Bill Koch of the Providence Journal. “I knew I wanted to come back to the game, but I didn’t know how fast. There was a lot of talk within the family. You put them first.”

Cora was painted as one of the masterminds behind the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme. He said Tuesday that he did not want to get into specifics of what went on but that he is “sorry.” Cora added that he doesn’t want anyone to view his return as a comeback story.

“This situation is part of who I am for the rest of my career. As a man, I have to deal with it,” he said. “I don’t want people to make this a great comeback story. That’s not what it is. I’m still Alex. I made a mistake.”

Cora won the World Series with Boston in his first year on the job in 2018. He probably benefitted from what Red Sox players said about him after the Astros scandal erupted. It also helped that Major League Baseball cleared him of any suspected wrongdoing in Boston.

Winning almost always trumps all in sports. Boston finished 24-36 in the shortened season this year, and Cora will be expected to turn things around. If he can do that, his role in the Astros scandal will seem like a distant memory to many.

Marcus Stroman seemingly rules out playing for Tony La Russa, White Sox

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman should have plenty of suitors on the MLB free agent market this winter, but it sounds like the Chicago White Sox need not waste their time placing a call to the right-hander.

Stroman sent a handful of tweets on Tuesday criticizing Tony La Russa and the White Sox for hiring the manager even after he was arrested for his second DUI. One follower asked Stroman how much money it would take for him to “play for an old and seemingly racist alcoholic.” Stroman replied that he has no interest in doing that regardless of how much Chicago offered.

The racism remark is in reference to what La Russa said several years ago about former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones calling baseball a “white man’s sport.” Jones made the remark right around the time Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem. La Russa questioned Kaepernick’s motives and said he “absolutely would not allow” any of his players to sit or kneel during the anthem.

“I would tell [a player that wanted to sit out the anthem to] sit inside the clubhouse,” La Russa told The Dan Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio back in 2016. “You’re not going to be out there representing our team and our organization by disrespecting the flag. No, sir, I would not allow it. … If you want to make your statement, you make it in the clubhouse, but not out there. You’re not going to show it that way publicly and disrespectfully.”

Stroman acknowledged La Russa’s 2016 remarks in several of his tweets.

La Russa was charged with DUI in Arizona the day before the White Sox hired him. The incident took place on Feb. 24, and the White Sox say they were aware of it. La Russa was also arrested for DUI in 2007 and embarrassed himself in a video that showed him struggling with the alphabet.

Stroman will be one of the best arms available this winter, but he is not exactly making an effort to expand his market. He also called out the New York Yankees recently, though he did not rule out signing with them.

Report: Padres are in mix for Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer

The San Diego Padres are on the upswing, and now they appear to have their eyes on the top free agent pitcher on the market.

Baseball writer Dan Federico reported Monday that the Padres are emerging as an early suitor for Trevor Bauer. Federico notes Bauer’s close relationship with Padres righty Mike Clevinger, his former Cleveland Indians teammate.

The 29-year-old Bauer just led the National League with an immaculate 1.73 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP for the Cincinnati Reds, albeit in the shortened 2020 season. The Padres, meanwhile, made it to the NLDS this year after many consecutive seasons of losing baseball. They still lack a reliable top of the rotation though, Clevinger aside.

Bauer and Clevinger do have a fairly tight friendship, perhaps aided in no small part by their mutual hatred of the Houston Astros.

Tony La Russa charged with DUI day before being hired by White Sox

Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa is doing no favors to the Chicago White Sox, who took a chance by hiring him recently.

La Russa was hired by the White Sox on Oct. 29 as their next manager. ESPN reported on Monday that La Russa was charged with DUI in Arizona on Oct. 28, the day before his hiring was announced.

According to court records obtained by ESPN, La Russa’s DUI stemmed from a Feb. 24 incident near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. La Russa told an officer of the peace that he had been at dinner with friends from the Los Angeles Angels, for whom he worked at the time.

La Russa was found after an officer responded to a call. The manager ran his SUV into a curb and had a tire blowout. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test but was taken into custody after a field sobriety test on suspicion of DUI. The officer obtained a warrant to draw some of La Russa’s blood.

La Russa’s case took eight months to process before he was eventually charged for misdemeanor DUI. He is lucky that his 2007 spring training DUI was long enough ago that it does not count towards repeat offender status in Arizona. La Russa embarrassed himself in the 2007 DUI and struggled with the alphabet as video shows.

The White Sox are said to have been aware of the DUI charge prior to hiring La Russa.

La Russa last managed St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series title in 2011. The 76-year-old has won three World Series as a manager and is a member of both the A’s and Cardinals Halls of Fame. His first job as a manager came with the White Sox from 1979-1986.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia via cc BY-SA 3.0

Report: Blue Jays have interest in top free agent outfielders

It’s not clear what Major League Baseball’s free agent market will look like this offseason. There appears to be at least one team, however, gearing up to spend.

Via Tim Kelly of, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman told’s “Big Time Baseball” that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in both George Springer and Jackie Bradley Jr. as free agents.

Neither player would come cheap. That’s particularly true of Springer, who is only 31 and is a career .270 hitter with power. He’s likely to command a long-term deal worth significant cash, especially since there’s talk about him being ready to move on from Houston.

The Blue Jays are coming off a season that saw their young team reach the AL Wild Card series. They’ll expect to be even better next year, and it sounds like they’re willing to add veterans to accelerate that process.

Report: Jeff Luhnow files $22 million lawsuit against Astros

The Houston Astros can’t quite put their sign-stealing scandal behind them, and are now mired in more legal issues stemming from the fallout.

According to TMZ Sports, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is suing the organization for more than $22 million he says he was owed by the organization at the time of his firing. Luhnow claims the contract he signed in 2018 entitled him to $31 million in guaranteed compensation — money he did not receive when he was fired for cause in 2020.

Luhnow’s suit argues that the Astros had “no basis” to fire the GM, and the team made him the scapegoat despite him claiming ignorance. He claims he was the victim of a “deeply flawed” investigation that saw him fired “even though [he] had no knowledge of — or involvement in — the sign-stealing schemes.” The suit adds that Luhnow was fired while everyone else in the organization, including “video room employees who conceived and orchestrated the sign stealing system,” faced no consequences.

How much Luhnow did or did not know about the sign-stealing operation has consistently been a point of contention. Luhnow has claimed he was not aware it was going on, but there is some evidence that might not be true. MLB also saw fit to suspend him for an entire season based on the results of its investigation.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Report: Red Sox had significant doubts about bringing back Alex Cora

Alex Cora

Alex Cora had long been viewed as the favorite to land the Boston Red Sox manager job before it was made official on Friday. However, inside the organization, that was apparently never a certainty.

Cora still commands the respect of many inside the organization, including players and ownership, who won the 2018 World Series with him as manager. However, the ultimate decision was left to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who has no previous ties to Cora.

According to Chad Jennings of The Athletic, many in the organization initially felt that Cora would not get the job when the search started. One Red Sox source told Jennings that the search “wasn’t a dog-and-pony show.”

Things shifted when Bloom and Cora began to have face-to-face meetings and Bloom began to seriously consider Cora’s strengths and witnesses. At one point, Cora asked Bloom if the chief baseball officer trusted him, and said the organization should move on if he didn’t. Bloom replied that he did.

In the end, Cora was reportedly one of two finalists for the job, and ultimately got it. He clearly won over Bloom, and it’s a move that will make the players happy as well.

Angels decide on Shohei Ohtani’s 2021 role

Shohei Ohtani

The Los Angeles Angels have not kept Shohei Ohtani healthy for much of his MLB career, but the hope is 2021 will be different.

The Angels shared an update Friday on Ohtani, who was shut down early in 2020 due to elbow issues. The two-way star is expected to be healthy for spring training and has begun to throw from 120 feet, via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. More importantly, the Angels still intend to use him as a two-way player in 2021.

Given the arm problems Ohtani has had, there was speculation that the Angels might give up on him as a pitcher. There even looked to be some evidence that the Angels were moving toward that conclusion late in 2020, but it turns out they are not there yet.

Ohtani, for what it’s worth, has been adamant about how he sees his role. He’s only made 12 MLB appearances as a pitcher, though he looked great doing it in 2018 when healthy. 2021 may be his last shot to prove he can be a two-way player while staying healthy. Another injury and both he and the Angels just might have to accept that his future lies as a position player.

New Mets owner cleaning house in front office

Brodie Van Wagenen

Steve Cohen officially became the new owner of the New York Mets on Friday after his deal to purchase the team closed, and the billionaire hedge fund manager has wasted no time making serious changes.

The Mets announced on Friday that they are firing Brodie Van Wagenen and several other members of the team’s front office. The other executives who are leaving include Omar Minaya, Allard Baird, Adam Guttridge and Jared Banner.

One of Cohen’s first orders of business with the Mets was to bring back Sandy Alderson as president of baseball operations. Alderson was the GM of the Mets until 2018, when he left the role due to a recurrence of cancer. The 72-year-old is credited with helping to build the Mets’ 2015 NL championship team.

Van Wagenen served as GM of the Mets for two years. He was caught up in an embarrassing controversy over the summer, though it seems likely he would have been fired anyway.

The Mets finished 26-34 and in last place in the NL East during the shortened 2020 season. It is no surprise Cohen wants a blank slate after spending $2.4 billion to purchase the franchise.