The Chicago White Sox put a beating on the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, winning the series opener by a score of 16-4.
In the top of the ninth inning, Yermin Mercedes clobbered a pitch off of position player Willians Astudillo that traveled over the fence for a home run. The 47-mph pitch came on a 3-0 count while the Sox were up 15-4.
Before the second game of the series in Minnesota, White Sox manager Tony La Russa spoke about the situation and explained that he disagreed with Mercedes swinging on the pitch, stating that the righty slugger swung through a take sign. La Russa elaborated on his disapproval of the sequence, citing a lack of sportsmanship and respect as additional gripes beyond the ignored sign. He apologized to the Twins and said that it would not happen again. La Russa added that Mercedes would be facing consequences within the White Sox ‘family’.
La Russa’s dialogue clashes with the popular opinion among baseball fans and media. Most are in favor of playing the game out to the fullest and enjoy the oddities that can result from position players pitching in blowout scenarios. In fact, after the game on Monday, White Sox legend Frank Thomas and former World Series manager Ozzie Guillen both stated they enjoyed the home run and didn’t find any issue with what Mercedes did.
In this ever-changing era of baseball, should unwritten rules like taking a 3-0 pitch in a similar situation exist? Most would probably answer no, but La Russa clearly sides on the contrary.