Tony La Russa or Miguel Cairo? White Sox fans seem to have made their pick

Look, I know what some of you are thinking. If Tony La Russa is going to be at the ballpark in Oakland on Sunday for a ceremony retiring former A’s pitcher Dave Stewart’s number, can’t the White Sox join in the moment by unceremoniously re-retiring La Russa?

It’s easy to kick a guy when he’s down. And that’s what Sox fans have been doing — with gusto — since bench coach Miguel Cairo took over as acting manager with La Russa, 77, experiencing unspecified medical issues.

“Here’s to a full recovery,” they say, “somewhere else.”

When he came out of retirement to manage the Sox for a second time — his first managerial gig in a decade — La Russa was fearful of letting chairman Jerry Reinsdorf down. But it wasn’t what he calls “bad fear,” which could have led him to avoid a daunting task at which he might fail. It was “good fear,” the sort that compelled him to take the leap. That’s how La Russa explained it once he’d gotten his legs under him.

“I would rather have learned [the hard way] by trying than by wondering and regretting it later,” he said.

Presumably, La Russa will be back in the dugout at some point not long after returning to Chicago with the Sox — 9-3 without him — at weekend’s end. That might stir a different, deeper kind of fear in the old skipper, because anything that goes wrong after that — a loss, a base-running blunder, a broken bat, a blown bulb in the outfield lights — will be blamed on him.

Will it be fair? No. Is that going to stop Sox fans from dumping on a Hall-of-Famer because he’s — wait for it — no Miguel Cairo? Not a chance.

After the Sox scored five runs in the ninth inning Friday in what everyone agreed was their win of the year, Cairo credited La Russa for the team’s “never give up” mentality. Is anyone buying that? I’m not sure I do, either. For five months, these same Sox displayed a “never wake up” mentality. But if we’re going to rip La Russa for that, we have to rip the players — sparing only a handful of them — as well. The front office, too.

Or just La Russa. It’s certainly easier.

THREE-DOT DASH

The Marcus Freeman era sure is off to a rocky start.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Someday, you’ll remember where you were when No. 8 Notre Dame lost 26-21 at home to — excuse me while I double-check the name — ah, yes, Marshall.

Unless you didn’t watch it, in which case you missed a real doozy of a disaster. The Irish didn’t just lose. They were outgained. Their defensive front, supposedly the strength of the team, was run at head-on and faltered. Their offense broke down and might not recover. Their coach, Marcus Freeman, already is under enormous pressure. Are we looking at five losses? Six? More?

Other than that, everything’s peachy. …

Forget the nine-overtime game at Penn State last season — Illinois got its biggest win of the Bret Bielema era Saturday in Champaign, a 24-3 manhandling of Virginia. Last season in Charlottesville, the Illini lost by four touchdowns to the Cavaliers. The sting of that one fades forever as a legit Big Ten defense rises downstate. …

Northwestern fell to Duke for the fourth straight time, all in the last six seasons. That Mike Krzyzewski fella sure did build a hell of a program. …

A note to those who struggle to watch games without whining about the officiating, a group that includes, by my estimation, approximately 100% of the human population: There has yet to be a fan base anywhere, in any sport, that claims the refs/umps are biased in favor of their team. …

The weekly “This You Gotta See” column is going on a little vacation. Maybe it’s more of a break. Is it ever coming back? I’m not sure. But …

THIS YOU GOTTA SEE

Buccaneers at Cowboys (Sunday, 7:20 p.m., Ch. 5, Peacock): Dallas is 0-for-6 all-time against Tom Brady. Then again, he’s only 45, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around.

Broncos at Seahawks (Monday, 7:15 p.m., Ch. 7, ESPN): Russell Wilson returns to Seattle, where he won a Super Bowl, was a nine-time Pro Bowler and eventually, it seems, wore out his welcome. Nobody’s perfect.

White Sox at Guardians (Thursday, 12:10 p.m., NBCSCH): The Sox sneak through Cleveland to make up the game postponed on Aug. 21. That was so long ago, South Siders didn’t even want to elect Cairo mayor yet.

ONLY BECAUSE YOU ASKED

From emailer Wally:

“I have to advise you that maybe you should not report on any Cubs or Illini matters since those teams you so fervently hate. So why don’t you just pass on reporting on those two and pick up your beloved White Sox to report on?”

First, I resent the implication that I hate anyone other than the impossibly fit twentysomethings at the gym I just joined. Second, do they even sell black cheerleading skirts in size-XXXL?

Are the Bears about to be 1-0?

Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

THE BOTTOM FIVE

Big Ten West: Northwestern is one thing, but Wisconsin and Iowa looked beyond awful in defeat. Let’s just go ahead and skip that December game in Indy.

The 49ers: Six out of six Sun-Times scribes picked them to win Sunday. I’m pretty sure that means the Bears are about to be 1-0.

“Success”: That’s really a word owner Tom Ricketts chose to describe these 58-win Cubs? Maybe he thinks they play in the NBA.

College coaches’ contracts: Does Texas A&M really need to pay Jimbo Fisher over $9 million a year to lose to Appalachian State?

Notre Dame: On the other hand, Charlie Weis is available.

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