Pretty unbelievable, especially given Tony La Russa’s 2007 DUI. I just shake my head.
I suppose I said most of it right up there in the headline, but to reiterate the news: New White Sox Manager Tony La Russa was arrested in February on suspicion of driving under the influence and was ultimately charged with a DUI one day before he was hired by the Chicago White Sox. Jeff Passan has the story:
This is Tony La Russa’s second DUI charge. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI in 2007 after he fell asleep at traffic light in Florida. This arrest occured in Arizona.
A White Sox spokesman said the organization was aware of the incident: https://t.co/C1lHlik4Zl
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 10, 2020
According to the court reports obtained by ESPN, La Russa ran his car into a curb back in February, “leaving it smoking on the side of a Phoenix-area road.” The official charge came just one day before the White Sox hired him as their manager, but they would’ve known about the arrest long before that – and proceeded anyway.
Worse, this was La Russa’s second drunken driving charge. When reached for comment, La Russa told EPSN, “I have nothing to say,” and hung up the phone.
Here’s some more from the initial report:
On Feb. 24 at 11:40 p.m., a peace officer responded to a call and found La Russa standing alongside his SUV, according to an affidavit filed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. La Russa told the officer, who had detected a “light odor of alcoholic beverage,” that he had been at a dinner with friends from the Los Angeles Angels, for whom he was working as a special advisor. He was stopped near the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and he told the officer he had hit something and had a tire blow out, according to the affidavit. After a field sobriety test, La Russa was taken into custody. In the affidavit, the peace officer described him as “argumentative.”
La Russa refused to submit to a breath test or provide a sample of his blood or urine to test his blood-alcohol level, according to the affidavit, and the officer obtained a search warrant to take two tubes of La Russa’s blood. That is a common procedure for DUI cases in Arizona, said Michael Munoz, a Phoenix-area DUI criminal defense attorney who is not affiliated with the case. He also said it was not uncommon for charges not to be filed in cases for several months due to slowdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, other law enforcement sources in Arizona told ESPN the delay seemed excessive.
Although La Russa was arrested back in February, he wasn’t charged with his second DUI until October 28th, one day before the White Sox made him their newest manager. The White Sox were fully aware of the charge – La Russa is a close personal friend with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who reportedly pushed through his hiring against the advice of his top baseball advisors, who hoped to deploy a more thorough search.
The White Sox are going to get a lot of grief for the decision to proceed with La Russa despite the DUI charge. Heck, they were getting a lot of grief anyway, and they were hoping this wouldn’t see light.
UPDATE: The official White Sox response is also a no-comment:
White Sox knew of La Russa Feb. arrest on suspicion of driving under influence before hiring him as manager, spokesman Scott Reifert said. “Because this is an open case, we cannot comment further at this time,” Reifert said.
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) November 10, 2020