It was a frustrating day for White Sox manager Tony La Russa. His team was getting dominated on the field, none of his bullpen moves were working out, and his star first baseman, Jose Abreu had been drilled by a pitch yet again.



In the eighth inning, Jose Abreu got hit with a pitch by Kendall Graveman. This is something Abreu has dealt with all season. It marked the 23rd time Abreu had been hit with a pitch in 2021. Frustration boiled over for Tony La Russa and he lost his lid. He came charging out of the dugout to air his grievances to home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. The entire time he was glaring into the Astros dugout.

Graveman threw multiple pitches up-and-in to Abreu until a 94 mph fastball finally caught him in the shoulder. Carapazza got the rest of the umpire crew together and they decided to give warning to both benches. This conclusion did not satisfy La Russa.

He came stomping out of the dugout again and gave the umpires an earful. During his conversation with the umpires, you could see him mouth the words “that’s bullshit” multiple times. He argued long enough the crowd began to start chanting his name.

“I only care about sportsmanship so far. And I have a limit,” La Russa explained to reporters after the game. “They beat us. They played better. We’re disappointed. That was intentional. I don’t understand why. I don’t understand how they got away with it.”

“Just leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and in my gut,” the hall of fame manager continued. “There’s a character shortage there that they should answer for. It is stupid, too. I’ll be interested to see if they admit it. If they don’t admit it, then they’re really dishonest.”

La Russa is correct in his assessment that there is a character shortage in Houston. Multiple members of the 2017 World Series roster that cheated their way to a title are still on the team. Whether the pitch was intentional or not is another story.

The Astros certainly had reason to be upset. White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera gave them plenty of bulletin board material after Game 3 with his comments accusing the Astros of cheating. Jose Altuve was also hit by a pitch earlier in the game and White Sox fans erupted into cheers.

A verbal joust between two of baseball’s legendary managers ensued after the game. Tony La Russa was adamant the Houston manager Dusty Baker instructed Graveman to hit Abreu. He cited the fact that Martin Maldonado looked into the dugout then set up inside before the pitch was thrown.

“It will be a good test of character and credibility,” La Russa grumbled. “They did hit him intentionally. I’ll be really curious. They should have the guts to admit that they did it, why they did it.”

La Russa’s longtime adversary Dusty Baker insisted that it was not intentional at all.

“I beg to differ with Tony,” Baker said. “There was no reason to do that–zero.”

Baker pointed to the fact that Abreu gets hit with pitches all the time.

Baker continued: “In modern baseball, guys don’t try to get out of the way of balls. In my day, you know, you hit the dirt or you turn away from the ball. But today, guys are just standing there and taking it.”

Baker then insisted there were no hard feelings between the two teams.

“I don’t think there’s bad blood between these two teams,” Baker said. “There was no reason to hit Abreu. He hasn’t done anything to us, and the score wasn’t indicative of even attempting to.”

In the end, the Astros got the last laugh. They are advancing to the ALCS while Tony La Russa is forced to watch from his couch and stew.

Mitchell studies sports communications at Bradley University and works for Braves Vision, an organization that works alongside ESPN broadcasting games and covering Bradley sports. Creator of Dorm Room Dispute podcast.