Joe Maddon: Tony La Russa's age is irrelevant in White Sox's managerial search

"The fire is alive and burning," Maddon says of La Russa.

October 17, 2020

(670 The Score) The second-oldest manager in MLB doesn’t believe 76-year-old Tony La Russa’s age should be a concern as the White Sox have expressed interest in him in their managerial search.

Angels manager Joe Maddon, 66, called La Russa “totally engaged and into it" and believes he could lead a team effectively.

“His method of thinking is contemporary, but it is laced with old-school tenants,” Maddon said on Inside the Clubhouse on Saturday morning. “I think that’s the right way to do it. I do. He obviously has some experience, and he knows how to win. Trust me, the fire is alive and burning hotly.

“Don’t let the number (76) fool ya, boys and girls, this guy is totally engaged and into it.”

La Russa is currently an advisor for the Angels, who have granted permission to the White Sox to interview him. La Russa hasn't managed since leading the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2011. Maddon hasn’t spoken to La Russa since his connection to the White Sox’s vacancy emerged, but he spoke to him often in spring training and through the truncated 60-game regular season.

“He and I have a great relationship,” Maddon said. “It was well beyond that. We were like together every day in camp. I’m constantly throwing thoughts back and forth – hitting, bunting, opposite field, pitching, first-pitch strikes, location, defense, everything, you name it – including analytics.

Maddon “learned a lot” from his conversations with La Russa, he said. La Russa is in the Hall of Fame and third all time among managers with 2,728 wins.

“He’s one of those dudes that’s dripping with common sense, and I love that,” Maddon said. “That’s what I’ve often said about Gene Mauch. One of the things I got from Gene was he could reduce it so quickly and get to the essence so easily. And that’s what Tony does.”

Maddon acknowledged that the older a manager gets, the more cognizant he has to be of the grind and stress that comes with a season that features around 200 games when spring training action is included. Dusty Baker, 71, of the Astros is the oldest manager in MLB.

“Staying contemporary, creating balance and a real healthy routine,” Maddon said, sharing advice for elder managers. “I think that is the three things for me. Diet and exercise as well are important aspects for me. Let's go the other way. Springsteen just released a new album at 71. The Rolling Stones are still getting it done. That creates motivation for me. The last part is the most important thing. You got to still want to do this. You can never do this for the money, because that will absolutely get away from you. You have to really, really wake up each day and want to do this. If the answers are yes and you retain good health, yes you can do it well.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.