It’s unusual, but not unprecedented, for a coach or manager to be nominated for or win a major award in the same year they get fired. A few recent examples include Dwane Casey with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors (he won the NBA Coach of the Year award a few months after being fired by the Toronto Raptors in 2018), George Karl (fired by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 a month after winning that same award), and Joe Girardi (he won the 2006 NL Manager of the Year award a month after being let go by the then-Florida Marlins). And this went to an interesting new level with recently-fired Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria (subsequently replaced by Tony La Russa); Renteria was announced as a finalist for the American League Manager of the Year award Monday, and his former team congratulated him on Twitter:
Congratulations to Rick Renteria on being named a finalist for A.L. Manager of the Year. https://t.co/dJWrFEg16f
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) November 2, 2020
As many pointed out, that felt a little awkward:
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) November 2, 2020
Tired: Kevin Cash
Wired: Charlie Montoyo
Fired: Rick Renteria https://t.co/1VjT1DHmbm
— wash your hAndys (@_rallycap) November 3, 2020
— Shlomo Sprung (@SprungOnSports) November 2, 2020
You guys are lucky to have him.
— KidC (@thekidcanada) November 3, 2020
— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) November 3, 2020
The White Sox let go of manager Rick Renteria.
Then he was nominated for Manager of the Year.
Awkward. ? ? ?https://t.co/rIYtJLkYRf
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) November 3, 2020
If you're not cheering for a fired Rick Renteria to win this award, you're wrong. https://t.co/qwMihxZ2Oa
— Gord Randall (@GARandall) November 3, 2020
(The Hinch reference there is quite funny considering how the team sent out an e-mail graphic with Hinch’s signature on the announcement of La Russa being named manager, despite Hinch never interviewing for the job.)
Renteria managed the White Sox from 2017 to 2020, and they were particularly impressive this year, going from a 72-89 mark in 2019 to a 35-25 mark in the shortened 2020 season and earning a playoff berth as the AL’s seventh seed. Yes, they lost their Wild Card Game clash with the second-seeded Oakland A’s (Renteria is seen above during that game), but that still seemed to show some solid year-over-year improvement. And while some did argue that the team should move on from Renteria, the decision to replace him with the 76-year-old La Russa (who hasn’t managed a team since 2011) has sparked whole new waves of criticism. So it’s interesting to see this getting dredged up again by a tweet from the White Sox account.
And really, that’s what makes this whole thing particularly notable. Renteria being nominated for an award after getting fired is interesting, but it’s certainly not unprecedented. But the awkward congratulations from the team that fired him present a new way into discussing this. And it feels like a case where saying nothing might have been a better option; there probably weren’t going to be a ton of people demanding “Hey, @whitesox, why haven’t you congratulated Rick Renteria?”, and even if there had been some, there’s an obvious defense of “He doesn’t manage here any more.” So it’s notable to see the White Sox going for this congratulation, and bringing more attention to their firing of Renteria in the process.
[Chicago White Sox on Twitter]