Bob Nightengale of USA Today shocked White Sox fans on Wednesday with his report that the Sox plan to extend a contract offer to manager Robin Ventura for at least next season. This move would put the ball in Ventura’s court as to whether he wants to return or not.
This, predictably, caused an immediate uproar from White Sox fans on social media, many of whom would have been happy to see Ventura dismissed well before now. Confusion and anger were the overriding emotions and there were even reports of people tweeting to the White Sox official twitter account threatening to get rid of their season tickets.
This reaction led Nightengale to write a follow-up piece, ripping into White Sox fans. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights shall we?
“The Chicago White Sox have decided they want embattled manager Robin Ventura back for 2017, and their fan base reacted as if ace Chris Sale was just traded to the New York Mets for Tim Tebow.”
Strong lede Bob. Don’t bother to beat around the bush, just come right out and say how you feel by using an absolutely ridiculous analogy. Hey, at least Sox fans would know that the full rebuild was happening if this trade occurred.
“The White Sox front office and ownership show loyalty by expressing their intent to keep him, choosing to blame themselves for the team’s struggles the last five years instead of Ventura, and Sox fans act as if they’re the ones now being betrayed.
It makes no sense.”
Well actually it does make a lot of sense. The front office and ownership has shown their loyalty to Ventura plenty over the last five years. He was given an extension after a 99 loss season, the most in 37 years for the franchise. He was then given a chance to finish out his entire contract without being fired, despite the fact that no White Sox manager in history has been retained after three straight losing seasons. Let’s continue.
“Still, with all the rampant speculation that Ventura would be dismissed at the season’s conclusion and the decision that it will be Ventura’s call whether or not he returns, folks responded on social media as if the White Sox just tore down the statues of Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko.”
Back into the ridiculous analogy well we go, another cheap shot at Sox fans for “overeating.” Also this is basically just a repeat of the opening paragraph, but anyway, on we go…
“Sure, the White Sox (76-81) are on the brink of finishing in fourth place in the American League Central for the third season in a row. The White Sox would have to win their remaining games to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season, which has happened only twice in franchise history.
Certainly, Ventura, a fan favorite as a player and management favorite as a person, has yet to distinguish himself as a manager. He is 373-432, the worst winning percentage (.463) of any White Sox manager lasting at least three seasons. The White Sox, in fact, have had only six managers who have lasted longer than five seasons: Jimmy Dykes (1934-46), Al Lopez (1957-65), Chuck Tanner (1970-75), Tony La Russa (1979-86), Jerry Manuel (1998-2003) and Ozzie Guillen (2004-11).”
That part earlier about the reaction not making sense should be starting to make some more sense to you know Bob. Actually this appears like you are making my point for me and maybe you’re coming around to how you can understand our anger.
“Still, the White Sox believe in Ventura, still convinced he’s the right man for the job. They aren’t about to fire him simply to find a scapegoat to appease an angry and frustrated fan base.”
Well no, because he wouldn’t be fired. His contract is up. The organization can just choose not to give him another one. Sell it as a mutual parting of ways if they want. But no one is getting fired technically.
“Perhaps instead of the White Sox being condemned, they should be praised for their fearlessness, making unpopular personnel decisions to the outside world but revealing their deep loyalty to everyone inside the baseball industry.
What’s wrong with that?”
Wait, what?! They should be praised for their unpopular personnel decisions that have led to an eight year playoff drought and the longest stretch of losing seasons in club history? Praised for decisions that have built a club that can’t compete despite having two of the best pitchers in the American League, a legit middle of the order hitter, and one of the best all-around players in the game?
They should be praised for their deep loyalty to everyone inside the baseball industry, says Nightengale. Does that include the players that have said on multiple occasions that they don’t feel that is the case when it comes to them?
That is just the start of what’s wrong with that line of thinking and I didn’t even get into any specifics in regards to Ventura.
“Does anyone really believe the White Sox would have reached the playoffs this year, or in any of the previous four seasons, if someone besides Ventura were in the dugout?”
Ah, this tired old song and dance. Well I guess no manager should ever be fired (or not retained as the case is here). Although this sure sounds like some of those unpopular personnel moves that you just wanted to praise them for are now where you are choosing to place the blame.
“Now, if Ventura wants to walk away at the season’s conclusion, tormented by the losses and battered by the constant abuse, who could blame him?
Yet at least the man can walk away with dignity, knowing it will be his call, staying put or leaving on his terms.”
Yes, it is us, the evil White Sox fans that have driven Robin away. Not the fact that from the beginning of his tenure, you could never really tell whether or not Ventura wanted the job at all. I’m sure the fans of other teams wouldn’t be questioning him at all after four straight losing seasons.
And this stuff about letting him walk away with dignity, are you kidding me? Every manager takes the job knowing that one day they will be fired. That is just the nature of the business. Ventura was hired to lead a group of men, if you think he is so fragile that he needs to save face and dignity in leaving, then you should never have hired him in the first place. On the contrary, Ventura is a grown man, he knows the score. I would resent that this situation has become public if I were him.
After mentioning several other managers likely to be fired Nightengale finishes up with this:
“The others on the hot seat at the season’s outset? Well, you can watch John Farrell managing the Boston Red Sox in the postseason, if not the World Series. New York Mets manager Terry Collins is being lauded for keeping his depleted team in the wild-card race, fending off rumors he would be dismissed. And no one has been fired by more media outlets than Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who has his team in the thick of the wild-card race.
Who knows, maybe everyone’s coming back and not a single soul gets fired.
That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, would it?”
This is terrible on several levels but the most obvious is that he is comparing Ventura and his ZERO playoff appearances to a manager that led his current team to a World Series title (Farrell) and a manager that led his team to the World Series LAST YEAR (Collins).
As for Ausmus, well I live in Detroit and can tell you exactly how the fans here feel about Ausmus. It’s pretty much the same way Sox fans feel about Ventura, and Robin doesn’t have the Tigers payroll to work with. But even Brad Ausmus has a playoff appearance and a division title under his belt. Other than all that stuff, dead on comparisons.
It sure would be nice to live in a world where nobody gets fired, but alas, we are not in that world. And we never have been. Some managers get hired and fired before they really have a chance to do anything, ask Rick Renteria. Others hang around longer than they should because of past accomplishments. Robin Ventura does not fall into either category.
I hate being the guy to tell someone that “you don’t get it because you aren’t from here” but that is kind of where we are at. Is Bob Nightengale watching the Sox on a daily basis and seeing Ventura butcher in-game decisions on a day in and day out basis? Probably not. We are. This organization continues to tell its fans that things are going to get better and they want to win, and yet here we are. Same story with a roster. There is one constant though. So yeah, why not change it up and at least pretend like you are trying any and all options. Would that be so bad, would it?