Ventura hire means class in session
PHIL ARVIA email@example.com | (708) 633-5949 October 7, 2011 5:58PM
Ozzie Guillen (right) shares a laugh with Robin Ventura after Ventura threw out the first pitch at the White Sox vs. Orioles game on May 12, 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field. | File photo
Updated: November 16, 2011 10:47AM
It is widely believed, not without reason, that part of every managerial hire is a direct response to the perceived failings of the preceding managerial fire.
Laid-back Jerry Manuel begets wild man Ozzie Guillen. Dusty “Dude” Baker begets Loony Lou Piniella.
It’s a pendulum from one approach to another, fiery to mellow, player’s coach to task-master.
Thus, a question arises following the White Sox’s hiring of Robin Ventura to replace Guillen. A youngish, beloved ex-Sox player with little experience being replaced by a youngish, beloved ex-Sox player with little experience represents a pendulum swing from what to what?
Readers of baseball tea leaves need read no further than Jerry Reinsdorf’s statement issued Thursday:
“You will not find a better teammate, leader and friend,” Reinsdorf said of Ventura. “His ability to motivate and lead others will be a terrific attribute as manager. I loved him as a player, from his baseball knowledge, to his professionalism, to how he went about his business in the clubhouse and on the diamond. Robin exudes class in everything he does.”
Robin exudes class in everything he does.
Sounds like a man who’d grown weary of offering thin, impotent smiles and the obligatory, “That’s just Ozzie being Ozzie” after every unnecessary flap brought about by Guillen’s inability to filter any thought that entered his head.
Set up to fail?
Some have reacted to news of Ventura’s hiring as though the Sox have asked, oh, a first-term governor in control of the 36th-largest state budget in the country to be the vice president.
Please. This is baseball. Ventura is absolutely the kind of man to consider fully the input of respected colleagues — pitching coach Don Cooper and a bench coach to be named — and reach his own decisions. There won’t be an in-game decision he can’t handle, and his clubhouse will no doubt take on the vibe Ventura cultivated as a player — relaxed but focused, professional but capable of having fun.
He’s got Carlton Fisk’s respect for the game without the off-putting pomposity, and Guillen’s ability to relate to players without the thin-skinned need for constant affirmation.
The toughest part of his new gig? Probably coordinating spring training. After that, making sure his very subtle, dry sense of humor translates to a public that likes its sound bites to be broad and instantly understood.
Besides, short-term, Ventura can’t really fail. The 2010 team already did that, and no one expects a thing from next year’s squad. If Ventura finds the key to Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios — assuming they all return — and Jake Peavy rebounds, Ventura is a hero.
Lose the corn cob dress
The worst part about Ventura’s hiring?
It guarantees there will be no Davey Martinez-vs.-Ryne Sandberg matchup in next summer’s crosstown classic.
Let it go?
Dan Hampton passed on the 1985 Bears’ visit to the White House on Friday for three reasons: One, his family wasn’t invited to join him. Two and three, as he told ESPNChicago.com, “I’m not a fan of the guy in the White House. And ... it was 25 years ago. Let it go.”
Hampton is a personable public presence. He has donated his time to this newspaper’s endeavors more than once, and we are appreciative. But ...
Let it go? None of the Super Bowl Bears has profited more from that team’s legacy than Hampton.
And if you’re going to cite a president’s politics as a reason to decline an invitation to the White House, by all means — to borrow a football phrase — finish the play. Make a real statement that offers solutions to what you believe are the problems.
Otherwise, you’re just another Bocephus getting a crummy song bumped off “Mondy Night Football.”
Not a lot of network TV makes me laugh out loud, but Wednesday’s “Modern Family” provided an exception.
Goofy dad Phil Dunphy is discussing the film, “The Blind Side,” with his daughter, Alex.
Phil: “ ‘Blind Side’ was a black kid who plays tight end.”
Alex: “Offensive line.”
Phil: “Sorry, African American kid.”