Sox find the anti-Guillen in Ventura
If there was any doubt in your mind about how glad the White Sox were to be rid of Ozzie Guillen, you need know only two words:
He's the walking, breathing antithesis of Guillen.
Gone will be the drama and petulance that stood in the way of even the simplest of organizational steps.
Gone will be the unnecessary battles with GM Ken Williams, who need not fear any longer what imaginary issue he might wake up to find in the newspaper.
Gone will be the trips to Principal Reinsdorf's office.
Robin Ventura will be happy and he will put the ballclub first.
Williams claims, however, that he doesn't expect Ventura to agree with everything he says.
"I can be a strong-minded person," Williams admitted Thursday. "I need someone who's not afraid to challenge me, but also someone who communicates well."
There was a time when Guillen was precisely that. He was happy, attentive and a darn good manager, but as his anger grew and his need to be pacified ached at all hours, Guillen forgot why he was here.
With Ventura, Williams will not only be in complete charge again but he will work with his manager minus the concern that he might hurt Ventura's feelings with an innocuous suggestion or personnel move.
Make no mistake because there was plenty of blame to go around that relationship, but the unending hysterics took a terrible toll on Jerry Reinsdorf, Williams and the entire organization.
"When it comes to your job, there's only so much you can take of the stress level," said Paul Konerko when Guillen departed. "When something like this happens, everyone is a bit relieved because they realize this isn't life and death. Ozzie's going to be fine and Kenny is going to be fine. We're going to move on."
The White Sox have moved on to Robin Ventura, the anti-Ozzie in personality but similar in that Ventura's a complete unknown when it comes to his managing ability.
"I do not expect him to be Tony La Russa on Day One," Williams said. "We are committed to a growth process with Robin. Ultimately, we think he'll be one of the best managers in the game."
If the Sox want Ventura to learn on the job, you could argue that it doesn't matter whether he learns his craft in the minors or here in Chicago, where he will have a team that may not go all-in again for several years.
"I realized I haven't managed," Ventura said. "I did have apprehension, but I'm in a place where I have as much support as I could possibly have in any organization, where I have a chance to grow into the job."
There's no better support than Don Cooper, one of the best pitching coaches in the game and someone on whom Ventura can lean heavily before, during and after games.
He will need a strong coaching staff that helps bring stability and professionalism back to a club that lacked fundamentals the last couple years.
"I know as a player, everyone was accountable," Ventura said. "It's all about winning games and doing it the right way and caring about what your teammates do.
"We have work to do and jobs to do. Come to work and play hard and you better be accountable."
If he sounds old-school, it's because he is. Ventura was never afraid to call out a teammate, but he also has an affable way about him that makes it sound less like an order and more like a suggestion.
Nevertheless, it's a huge gamble for Williams.
The 44-year-old Ventura only returned to baseball in June when he was hired by the White Sox as a special adviser to player development boss Buddy Bell, someone Ventura will continue to seek out as he learns a new job.
Still, some in the organization expected once he came back that Ventura would join the major-league staff in short order, perhaps as hitting coach in 2012, but Thursday's announcement was shocking even to Ventura.
"I thought Ozzie would be here for a long time," Ventura said. "I thought coaching would probably be the first step for me."
Turns out it is not and Williams had to sell him on the job. Now, the Sox will have to sell another fan favorite — as they did with Guillen — to a fan base that supports results first and emotion somewhere down the list.
Critics will immediately wonder if peace and quiet is good for a franchise always fighting for more attention, but the good news for Reinsdorf is that White Sox fans don't buy tickets to see managers. The bad news is they buy tickets to see playoff teams.
Only time will tell whether Ventura can do the job and how quickly the Sox can clean up the roster and return to the postseason.
In the meantime, Reinsdorf can sleep well at night and turn off his phone — knowing the manager won't cause it to explode first thing in the morning.
• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
- Share Facebook Twitter
Article sent to (required)E-mail
Article sent from (required)E-mail Name
Subject Line (article title)
Message (optional)Success - Article sent Click to close
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.
Contact information ( * required )Name * Company Telephone * E-mail *
Article InformationTitle URL
Message (optional)Success - Reprint request sent Click to close