While Dan Hayes now covers the Twins for The Athletic, he revisited his old stomping grounds on the White Sox beat this week to talk to Robin Ventura, who is currently taking a full-time course load at Oklahoma State in order to be a student coach for the Cowboys baseball team.
It sounds like Ventura’s schedule will only meander toward a major if he’s lucky…
Ventura is only taking classes that interest him. Among the subjects he’s studied so far are digital media, beer brewing and agricultural leadership.
… which sounds terrific, because I’d take college courses for fun if it didn’t cost me anything. The story is more about Ventura rediscovering a form of baseball instruction that suits him after his time as White Sox manager dissolved into the memory hole.
Speaking of which, the way Ventura characterized the end of his managerial tenure struck a dissonant note to my recollection. Here’s his version:
Faced with being reassigned to the front office, Ventura stepped away after amassing a 375-435 record. […]
“You miss it,” Ventura said. “You just get to a point where you want something to do. I didn’t really want to go back and just sit and watch games like a front office (role). There’s just something about being in the cage and being involved. This came up. There were other things I could have done, but this one, I just needed a change and this fit perfectly.”
And here’s how (probably) Jerry Reinsdorf described the end of Robin Ventura’s firing to Bob Nightengale back in 2016.
A high-ranking White Sox executive told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that the club plans to soon extend an offer to bring Ventura back for next season, waiting only to see if he has a desire to return.
Ventura ended up leaving after the final day of the season, supposedly of his own volition even though everybody figured otherwise. It would’ve been a lot cleaner had Reinsdorf not felt compelled to construct the façade, but when it comes to managerial hirings and firings of personal favorites, Reinsdorf is allergic to conducting himself in a way that’s either straight or forward.
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The Ventura story would’ve been ticketed for a Spare Parts or other roundup because it’s not the most pressing of news at the onset of spring training, except Nightengale served us up another course of misdirection earlier today. He wrote a lengthy story on the restart of Tony La Russa’s career, which is worth reading because the White Sox’s insularity means you probably won’t get this information anywhere else, at least until the pandemic lifts.
Regarding when the White Sox knew of La Russa’s drunk driving charge, Reinsdorf now presents it this way:
La Russa, after dining with Angels employees in spring training last February, was charged with driving under the influence while returning home. It was his second drunken-driving arrest after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DUI during spring training in 2007 with the Cardinals.
La Russa informed Angels owner Arte Moreno of the arrest the following day and offered to resign. Moreno kept him all season. When the White Sox started the interview process with La Russa in October, he also told Reinsdorf of the incident. Reinsdorf didn’t share it with anyone.
Which doesn’t line up with how the White Sox responded after the arrest made the news:
Reinsdorf freezing his communications department out of information they might need to know for crisis management helps explain why the team needed three whole days to say “the White Sox understand the seriousness of the charges.” Rick Hahn offered zero clarity on the Zoom when 670 The Score’s Danny Parkins asked him about Reinsdorf’s supposed silence today, but he didn’t refute the account, either.
Hahn’s answer in full:
“You know, Danny, today is … as I sit here today and … really, of all days, the day when there’s optimism and excitement and we’ve got — we’re back together in the same place for the first time in a while, and we have World Series aspirations, I’m not that interested in sort of going through the hiring process and decision and communication and the internal elements of that. Honestly, like, the last few months working with Tony have been — I’ve gotten more and more excited about where this team is headed and what he’s going to contribute.
“Sitting here today and looking at the staff we were able to assemble, I’m just thrilled with the conversations we’ve had — unfortunately mostly via Zoom — with the conversations we’ve had and the position we’ve got this team in right now. And my focus is not on rehashing something that happened four or five months ago, it’s about the excitement that we feel as we get ready to try to win a championship.
“So I know that’s probably an unsatisfying answer, but honestly, Danny, that’s as candid as I can be about the thing is that I’m looking forward to the future. I’m not trying to rehash the past process.”
This isn’t my ideal first-day-of-spring-training story either, which is why I’m posting this in the afternoon with a palate-cleanser rounding up the normal White Sox news Thursday morning. On the heels of my initial thoughts about the first spring of La Russa’s autumn, and my general optimism in spite of the dissatisfaction, I more wanted to nail down this particular dynamic in case it comes back to bite them.
We’ve seen what happens with the White Sox when the manager can bypass the general manager and take his concerns directly to the chairman. It gave birth to the cold war between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen, with the situation deteriorating to such an extent that it took 10 years to consider the damage a thing of the past. Industrial disasters of that scale usually require a change in building codes, but Reinsdorf’s weirdness demands the Sox to stick to the blueprints that fueled the front office’s first Triangle Shirtwaist situation and hope they can prevail in a best-of-three.
(Photo by Paul Bergstrom/Icon Sportswire)
“So I know that’s probably an unsatisfying answer, but honestly, Danny, that’s as candid as I can be about the thing is that I’m looking forward to the future. I’m not trying to rehash the past process.” – Rick Hahn, 2021
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner, 1951
Apparently Nightengale went on Parkins and Spiegel on 670 The Score and dropped a mess.
This isn’t going to make Hahn’s life any easier.
Last time we had clown shows involving our manager we won a World Series in between. It might work again. I’ll take it.
The Padres just gave Tatis a 340 million dollar
deal yet Jerry can’t even swing one 9 figure deal.
San Diego now has given out three 9 figure deals with their current ownership group in that market
Hahn traded a 340 million dollars player for the carcass of James Shield.
and Jerry will proudly display it on his Mercedes.
Those fools!! How are they supposed to win championships without payroll flexibility?!
Parkins seems very over the top interested in the LaRussa DUI issue. Sox fans, which he is not, are more concerned about Adam Eaton, the DH, the 5th starter and other baseball issues. Parkins should host an afternoon talk show on tv and get off the radio.
That is what a media is supposed to be doing. He should be trying to get the facts and hold people to account.
What if I’m among the people who’s glad Parkins asked?
That would be shocking, Jim.
Jim, you recognize sarcasm, yes?
BTW – There was a very good golfer who died in a plane crash near Chicago in 1966. British Open winner. You might have a new nickname for the Sox manager!
You can’t have all the sycophant up- voters without the down-votes, Chairman Mar.
Think about that before you issue a blanket dismissal.
Why would his being a sox fan matter one way or the other?
Sounds like you’re less upset that he’s biased, and more upset that he doesn’t share your bias.
Wouldn’t his being a sox fan make him biased, which you are apparently against?
I fully expect to find out in July that Jerry was the one who got LaRussa drunk in Arizona and then bet him a job as White Sox manager that Tony didn’t have to balls to drive home.
This could have been sub-titled, “Whose on First”
studio audience: “WHAT KIND OF OFFER IS IT”
It must be nice to use the chairman on background, even though the cost of access is obfuscation. Nightengale has to eat a lot of shit, but we all have our job to do, and he does his … well, he does it.
Nightengale also cast La Russa being late for his media availability as a positive, as it was because he was busy with meetings and such.