At what point during Rick Hahn’s end-of-season address did you lose hope that the White Sox had learned anything meaningful from the last two years?
There were the recycled quotes that basically render Hahn a Teddy Ruxpin in Charles Tyrwhitt. There’s the idea that the White Sox are “not going to be able to throw money at the problem,” even though the team never actually tried that in any significant sense. There’s the sense that Hahn is the only one who can fire himself, and he professed that he isn’t close to reaching that point.
He emphasized that point by trafficking in condescension, which I hope was only a temporary pity party …
… because if Hahn’s saying that “only things that validate us are valid,” then we’re going to need to monitor his contributions on OpenSecrets.
But while all of those could inspire separate posts of angst, anger and anguish, Hahn’s description of the upcoming managerial process is where I checked out:
“Similar to probably just about every major decision since I’ve been around here for over the last 20-odd years, in the end, it’s a collaborative process and ideally, Kenny, Jerry and I come up with a consensus,” Hahn said. “I’ll be leading the process. I’ll be the one having these initial conversations here, but over the coming months — or coming weeks, I should say, I really hope it’s not months — over the coming weeks, there will be a number of people being part of these conversations. Obviously, Jerry, Kenny, Chris Getz, Jeremy Haber, we may have some former players involved as well. It’s really a matter of getting the best opinion of someone and in the end, making a recommendation and all being on the same page.”
It’s impossible to expect accountability when 1) the decision-makers know they’re never going to get fired, and 2) the decision-makers keep adding decision-makers to decision-making in order to defray heat.
This reminds me of the 2020 trade deadline, when Hahn organized a committee to ascertain how much help the White Sox needed.
Asked about weighing the addition of a player with character questions, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn revealed that Sunday included not just a walk-off win, but a meeting around a conference table at Guaranteed Rate Field involving himself, executive vice president Kenny Williams, manager Rick Renteria, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and seven key veterans.
All of that brain power resulted in a flurry of deadline activity that … yielded Jarrod Dyson and nobody else, and the White Sox weren’t special enough to make use of such a specialist.
Hahn talked about the great harmony at that meeting, but after the White Sox fired Renteria, there were reports that friction had developed between the manager and the front office. Renteria allegedly stumped for the Sox to add pitching at the deadline, and sure enough, Dane Dunning was the third-best starter in a three-game series.
Of course, Renteria was fired in part because he showed no interest in leveraging openers or other alternative pitching arrangements, leaving him unprepared to execute a do-or-die plan against Oakland. But I can also appreciate if Renteria stumped for pitching because he was aware of his weaknesses, and he wanted a roster that stood a chance of compensating. If Hahn operated the same way, maybe right field wouldn’t be a brownfield.
Hahn reflects no such urgency or awareness, which is how he can discuss a managerial search as though the personnel cited by Hahn hadn’t sabotaged their three previous efforts.
It doesn’t make me happy to know that Reinsdorf or Williams are involved, because the last input they were personally responsible for resulted in Tony La Russa and Robin Ventura. Nobody has ever taken the time to explain what a Jeremy Haber is, and now’s not the time to start. There isn’t a single former White Sox player who needs to be apprised, because it’s not like Ron Kittle’s bat benches are dependent on personal measurements.
The more names Hahn invokes, the more places blame can be distributed when everything goes wrong, and the easier he can personally shrug away the criticism and conduct business as usual. When Hahn talks about “the accountability we all want to have,” he’s probably being more honest than he realizes. He’d probably love to have none, and working for the White Sox is the closest way to realize that dream.