I am not a White Sox fan. I’ve written about how much I like their park, but it’s always been Plan B when it comes to baseball for me. Actually, it’s more like Plan C, since going to games in ballparks I haven’t seen before is Plan B. But it is still baseball, and I respect that far ahead of football or other such sporting events.
The White Sox introduced Robin Ventura as their manager yesterday. He and Ozzie Guillen were teammates back in the 90s, and I guess that the White Sox prefer having their old players act as manager instead of baseball guys who didn’t play on the South side. And I must preface this with an acknowledgement that hiring Ozzie led to the kind of results that I’m still patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for on the North side of Chicago.
Looking at this, what has to be Robin Ventura’s rookie card, it reveals a rather unusual path to the big leagues. I say that because much is being made of the fact that Ventura hasn’t been a coach in the minors before taking a big league job. Ryne Sandberg has been paying his dues in the minor leagues for a few years now, waiting for a big league job to open up for him (and it will, very soon, hopefully as the Cubs’ manager). Every big league manager started off coaching or managing at a level below the majors. That’s just the way it’s done.
But like Bruce Hornsby said, don’t you believe them. The White Sox drafted Ventura out of Oklahoma State in 1988, and he played one year at Birmingham, the White Sox double-A affiliate that Michael Jordan would play for a few years later. He then played 16 games for the White Sox that season, and from then on he was a major leaguer.
Ventura missed out on the usual minor league experience of moving from town to town, organization to organization, hoping to receive the call to the majors that every minor leaguer wants. He put in one year and that was it. I can imagine how others may have thought he jumped the line, and in reality that’s what he did. But as long as he produced in the majors, how he got there really doesn’t matter.
The same is true of the manger’s position. The White Sox took a chance on Ventura as a player, and it worked out very well for them, and so now they’re taking another chance on him as a manager. History is on their side in this.