By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) To paraphrase Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction: When the playoffs start, you may feel a slight sting — that’s pride (bleeping) with you.
That sting is OK. You should allow yourself to live in that moment. Let it be a reminder as the White Sox go into the offseason of how far they have to go.
I’m a bit of a baseball romantic, so on Thursday, I found myself watching the White Sox one last time this season in person. It’s important because in December and January, you miss baseball — even bad baseball. Walking out of the stadium, I had reached detente with the 2015 season and was looking forward to taking some time away from this team.
Then Friday hit.
For some reason, this team decided to announce it was letting bench coach Mark Parent go and that Harold Baines would be moving back to his team ambassador role after serving as the assistant hitting coach. It was an ill-timed Friday news dump. It didn’t sit well with me because it was just another example of the South Side nine focusing on the wrong thing. Plus, you couldn’t wait two more days until the season was over?
Co-worker Jason Goff was listening to my show and tweeted what’s below.
Somebody pissed @LaurenceWHolmes off. That boy firin'!—
Jason Goff (@Jason1Goff) October 02, 2015
Let me tell you why I was firin’. Inside the announcement of Parent being let go, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn also said that Robin Ventura would be back for the 2016 campaign. Now, I’m no Ventura hater. In fact, I think he’s a good man who tries his hardest. He’s generous with his time for White Sox charities and has genuine love for the franchise. I respect that, but as a manager, he’s not special, and this team needs to start looking for elite talent everywhere, not just on the field.
When you think about Ventura the manager, is he a great tactician? Has the team improved defensively under his teaching? Does he have a handle on helping hitters improve? How about the bullpen, does he handle it well? Ventura has tried his hardest to improve the team, but his message for the last four years hasn’t gotten through.
Talent’s an issue, but I disagree with the blanket statement that managers don’t matter. Allow me to amend it: Most managers don’t matter. There’s a small collection of guys around the majors who do (Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Bruce Bochy and Mike Scioscia), then there’s a pile of “meh” managers followed by just-fired Nationals skipper Matt Williams. Ventura’s in the group of “meh” managers, and he’s in the bottom of that group.
I’m not looking for change for change’s sake. The White Sox need to be strategic in their approach. As an extension of that, your manager needs to be a strategic arm of that approach. There’s been nothing in Ventura’s tenure that points to that being the case.
So, that sting will be there. Watching the Royals, who have taken a stranglehold of the AL Central, it will be there. Watching the Rangers, who used some shrewd moves in the offseason and in-season to win the AL West, it’ll be there. Watching Mark Buehrle, even if he isn’t on the Blue Jays’ playoff roster, knowing he helped them get into the playoffs, that sting will be there. And yes, watching the fruits of Cubs successful teardown project, that sting will be there.
It’s been a bad season, and I’m extremely jealous of other teams. Outside of Jose Abreu continuing to be a monster, Chris Sale entertaining us with strikeouts every five days and Trayce Thompson showing some promise (and remember, Ventura kept playing Adam LaRoche over Thompson), it hasn’t been much fun.
On Thursday, I left the ballpark happy this season was going away. What really bugs me is that the White Sox just couldn’t go away quietly.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.