By Matt Spiegel–
(CBS) So there’s no official offer of a contract for the White Sox’s lame-duck manager, Robin Ventura.
The clarification came late Wednesday night, via USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, after his report earlier in the day that the White Sox had decided to retain Ventura — if he wants to come back.
The White Sox haven’t begun contract talks, but the decision to return is absolutely going to be up to Ventura. As usual, Nightengale’s information comes from “a high-ranking White Sox official.”
The message is this from the White Sox: We like Ventura, this isn’t his fault and the ball is 100 percent in his court.
That story leak is their attempt, from the very top of the organization, to maintain the appearance of loyalty. The White Sox take care of their own. A soldier as good as Ventura would never be fired or simply dismissed. We respect and value our people.
Of course, everyone already knows this. Reinsdorf-ian loyalty is legendary and is to be respected. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has also proved by now to be loyal to a fault, letting incompetence persist for years at a time.
I had always thought and said that the end for Ventura would be a mutual parting, that everyone would try to have it come off gracefully, respectfully.
Instead, look at what this story leak does. Look at the damage it does to a relationship they were trying to protect.
It puts the onus on Ventura to be the one who bails. I thoroughly believe that he will, whether it be to go back to California or take some other position within the organization.
This passive-aggressive force into retreat is publicly emasculating to him. It’s far more embarrassing to him than simply saying, “We tried hard to win together for five years, and it just didn’t work out.”
That message isn’t insulting.
This will make Ventura look like a quitter. It reinforces what it has seemed like forever, that he didn’t want this job and has just been taking one for the organization. On Wednesday, Ventura was asked, again, whether he liked this job. Five years into his tenure, the public and the media still can’t believe the man wants to be here.
This also gives everyone one more reason and opportunity to rip him.
I and others have written so much about how bad Ventura is at this job, how his greatest strength was those five months in 2012 when he wasn’t Ozzie Guillen. We wrote how he’s praised as a manager who’s great with relationships and the clubhouse, all while the White Sox have embarrassed themselves with Drake LaRoche and Chris Scissorhands.
The fact that the team is appearing to want Ventura back means the conversation comes up again how void of managerial strengths he is. One more kick in the pants on your way out the door, faithful employee.
This leak also makes the front office look to some as if they actually do want him back. By wins and losses, he’s easily the worst manager in franchise history. Now you have a lot of fans thinking: “My god, this franchise wants that manager back. They must be incredibly stupid.”
They are being stupid in this situation but for different reasons than that.
Fans are either angry or apathetic right now. This news day and the many tangential storylines it presents make those emotions even more intense. That is, if apathy can be intensified. The vast majority are disgusted. I have heard from very, very few fans defending the franchise itself or Kenny Williams or the owner or the manager.
This story leak, this bidding that a “high-ranking” front office member decided to have USA Today do, was a terrible idea.
Almost as terrible as the idea of bringing back Robin Ventura as manager.
Matt Spiegel is a host on the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on weekdays. Follow him on Twitter @MattSpiegel670.