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The World Series hasn't even begun yet, and the White Sox have already had the most bizzare off season I can recall in many years. 

First, disgruntled manager Ozzie Guillen was traded to the Florida Marlins. Not only is that quite rare (only the 3rd time in history a manager has been traded for players) but Kenny Williams managed to fleece the Marlins out of two of their top five (or six depending on which scouting report you read) prospects in the process. For a manager I can't see lasting more than 3 years in Florida, but that's another blog. 

As soon as the Ozzie deal was official, the names were dropped and debated. Sandy Alomar Jr. and Davey Martinez were believed to be the front runners to make the lineup cards next year.  Both have strong ties to the organization as ex-players and both are highly regarded baseball men. Martinez, the Rays bench coach, especially is considered ready for the job and expected to do well in it once he gets his shot.

Then the Red Sox parted ways with Terry Francona, seemingly throwing a monkey wrench into the process. Francona also has strong ties to the White Sox having gotten his start as a coach and then manager in the teams minor league system. Tito also has the resume' that would bring the fans out. How can you argue with a 2 time World Series winning manager?

Most fans would have been quite happy with any of these three men and were expecting one of them to be named the new skipper any day now as Kenny had stated he planned to have someone hired before the World Series. It was expected the only hold up might be contract negotiations, especially if Francona was the choice, or waiting until his season was finished if it were Martinez. 

So today...the anticipation, the predictions, the hopes, the dreams were all answered when Kenny Williams announced the next field general of the Chicago White Sox would be...

Robin Ventura

Huh? That one came out of left field, to be sure. Robin fits the Reinsdorf mold of hiring ex-White Sox players to run the team on the field. But so did Alomar and Martinez. And they both are much more experienced with seemingly better resumes. Kenny could have named Scott Fletcher or Jermaine Dye and I wouldn't have been any more surprised than I am with Ventura.

Robin is best known outside of White Sox nation as the kid who charged Nolan Ryan only to be thoroughly embarassed when the old man proceeded to kick his ass. White Sox fans will remember him as the best Third Baseman in the teams history, and maybe his penchant for hitting home runs with the bases loaded (Robins 18 grand slams ranks him 5th all time). College fans, particularly Oklahoma St. fans, may remember him from his still Division I record 58 game hitting streak, the College baseball Hall of Famer was voted as the #3 College player in history after Bob Horner and Pete Incaviglia by Baseball America. 

But manager? 

As a fan of the White Sox, you eventually learn to not let much shock you. The head scratching moves seemingly never end. But this one came as more than a minor surprise with such other options available. 

The worst part is, I don't even know what to think about this hire. Ventura doesn't have a track record to point to and until today, I didn't even know he was interested in being a MLB manager. He's never managed so much as a lemonade stand as far as I know and his only non-player baseball job was as a "special adviser" to the director of player development. A job he's held all of 3 months.

One thing about Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf...they are certainly unpredictable. As unpredictable as whether Robin Ventura is up to the task of his new job. 

October 6, 2011  09:33 PM ET

Good blog. I think it was a decent hire.

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October 7, 2011  01:31 PM ET

Baseball managers are overrated. All they really have to do is set the lineup, which usually doesn't change all that much day-to-day, and manage the bullpen. The bullpen is the toughest part of the job.

 
October 7, 2011  02:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Baseball managers are overrated. All they really have to do is set the lineup, which usually doesn't change all that much day-to-day, and manage the bullpen. The bullpen is the toughest part of the job.

This is very wrong, Argos.

Managing a baseball team is the same as managing any other business. Setting policies (lineup cards) and making schedules (bullpen management) is the easy, mundane part of the job. Often times employees and customers alike think that's all a manager does, but that is far from accurate. Good managers in all businesses put in long hours doing things you never see in order to make their business successful. Baseball is no different.

I used a McDonalds analogy the other day. They all look the same. They all have the same concept and same menu. They all employ the same quality of people. But you can go to one restaurant and receive good quality and service then go to another right down the road that has awful quality and service. The difference is the manager and his ability to lead, direct, and get the most out of the crew he has.

Baseball is exponentially harder to run than a Mickey D's. You have to get 25 guys and multiple coaches all working toward the same goal. Sure, everyone wants to 'win', but they don't all have the same ideas on how to accomplish that. And with professional athletes you are usually dealing with huge ego's that often clash, and guys who are more concerned with their personal stats than they are the team overall, etc. It's the way the system is designed.

A player does better on a personal basis by swinging for the fences than laying down a sacrifice bunt, for example. When contract time comes, they don't ask how many times you moved the runner over in a critical situation, they ask how many HR's and RBI you had. Or what your BA was. There is no glory, (or pay), in hitting a ground ball to the right side of the infield to move a runner from 2nd to 3rd setting it up for someone else to drive him in.

A manager has to meld all of those personalities, and selfish attitudes and get them to play for the team rather than for their own paychecks. That's an incredibly difficult thing to do.

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