Monday, October 10, 2011

Ventura Ventures Into Uncharted Territory

     Having tired of biting the hand that fed him for eight years, Ozzie Guillen recently concluded that it was time to leave his post as manager of the White Sox. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Kenny Williams were only too eager to agree--so eager, in fact, that they couldn't even wait until the end of the season. They granted Guillen his release with two games remaining on the schedule, so he could get a head start alienating his next employer, the Florida Marlins.
     All the self-appointed experts were sure that Williams would choose one of two former White Sox players, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Davey Martinez, to replace Guillen. As it turned out, however, neither Alomar nor Martinez even got an interview before the job was offered to and accepted by yet another former Sox player, Robin Ventura. Ventura has never coached or managed at any level of baseball from Little League on up, so his hiring came as a shock to everyone, including Ventura himself.
     Ventura the player had plenty of heart and character, qualities that should serve him well in his new role. He was one of the most popular White Sox of recent decades, so the fans will probably give Ventura the manager the benefit of the doubt, at least for a while. Only time will tell, of course, how he fares.
     Below is a brief listing of some noteworthy achievements--good, bad, and middling--of Ventura's predecessors as White Sox skipper.

World Series champions
1906 - Fielder Jones
1917 - Pants Rowland
2005 - Ozzie Guillen

American League champions
1901 - Clark Griffith
1906 - Fielder Jones
1917 - Pants Rowland
1919 - Kid Gleason
1959 - Al Lopez
2005 - Ozzie Guillen

Division champions
1983 - Tony LaRussa
1993 - Gene Lamont
1994 - Gene Lamont [season ended in August]
2000 - Jerry Manuel
2005 - Ozzie Guillen
2008 - Ozzie Guillen

Finished exactly .500
1922 - Kid Gleason
1941 - Jimmie Dykes
1974 - Chuck Tanner
2002 - Ozzie Guillen

Finished in last place
1924 - Johnny Evers, Ed Walsh, Eddie Collins
1931 - Donie Bush
1934 - Lew Fonseca, Jimmie Dykes
1948 - Ted Lyons
1970 - Don Gutteridge, Bill Adair, Chuck Tanner
1976 - Paul Richards
1989 - Jeff Torborg