Manager changes for White Sox, but fundamental problems remain

Bernie Lincicome
Chicago Tribune

The Cubs may need your prayers, it's true, but save a few for the White Sox too. They only did what they had to do and now you can forget about them altogether.

It is coming to that, complete irrelevance, South Side trivia. There used to be a ball team there.

It matters not that little of it was Robin Ventura's fault. Not his credit either. You do not shoot the bus driver because the engine doesn't work. Except in baseball. In baseball heads roll and you are expected to feel sorry for the ax.

Every manager has two middle names, scape and goat.

Ventura was or was not fired, not that it matters. Let's say he and the White Sox reached a gentlemen's agreement. Ventura always has been a gentleman and a gentle man, asset and flaw.

Still, Ventura may be the worst manager the Sox ever have had. He is at least near the head of a line that starts with Terry Bevington. Who knows? He gave it a shot.

Ventura is a decent man, a man whose departure should have caused a bit more notice than the footnote it was. Thank the Cubs for keeping the noise down.

And so Ventura came, he twiddled and did the best he could. He left without trumpets or streamers. Hardly noticed he was there, hardly will notice that he isn't.

The Sox had to be ready for this. Ventura certainly was. He read the writing on the wall before it was written. And I'm guessing it was written when Chris Sale refused to wear a silly shirt to work. Or maybe as early as when Adam LaRoche walked away hand-in-hand with his son and plenty of money in the bank.

These were side shows that became big shows because the Sox did not win enough baseball games. A little nuttiness does not matter when you are in first place, right Joe Maddon?

The truth is, the Sox are not that bad a team. They should have done better than they did. Solid starting pitching. Dependable hitting, if not enough of it. The next guy might do better. Hey, that guy who was sitting next to Ventura, looks familiar. Let's try him.

If the Sox plan all along was to tap the guy sitting next to the guy, well, at least it was some kind of plan, plans not being a familiar White Sox resource.

Maybe the only plan is a shrug, or self-serving gibberish covered by a breath mint and a frown.

As long as Jerry Reinsdorf indulges the earwigs who make the vital choices for the Sox, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, nothing will change. Williams has so many sides of his mouth to talk out of he can eat a pizza, whistle "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and blow smoke up his own nose at the same time.

And now there is Rick Renteria, as publicly anonymous as he was during the entire season he kept the Cubs' seat warm for Joe Maddon.

A little cheerier it would seem, bouncier, not Ozzie-esque but bilingual, which seems to be his primary qualification for the job.

Ventura is gone because the Sox lost games. This is the enduring math of baseball, as profound and sacred as the infield fly rule. This does not mean that the Sox now will win baseball games. It only means that losing has a fresh alibi, temporarily at least in Renteria.

The Sox that win again may not be these Sox, not with the next manager after this one, not with the next general manager, not with a new vice president of meddling, a job that ought to be eliminated.

For now Renteria is in charge, in the same way that the wagon is in charge of the mule. He seems harmless and at least is lively.

The awkward and ill-assorted White Sox landlords are unable to completely ruin the enduring fondness that lingers for their team no matter what. Sox fans still find time to keep score and think good thoughts.

And try not to notice what's going on at that other ballpark on the North Side.

Bernie Lincicome is a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune.

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