You can say that what happened to Rick Renteria was awful, and few people will disagree. He did the job the Cubs hired him to do in 2014 – manage a bad team – and then they canned him after one season when somebody they deemed better came along.
But isn’t that what we refer to as “professional sports?’’ You try to find the best players to help you win. Why is that different for managers? In essence, Renteria got benched. The Cubs hired Joe Maddon to take his place, and they’re still paying Renteria, the way they would a demoted player.
The White Sox had a conference call Wednesday to introduce Renteria as their new bench coach. It was the first time he addressed his messy firing on the North Side, and he was gracious, almost to a fault.
“I’m totally, completely happy with the opportunity that the Ricketts family and Jed (Hoyer) and Theo (Epstein) and everybody in the organization extended to me to get on the field as a manager with the Chicago Cubs,’’ he said. “It was a great experience. Obviously, anybody that’s been in that arena knows that change sometimes occurs, even as abruptly as it might have seemed.
“Things happen. There were a lot of kids that were over on that club this year, and a lot of people I worked alongside over there that deserve to have as much success as they possibly can. No, there are no hard feelings. When you step away from it a little bit and you reflect, it’s just a business. It’s just baseball. It doesn’t take away from anything that I believe we brought to the table at the time.’’
Maddon’s departure from Tampa Bay to take the place of a skipper who had spent just a year on the job did not go over well with the managing fraternity. But, again, why are there different standards for managers and players? Hoyer, the Cubs’ general manager, recently expressed regret about how they had treated Renteria at the end, but would they have done it differently given the chance? Probably not. Not after 97 regular-season victories.
Renteria did admit that “you get the wind blown out of you a little bit’’ after such an out-of-the-blue firing. He said that he responded to a Maddon phone call with a text after he was fired but that he didn’t see a need for the two to speak.
He has had a year to think about how the Cubs and Maddon handled the situation, and perhaps some of his initial feelings have softened. It’s hard to believe he wasn’t mad. But after he calmed down, he surely saw the reasoning behind it. And the results.