Here’s the far-fetched proposalfacing the White Sox:
Ozzie Guillen wants to manage. The same crazy No. 13 who could delight you one minute, then drive you nuts the next 59. Ken Williams has gnawing reservations — and for good reason.
An organization once the pride of the ever-flashy Bill Veeck was reimagined under the dangerously misguided notion in a two-team town of gliding quietly under the radar. Chairman Jerry Reinsforf loves his Ozzie but treasures his peace more.
No way the Sox seriously consider Guillen.
That was the thinking in 2003.
But the Sox threw their conventional wisdom out the window and made a bold move that paid the largest reward.
So why not do it again?
Robin Ventura occupies the job now. That’s the best you can say about Ventura as a manager: He occupies the job.
He was a terrific player and remains a genuinely likable guy. As a major-league manager, though, he’s mostly occupying a spot.
That’s not his fault. It’s what the Sox ordered up after Guillen’s first run.
Flying under the radar once suited the Sox’ need for tranquility.
Then general manager Rick Hahn veered from the sleepy script last winter and put the Sox in the middle of the scope, making one splashy move after another.No team was more aggressive last offseason, which makes it more puzzling that Ventura remains the manager as it all swirls away. His quiet, unassuming style is a bad fit.
It’s the last day of June, and the Sox are in last place in the American League Central, wishing they could trade spots with the Minnesota Twins. Who saw that in February? If you have watched the Sox lately, it’s painfully clear they need a wakeup call.
Too much was invested in winning this season. The Sox don’t have the luxury of remaining irrelevant in Chicago, not when the young Cubs took a wrecking ball to their losing ways. Even when the Cubs fall, they are interesting. The Sox? Each day that goes by without a shakeup to this sleepy team sends this message to their fans: We just don’t care.
It’s the white flag we thought Jerry had tucked away for good.
July will be all about recalling that World Series in 2005. The Sox will revel in the past —with Crede, Rowand, Guillen and Co. —while making it clear they have no future. Williams and Hahn can shake their heads and wring their hands about the embarrassing display of baseball, but it’s all empty nonsense without some sort of move.
Nudging Ventura toward resigning (see Ryne Sandberg’s “resignation” last week in Philadelphia for details about how to make it happen) would be the only available option to shake up this underachieving club.
Remember, Ventura was plucked from his quiet paradise in California and pushed into this impossible situation. At best, he was Plan B. As Williams scrambled to slam shut the book on Guillen in 2011, he made a desperate pitch to have Paul Konerko be his player/manager.
Paulie just laughed. So Ventura’s phone rang.
Never had he managed or even coached at the professional level. Instead of putting Ventura next to a seasoned bench coach, the equally unequipped Mark Parent was hired. Strike one, then strike two.
Parent was supposed to be the bad cop to Ventura’s good cop, but he mostly barks at deaf ears in a tuned-out clubhouse. Pitching coach Don Cooper? He’s more interested in building his brand and clearing his throat for his next radio show.
Say what you will about Guillen, but he would pump life into a team that needs some CPR. Players would have no choice but to listen.
Win or lose, he would make the Sox interesting again. The most important part: He’s a damn good manager. And he has been humbled since his 2012 departure from the Miami Marlins, who still are sending him paychecks. The front-office friction would vanish.
The Sox will spend the second half of the season reminding us about all of the fun that 2005 club created 10 years ago.The memories will be stirred the rest of the summer.
Last place, though, is the last place from which you want to stage that party.
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisDeLuca.