What Exactly Does Robin Ventura Do Around Here Anyway?
While The War of LaRoches isn't as violent as it was a couple of days ago, as the flames turn to embers, I can't help but look in the fire and see the end of Robin Ventura as White Sox manager.
There's been a whole lot of stupid during this entire saga, and it's come from all different angles. From Adam LaRoche, to his teammates, to Kenny Williams, to the media covering the story. Just about everybody has played their role in this confederacy of dunces, but the name that has been absent in all of it is the name of the man who is supposedly in charge of the clubhouse that appears so fractured.
What exactly is it you do around here, Robin?
Admittedly, I've never been a fan of Ventura as manager, and I've made no secret of it. It's just, until this week, my problems with Ventura revolved around actual baseball activities. I didn't enjoy the way his team faded down the stretch in 2012, and while I'm not pinning the blame for that solely on him, his inability to stem the bleeding then was surely a missed omen considering what we see now.
I also didn't like how unprepared his teams looked much of the last three seasons. He didn't have magnificent rosters to work with, but he couldn't get much of anything out of what he had, instead providing us with plenty of amateur mistakes from his players he seemed incapable of correcting.
Oh wait, I'm sorry, that was all Mark Parent's fault. That's why he was let go after last season.
Now there's the situation with this other parent, Adam LaRoche.
Let's try to look at the whole situation here. Obviously, even if they aren't speaking publicly, there were plenty of players in the clubhouse who weren't exactly down with the idea of the teenager taking groundballs with the team every day, and hanging out in their locker room. Guests are fine, but the thing about guests is they leave eventually.
Now, did these players go to their fearless leader? You're damn right they did. They walked right past Robin Ventura and went to Kenny Williams. Kenny being Kenny, he did the kind of thing that Kenny does. He addressed the issue, and when he saw that he hadn't been heard, he spoke to LaRoche in words that would not be misconstrued.
Then LaRoche retired.
Then the players revolted.
Revolts are fine, every big league clubhouse is going to have its skirmishes, but the key is that they end.
After Chris Sale dropped a bunch of f-bombs on Kenny Williams that should have been the end of it. That's when Robin Ventura should have gathered his team and made it clear the issue was over. Don't go bitching about it to the media, and don't make a bigger deal out of it than it is.
But he didn't.
Then, the next thing you know, Chris Sale is hanging jerseys in his locker and holding court with the media, saying that it should have been Kenny Williams who hit the bricks, not LaRoche.
Surely after that embarrassing episode Ventura would see the error of his ways and let the team know it was enough. Let it the fuck go, and do your fucking job.
The next morning Adam Eaton is going on the radio calling Drake LaRoche a team leader! That actually happened. Eaton said a kid who was 13-years old was a team leader last season, and it makes a lot of sense in hindsight, because anybody who watched the Sox last year knew it was a Little League team they were dealing with.
How does a 13-year old kid become a leader? Well, it helps when the manager isn't one. It appears there was a leadership vacuum, and say what you want about how Adam LaRoche raises his kids, at least he taught his son how to take advantage of an opportunity.
Hell, had Kenny Williams not laid down the law, Drake LaRoche may have been your White Sox manager by July. We all might have been better off with him too.
But Kenny did drive LaRoche out of town, and we're still here, stuck with a manager who seems to be confused about roles.
It's the kids who are meant to be seen but not heard, Robin. Not the god damn manager.
I'm sure when Jerry Reinsdorf met with his players to talk all of this out, the key message behind his words was "do your job." If only he'd deliver the same message to his manager.
This LaRoche insanity will fade over the coming days and weeks, but no matter what happens, Robin Ventura will still be managing this team on Opening Day.
That's a far bigger problem for the Chicago White Sox then the absence of Drake LaRoche could ever be.