In case you have been hiding under a rock the last few days, Robin Ventura was appointed as the next Manager of the White Sox. We all have opinions on this hiring, some (like mine) more positive than others. However, we really have no clue on what his strategy will be. We have heard that he is receptive to sabermetrics, but also that he is an old school guy. Shawn Green, who had a pretty impressive career in his own right, tweeted that of any former teammate he had ever had, Ventura would be his pick for manager. The Score's Laurence Holmes had a nice interview with Darrin Jackson about Robin and his thoughts on what went wrong in 2011 (Scroll down to hour 2 of the 10/6 show).
What do we know about Robin? He was a very good ballplayer that spent time in the three biggest markets in the country and was well liked in all three. After his playing career he took some family time and was only recently brought back into the organization as an assistant to Buddy Bell. He, along with Ryne Sandberg and Michael Jordan made the number 23 pretty popular in Chicago during the 90's. He also wasn't afraid to mix it up with Hall of Famers Frank Thomas and Nolan Ryan.
Robin was drafted 10th overall by the White Sox in the 1988 draft. He was one of four first round picks (Jack McDowell, Frank Thomas and Alex Fernandez being the others) that led the Sox to prominence starting as early as 1990. He didn't spend much time in the minor leagues, appearing in just 129 games before getting the call up at the end of 1989. Ventura was given the starting third basemen role in the final season at Old Comiskey park, and struggled with the bat as he hit .249/.324/.318 with 5 homers and 54 runs bated in.
* A first year MLB 3rd basemen who hit .250 with a good glove and not a lot of power? Sounds kind of familiar. Brent Morel will benefit from this move quite a bit.
Ventura went on to become one of the better hitters in Sox history after that tough rookie campaign. He averaged just over 23 home runs and 93 RBI's over the next 6 seasons, with his high water mark of 34 and 105 in 1996. He also earned 4 gold gloves and an All Star appearance (1992) over those 6 seasons.
* It was in that time where Robin Ventura became the favorite of many Sox fans. I know a lot of people who liked him more than Frank Thomas, very similar to a lot of Bulls fans that liked Scottie Pippen more than Jordan.
The 1997 season looked like it was going to be a special one. The Sox signed Albert Belle to team with Thomas, Ventura and Harold Baines in what looked on paper to be one of the best offenses in team history. Unfortunately, Ventura never made it out of the gate. A disgusting injury, broken and dislocated ankle, put his season in jeopardy. Robin returned to the club much ahead of schedule on July 24th. Days later the "White Flag" was raised and the Sox dumped Harold Baines, Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez. The Sox finished 6 games back of Cleveland after the trade and after Jerry Reinsdorf claimed "anybody who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy".
* I am sure Ventura wasn't too happy about that. He busted his ass to come back while the Sox were in contention, only to see them deal two of their best pitchers and Baines within a week.
Ventura played one more season with the Sox, hitting his usual 21 homers and 91 RBI's before leaving as a free agent. He was victim of a team that signed Belle and Jamie Navarro and didn't have money to go around to an aging fan favorite. That sounds familiar too, as we may have seen Mark Buehrle's last White Sox start because of the money owed to Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Alex Rios.
Ventura signed with the Mets, and after a great first season where he hit .301/.379/.529 with 32 homers and 120 RBI's, saw his stats slowly start to dwindle. He became a part time player with the Yankees and Dodgers until his career ended after 2004 with a line of .267/.362/.444 with 294 homers and 1,182 RBI's.
The thing I will remember about Ventura, other than the Nolan Ryan incident and his gruesome injury was just how unbelievable he was charging bunts/swinging bunts. It was a thing of beauty the way he charged, barehanded, fired and fell to the ground to get the out.
Most of you guys are somewhere around my age, what are your favorite Ventura moments?