Everybody has seen Robin Ventura charge the mound against Nolan Ryan. Everybody knows it doesn't go as well as he would have hoped.
But there's another good story about a vengeful Ventura that's worth mentioning, and one I haven't seen mentioned since he took over as manager.
I found it while looking up articles about Ventura's comeback from his gruesome ankle injury in 1997 for White Sox Outsider 2012, among a few other pleasant reads (I didn't know that Ibis Guillen had a plane fly over Comiskey Park with a congratulatory streamer during his first game back, for instance).
Ventura didn't care for the White Flag Trade, since it took place a week after he'd returned to the lineup. And, by all accounts, he busted his ass to get back into the lineup. He especially did not care for Jerry Reinsdorf's infamous "crazy" quote.
So he decided to do something about it.
In an article titled "Fire sale, ankle pain Ventura" in the Chicago Sun-Times on Aug. 26, 1997, Joe Goddard writes (emphasis mine):
Ventura tried to counter ownership's moves last week by having T-shirts prepared for his remaining teammates that read "Chicago Leftovers" on one side and "Maybe We're Just Dumb Enough to Win This" on the other. [...]
Ventura was particularly puzzled when chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made his now infamous remark that people would have to be "crazy" to think the team at the time was capable of catching the Indians.
"To me, it was unacceptable," Ventura said. "It doesn't matter what context he said it in, it was still unacceptable."
Thus, the T-shirts.
"I'm trying to make something positive out of something negative," said Ventura , who's batting .308 with 12 RBI in 27 games since his return. "The whole thing was so negative at the time. The media is still negative about it.
"That's why I thought something different would help. Right now, it's working. We're almost as close as we were when we made the trades (third place, 4 1/2 games behind)."
Obviously, it didn't work. But reading it was heartening, because Ozzie Guillen's tendency to talk up opponents -- team or individuals -- never really seemed to benefit the White Sox. Which is why I laughed when I saw that Ron Gardenhire said he's going to miss Guillen in the AL Central.
It's still unclear what Ventura can bring to the table as the manager, but if he can bottle up the inspiration behind mound-charging and the indignation behind the "Chicago Leftovers" t-shirt, he'll have addressed Guillen's biggest flaw as a leader. It will be far tougher to replicate what Guillen did well, but this would be a nice first step.
Robin Ventura and Texas
When Opening Day rolls around, the Texas Rangers will have played a role in four huge moments of Ventura's career:
- Charging the mound against Ryan on Aug. 4, 1993.
- His two-grand-slam game on Sept. 4, 1995.
- Driving in the winning run with a double in his first game back from his ankle injury on July 24, 1997.
- Managing his first game on April 6, 2012.