Before Wednesday's game, it looked like the tension of all the White Sox' recent losing had reached a breaking point. Robin Ventura walked out on his media session due to an extended line of questions he didn't care to answer, which opened up a wide range of possibilities and/or jokes.
Especially since the first two tweets describing the scene weren't all that descriptive. David Schuster characterized the questions as "dopey," although he deleted the tweet. Bruce Levine's added more detail...
R Ventura cut short media session when second guessed about handling Miguel Gonzales and ifAvi Garcia takes fly balls .same guy asked both— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) June 15, 2016
... but it sounded like Ventura heard two questions and walked out, with one of those questions being the one a lot of Sox fans wanted asked.
It took about 45 minutes to start getting clarity, but Scott Merkin said that Ventura answered five questions about Garcia's defense, which ruined my theory about Rick Hahn wearing a fake mustache. Then I listened to the sequence myself, and if anything, Ventura gave the reporter way too much time. I assumed it was one question apiece about Garcia's preparation and Gonzalez's leash, but both initial inquiries led to the extended exchanges, with the reporter making suggestions about how Ventura should do his job. They weren't even good suggestions.
Daryl Van Schouwen and Colleen Kane provided some color of the incident.
Ventura brought his pregame media session to an abrupt end – for the first time in anyone’s memory — when a questioner asked a peculiar question about "coming out to settle down your starter just before that four-run outburst to say the thing that needs to be said."
"What’s that now?" Ventura replied, puzzled at the notion of somehow knowing beforehand that his pitcher was going to struggle. "Are you serious? Just get out of here. Jeez. Come on.’’
It reminded me of a SoxFest Q&A, except Ventura realized that he wasn't obligated to humor fans who paid to be there, so he left.
Meanwhile, in other media speculation, Jerry Reinsdorf shot down Bruce Levine's idea that the Sox might consider selling at the All-Star break:
As for the speculation in my story, Reinsdorf told me in his own instructive way that he had no plans for anything but a full-out attack on helping his front office find a way to win now. The meeting was brief and friendly. Knowing Reinsdorf for many years, I knew he was suggesting that although I wasn’t hurting anyone with my "panning for gold" speculation, rebooting and selling off wasn’t in the organization’s plans.
If we're talking about things that could make or break Ventura, the introduction of Tim Anderson ranks high on that list. Ventura isn't responsible for Anderson's success, but he's in charge of putting him in a position to succeed, sticking with him but not yanking him around, etc. It can be a tricky balance to strike.
For instance: After Anderson went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts and two double plays in the last two games of the Royals series, Ventura made the counterintuitive decision to move him from the ninth spot to the top of the order for the Tigers series.
Anderson responded by going 6-for-16 with a two doubles, a triple and four runs scored in a rare series victory. It's the kind of move that may have a shelf life if and when pitchers discover which areas of the zone Anderson struggles to cover, but the instinct to find him more action has so far proved justified.
(This post assumes Ventura won't be fired today. Given Hahn's warning that the revolution would not be telegraphed, I feel like even headlines like the one above could look foolish within hours.)
Update: And, of course, it's followed by the first legitimate hot seat report.
#InsideBaseball teaser: @JonHeyman says middle-of-the-road Robin Ventura is on the hot seat for the #WhiteSox - https://t.co/Gvn2txvd1s— Today's Knuckleball (@KnuckleballFRS) June 16, 2016