Sports gloating–taking a moment to revel in the misery or incompetence of another team and the related suffering of its fanbase–is not a particularly logical act. As we all know by now, misfortune is just around the corner at all times in sports, and anything we dish out can be expected to return fired at our heads at twice the speed.
But this is also part of the point of watching and enjoying sports: the reckless emotional investment. A life spent measuring the potential consequences of every action is a life wasted, and the immediate visceral thrills that sports offer is a lot of the appeal, or maybe all of it, since watching a roster slowly come together over the years and constantly assessing your favorite franchise’s unremarkable standing in the world might only appeal to people who enjoy playing Sim City at regular speed the whole time.
Still, there’s something particularly short-sighted about White Sox fans mocking the long, winding path the Cubs took to announcing Rick Renteria as their new manager on Thursday. They publicly pined for Joe Girardi, only to be used as leverage for a raise by the object of their desire. They may or may not have been dragged through another episode of their Cold War with Boston while trying to contact Torey Lovullo, and interviewing Brad Ausmus, only for Ausmus to accept the job in Detroit while they were still contemplating what to do, didn’t help matters.
They could use some more discretion, but that lack of discretion just laid bare a common process. They pursued the limited supply of managerial candidates, and because they were not blessed with infinite fortune, they lost out on some, and because managers do not appear fully formed from the heavens perfectly crafted for a specific team, they took some time talking their entire leadership group into Renteria.
The White Sox did not go through this when they hired Robin Ventura in 2011, if you’ll recall, because the White Sox hiring process was crazy.
Whatever your opinion of Robin Ventura and the job he’s done, Kenny Williams hiring a guy with no direct coaching experience, who had no idea he was going to be offered the job until the interview–which he didn’t realize was an interview, and turned out to be the only interview that was given to anyone–is the type of hiring process that puts all of its checks and balances in the hands of a single decider assessing the quality of a single candidate without a control, which is the say that it eliminates them entirely.
The White Sox didn’t lose out on any of their candidates, because they weren’t competing with anyone. If the Cubs were a lonely bachelor striking out at the bar, the Sox were Pygmalion, carving out their own object of affection in the seclusion of their home.
And about your opinion of Robin Ventura; if the accounts players have made public to the media are to be trusted, then the leadership qualities that so excited Williams two years ago are indeed present, but don’t change the part where they hired a guy without coaching experience to be their top coach.
He’s been feeling out his approach over the course of two seasons, and optimistically I would imagine that if he managed 10 years, his final season would make the over-tinkering of 2012 and the slagging of bullpen arms in 2013, or ‘Kevin Youkilis Squares Up For a Friggin’ Bunt’ look like amateurish turns in his learning process, but it’s also the inevitable fallout of trying the play amateur alchemist at home. No one has declared ‘browbeat high makeup former stars into taking the job” as the new market inefficiency.
If anything, this episode in White Sox history should provide a guide to how one should mock the Cubs (you know, if that’s your thing, not trying to race to conclusions here). You don’t mock a team for struggling with the hurdles and hard work that everyone has to go through, you mock them when they act extremely confident in something and go out on a limb because, only to have that limb snap and plunge them into doom. Part of the Cubs ‘rebuilding the right way’ campaign has included the ever-so-chic act of handing out lengthy contract extensions to pre-arbitration players, presuming that these players are can’t-miss stars in the making and that they are saving money by offering them financial security now.
Don’t act now, because neither Anthony Rizzo nor Starlin Castro are even 25 years old yet, but if you’re looking for an angle, $91 million committed through 2019 could be your angle. Of course, be prepared to be hit right back with whatever nonsense the White Sox are involved in at the time, but at least–unlike the case of acting like the Cubs managerial search process was shameful–you’ll be annoyingly right.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan