I just read this headline and it took me somewhat aback:
Sox choice of Robin Ventura is smart, innovative
Now, let me say that I have no idea who wrote that headline. It's atop Scott Miller's column, which includes this passage:
Leave it to the Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams to zig when everyone else thinks they'll zag, to take the path through the woods when everyone else is looking at the paved roads.
The White Sox picked a manager Thursday straight out of left field, a guy who has never been in a major-league dugout as a skipper or as a coach.
But you know what? Because Robin Ventura was in the dugout for 2,079 games as a player, and because of who he is, the choice is perfect.
Can he manage? We'll find out.
Nowhere in Miller's article does the word "smart" appear. I mean, you might make a connection between "smart" and "the choice is perfect" ... but I think the necessity of making a connection leaves Miller just a bit of wiggle room.
Which I think he needs, because whatever you care to say about the hiring of Robin Ventura, there's very little evidence at hand to suggest it's smart.
It might someday be seen as smart. Brilliant, even. But there is absolutely no way in holy hell that anyone can know, today, that hiring a guy who has never coached or managed at any level of professional baseball is smart.
Well, except there is this:
If Tim Brown were just making this up, I would suggest he's got a real career in comedy writing if this baseball thing should peter out. But I'm pretty sure he's serious.
Look, I don't doubt that Ventura has a great feel for the game. I suspect that a fair number of professional baseball players do. Can he handle the day-to-day grind of managing, with everything that entails? Can he manage 25 men for six months, many of them millionaires and few of them far past the emotional state of a petulant adolescent? Can he run a bullpen without abusing their arms and killing his starting pitchers' ERAs? Can he deal with all those annoying questions from the know-it-all writers, day after day after fershlugginer day?
Nobody can possibly know the answer to any of these questions yet. Not Kenny Williams, not Scott Miller, not Rob Neyer, not even Robin Ventura.
Innovate? Yes. Smart? All we know is that it's somewhere between incredibly brilliant and ridiculously foolish. Arguing much else is just a wild-ass guess.