Way back in May, the White Sox were amidst a semi-average stretch of baseball and sitting at 14-15, just a game below the elusive .500 mark that at the time seemed reachable and maybe, for some, even sustainable.
While the Sox sat at 14-15, manager Ricky Renteria was giving a pre-game interview as he normally does. What happened next was a not-so-normal response from a major league manager. During the interview, a reporter mentioned the White Sox record of 14-15. Upon hearing that his White Sox were sitting just a game below .500, Renteria responded with, “Wow. I did not know that.”
Okay, so maybe there was an off chance he knew a ballpark estimate of where they stood but just didn’t know the exact record. Managers tend to have a lot going through their minds in a pre-game interview, so if you want to give Renteria the benefit of the doubt on this one based off context, well, keep reading. Ricky doubled down on his comment about not looking at the team’s record, and it is detailed extremely well in Scott Merkin’s article for MLB.com titled ‘Rick Renteria pays no attention to White Sox record.’
Here is an interesting quote from Ricky during this exchange that Merkin included in the above article:
“You don’t need to look at those numbers to know if you’re swinging the bat well, if you’re seeing the ball well. Is that going to change the way you do things? Your approach is your approach, and the way you play the game is the way you play the game, so I don’t need to look at the freaking numbers.”
Okay, we get it, Rick, you’re not looking at the freaking numbers, because they seemingly don’t mean anything to the team this year. Interesting, maybe a tad unconventional, but okay because well, the White Sox were never designed to compete in 2019, right?
That would seemingly be the case for a team that trotted out Ervin Santana, Ross Detwiler, Dylan Covey, Manny Banuelos, and Odrisamer Despaigne because absolutely no other options were available. A team that utilized Yonder Alonso, Welington Castillo, AJ Reed, and even Jose Rondon in a DH spot that has seen less production than some NL teams’ pitchers while at the plate. 2019 was never a year in which this team was designed to compete.
Fast forward to September 10th, 2019, and Renteria is once again giving a pregame interview when this slips out…
Hold up… let’s break this down.
The White Sox set a goal at the beginning of the year to have at least as many wins as they do losses. That means average or better. A winning record for the first time since 2012 was the goal for this team.
First, let’s talk about goals.
Goals are great. Goals help guide you toward achieving what needs to be accomplished in order to be successful. The pure definition in the Merriam Webster Dictionary in this sense of the word is “the end toward which effort is directed.“
Every successful person, organization, and team needs to have a goal in order to measure success. Just look across Chicago at the Blackhawks, an organization that built its entire marketing campaign around the term ONE GOAL. ONE GOAL means “win the Stanley Cup every year or the year is not successful.” Even if you are not a Blackhawks or hockey fan, just watch this short clip from their 2016-2017 season.
A few things stick out here, but the most important message is that the organization gets it. They understand why they are there. They are there to win, and they are there to win for the fans and the city of Chicago. The commercial itself sets a tone and an expectation. A goal.
Think of the goal as a measuring stick for success. Without a goal, what is the point of even showing up? If the goal isn’t reached, an organization or individual takes time to account for what went wrong, and sacrifices or drastic changes often need to be made in order to achieve what one sets out to accomplish. Either way, there are repercussions.
Now, let’s get into Renteria’s statements from both May and September. If the White Sox had actually met prior to the season and stated the goal for this year was to be .500 or better, wouldn’t the manager of the team be held at least somewhat responsible for attempting to guide the organization to the desired outcome? Why would someone who knows exactly what the goal of the team is not pay attention to the exact thing that measures if the team he is leading will accomplish said goal? The only plausible answer that comes to mind is that whether or not the goal is reached, there will be no repercussions for failure. That my friends, is a
scary terrifying proposition.
Imagine for a second that a superior at your workplace gives you a directive, however instead of fearing what may happen if you are unable to complete the task, you are told “If this doesn’t get done, don’t worry about it.” How likely are you to do what it takes to accomplish the directive knowing there is no consequence?
By stating the goal for this season was to be .500 or better, yet declaring “I don’t need to look at the freaking numbers” is a giant red flag for a plethora of reasons. Not only does it contradict what was so adamantly stated before, it never needed to be brought into the public eye that that the White Sox had seemingly failed to live up to their very own pre-season expectations.
This problem unfortunately reaches higher than Renteria and into the very culture of the organization. If the White Sox organization truly had its sights on .500 or better this season, where was the roster help added from the front office from the get-go? Was there really an expectation of a 19-game improvement over last season’s 62-100 record solely propelled by expectations of improvement from Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, and adding Eloy Jimenez into the mix?
News flash: Yoan Moncada has had a breakout season and looks like a perennial All-Star, Tim Anderson is fighting for the batting title, and Lucas Giolito‘s name has been floated in Cy Young discussions at various points throughout the season after being the worst pitcher in the league just last year. Jose Abreu leads the league in RBIs. Eloy Jimenez has hit 25 homers and could quite possibly hit 30 by years end. Almost EVERYTHING that could have gone right for this young core to improve the White Sox record this year has panned out, and almost in grander fashion than one could have expected. Yet the White Sox will still likely finish the 2019 season ten games or more below the .500 mark.
If the goal for 2019 was .500 or better (a winning product), fans deserve answers as to why the organization failed to reach their goal, just as a shareholder in a business would deserve an answer as to why a company’s performance is below expectations. As shown in the Blackhawks One Goal campaign video above, it’s important to understand who you are playing the game for because those are the ones who deserve the answers.
This brings us back to the terrifying proposition mentioned earlier. If Rick Renteria is not held accountable for his failure to reach the goal, why would Rick Hahn be held to any different standards? If the goal of .500 wasn’t reached this year and no one claims responsibility for the failure, how can a fan of the team buy into the ultimate goal of this team competing for a World Series? If the smaller stepping stone goals along the way are met with failure and smoothed over with silver linings, such as almost making the AAA playoffs, seats at a table, and carpentry metaphors, why should anyone be convinced the White Sox organization is committed to delivering a winning product?
In a day and age where success in professional sports is measured in numbers and job security is all about “what have you done for me lately” (see Dave Dombrowski), it’s time for the White Sox to figure out what exactly is the goal here.
Featured Photo: USA TODAY