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Rockin' Robin Returns

Posted 03-01-2012 at 05:10 AM by October26

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Every March, I watch baseball games being played in distant places like Florida and Arizona, knowing that soon baseball will be played on the south side of Chicago. This time of year you will find me feverishly scouring the Internet and newspapers for the latest information on all things White Sox. I recently saw the 2012 Sox Season Schedule advertised in the newspaper and smiled. I send e-mails and text messages to family and friends, and make plans to attend Sox games this coming season.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]I am also an avid gardener who finds as much joy in toiling the earth as I do in watching Sox baseball. After a dormant winter, nature comes alive in the Midwest in the most amazing ways. The birds are chirping, the crocuses are popping up through the still-frozen ground, and the buds on the trees are getting ready to burst open. There is much exhilaration in the air! This time of the year also finds me flipping through gardening magazines and seed catalogs and drawing detailed plans for my garden. In this magical season, my love of baseball and gardening are in perfect harmony, and I am busy preparing for both.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]Whenever I think about the upcoming Sox season, feelings of contentment blend with those of trepidation. I have been jittery since the day that Kenny Williams announced that Robin Ventura was the new Sox manager. To calm my nerves, I seek out the company of other Sox fans. I purchased a one-day pass and attended SoxFest, determined to personally welcome Robin back home. At SoxFest, I observed that Robin was greeted with standing ovations and thunderous applause everywhere he went. It was great to see the love and affection that Sox fans still have for Robin after all of these years. However, seeing this also heightened my anxiety. [/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]While sitting in the Seminar Room at Soxfest I shared my concerns with tebman, a friend and fellow WSIer. “I am afraid,” I said, “that Robin is putting his legacy at risk by taking the Sox manager job. Robin has no managerial experience. Will Sox fans reject Robin if things do not go well?” The voice of reason, tebman calmly replied: “Sure, I understand your fears. We all love Robin, he’s our guy. And we’re worried because he’s never managed before. But don't worry about Ventura. If he was willing to go after Nolan Ryan and laugh about it years later, he'll be fine when the Sox hit a rough patch.” [/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]I take tebman’s words to heart as I continue to wrestle with these persistent, nagging thoughts. I find writing to be therapeutic, so I decide to log Robin’s career milestones. As I do, I remember that:[/COLOR][/FONT] [LIST][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who came to the Sox with pedigree, having earned the Golden Spikes Award given annually to the best amateur (college) baseball player. The White Sox picked Robin tenth in the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who overcame a 0 – 41 slump in his rookie year (1990). He also made 25 errors that season.[/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who electrified Sox fans with a dramatic, grand slam home run in the bottom of the 9th to win a game in 1991. I can still see Frank Thomas lifting Robin into the air in a wild celebration at home plate. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who snapped during a game and charged the mound towards Nolan Ryan. Robin was fed up that Texas pitchers had been throwing at Sox hitters for years. Although Ryan got the better of the fight, Ventura stood up for himself and his teammates that day. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who suffered that horrific ankle injury on a slide at home plate in a spring training game in 1997. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who worked hard to rehab his ankle and leg in order to return and play for the Sox. And it was Robin who inspired me to call a sports radio show, the first and only time in all of my years as Sox fan that I have ever done so. With my heart pounding in my chest, I told Robin that I wished him a speedy recovery and could not wait to see him playing third base again for the Sox. “Thank you,” Robin replied, “I appreciate that very much.” [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin, with his patient and powerful left-handed swing, who hit at least 20 homers nine times in his career. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who was twice elected to the All-Star Game and was the recipient of 6 Gold Gloves. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who issued his famous: “I didn’t know the season ended on July 31st.” statement in response to the White Flag Trade in 1997. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who quietly saluted the fans, throwing his jersey into the stands after his last game in a Sox uniform in September 1998. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who Sox management refused to negotiate with in December 1998, ending his tenure with the Sox. Robin played with the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers before retiring at the end of the 2004 season. [/FONT][*][FONT=Verdana]It was Robin who proudly wore a White Sox uniform for 10 years. After his departure, Sox coach Joe Nossek wore his #23 as a tribute, until Nossek retired in 2004. [/FONT][/LIST][COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Some days, I still can’t believe it. But it's true: Rockin’ Robin is back! :bandance::wooty:And I can't wait to see him once again wearing his familiar #23. Of course, Robin has a different role now, that of being the Sox manager. And while Robin does not have any managerial experience, he does have a successful major league baseball career under his belt and has also faced his share of adversity along the way. His former managers and teammates have repeatedly stated that Robin was a leader on and off the field. The question now is whether Robin can leverage that experience into a successful managerial career.[/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Did you know that Robin's middle name is Mark? What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Well, it gives me an opportunity to digress and tell you that I am still quite distraught over the recent departure of another Mark (last name Buehrle) from the White Sox. I understand why Buehrle left (baseball is a business) but I sure will miss seeing him in a White Sox uniform. Robin's return gives me hope that one day Mark Buehrle will also return. Mark promised that he'll be back and I look forward to future opportunities to blog about his return. [/FONT][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]Getting back to Robin - i[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]n the days following the hiring, I was encouraged to read these words from the new Sox manager: "...I realize there are challenges. I think that's part of going through it. It's a tremendous job. It's hard. It's fun. It has all those things to it. Just because you don't jump at it at first doesn't mean you don't want to do it or you're not passionate about it…I don't want to just think I'm taking the job just to take it because it's offered. I want to do a good job and I want to have all those things that kind of go through that. I feel confident that I can do it. “ ~ Robin Ventura[/FONT][/COLOR]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]I understand that the White Sox are a team in transition. The terms rebuilding, restructuring, and retooling have all been used to describe their current plan. Some have proclaimed that Kenny is using Robin, a fan favorite, as a shield against criticism. As the season approaches, fans are uncertain about how the Sox will perform under their new manager. This season, I will once again watch or listen to almost every game. I expect to see the Sox play solid, fundamental baseball and I hope they have fun doing it. I realize there will be patches of turbulence along the way. I plan to enjoy the ride and weather the storms as best I can. [/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]I am a Sox fan for life.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][COLOR=black]One thing is certain: Robin is a risk taker and I admire him for that. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go,” wrote T.S. Eliot. Indeed, taking risks is part of living. We’ve all taken them. Robin is taking a calculated risk by returning to the Sox and accepting a job he is confident he can perform. If Robin believes he can manage, then that’s good enough for me. [B]Good Luck, Robin! You’re our guy, we believe in you, and we’re behind you one hundred percent.[/B] And who knows maybe one day soon I will once again be inspired to call into a sports radio talk show to speak with new White Sox Manager, Robin Ventura. Go Sox![/COLOR][/FONT]
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