NASHVILLE, Tenn -- When Robin Ventura became the manager of the Chicago White Sox without any managing or even coaching experience in baseball, he received some advice from a man who managed 3,040 major league games in his legendary career.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda.
Before the season, I told him, Take a picture now, Lasorda said. "Then I want to take a picture of you when the season is over, and its going to be a big difference. If you dont win its a big difference.
For most of the season, Ventura and the White Sox did win. They were in first place until September 25th. That might have helped Venturas mental health, as well as the hair on the top of his head.
I still have it, so Im alright, Ventura said Tuesday.
But when the White Sox proceeded to lose 11 of their last 15 games, and missed the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion, any normal manager would be an emotional wreck, fraught with grief and inner turmoil.
Just ask Lasorda.
When I was a manager, I would walk the streets until 3 o'clock in the morning, Lasorda said. A lot of times I wouldnt take the bus after we lost afraid I would attack some of those players. But here I am walking the streets at 3 oclock in the morning and theyre out dancing somewhere. That doesnt go together.
Name the experience as a manager, Torre has likely seen it, and felt it.
What the White Sox experienced late in the year was devastating, Torre said. Ive seen clubs go through it. I was lucky in 2000 because we lost 15 of the last 18 and won the World Series. Ventura got eeked out by the Detroit club that struggled all year long. But Robin I thought did a good job with anything that went on. Hes going to use what he felt surprised him and use that to his advantage because hes not going to bemoan the fact that this didnt happen. Hes going to learn from it.
On the outside, Ventura remained calm and cool during last seasons collapse. But what was happening on the inside? Safe to say it was devastating to Ventura?
I guess you could say that, Ventura revealed in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. But its not something you cant come back from. Its disappointing because you work so hard to put yourself in the position to win the division and it doesnt happen. But in sports, nothing is guaranteed. Again, you prepare and get ready again and gear up and go after it again.
Hidden behind Venturas relaxed demeanor is a fiery competitor who wants to win as much as every manager in the game--a temper that was on display when he was actually ejected from games last season.
I was happy to see him get mad a number of times, Torre said with a smile. You say, Look how cool and relaxed he is. I was that guy at one time.
Thats a part of the job, Ventura explained. Anytime youre competing, things are hot and heavy. It happens. Thats a part of the passion of the game and what you do as a player and as a manager. It happens. It will probably happen again.
So after completing his first season as manager of the White Sox, is there one specific area with his team hed like to improve?
Yeah, Ventura said. Id like to get 10 more wins in September.