White Sox

Fifteen years later, White Sox manager Robin Ventura recalls 9/11 events

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Fifteen years later, White Sox manager Robin Ventura recalls 9/11 events

It’s been 15 years since the tragic events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.

For manager Robin Ventura, it’s still hard to think about.

“I think every time I start thinking about it it’s tough,” Ventura said. “Bagpipes are a whole different deal. You get emotional every time you hear them because that’s pretty much all we heard through September through the end of the year and that’s really the thought that comes up thinking about the first game back in New York. When the bagpipes came through center field, it was a tough moment for everybody.”

Ventura, who was with the New York Mets at the time, was in Pittsburgh during the events. The Mets were scheduled to open a three-game series against the Pirates.

Ventura recalls waking up for a Players Association meeting that morning.

“I remember getting up and having some coffee and then you just see what’s unfolding on TV and you can’t believe it,” Ventura said. “You just can’t believe what your eyes are seeing. The next day we had a bus back and we got to Shea. Shea was used as a staging area for all the supplies going in to Manhattan. It was right there in front of us. It was amazing just the cooperation and the teamwork of everybody and all the firefighters coming from all over to help out. Just incredible. It still just gets to you, it really does.”

Baseball was put on hold for the next few days.

Play resumed six days later, where the Mets completed their three-game series with the Pirates in Pittsburgh and then traveled back home.

The Mets held the first sporting event in New York since the attacks on Sept. 21 at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves.

"It was tough because even when we were working out, before we went to Pittsburgh to start playing again, you just have firefighters…they had cots and things where guys are sleeping on shifts," Ventura said. "For us working out, these guys started going out and doing stuff on the field…taking batting practice taking ground balls. It wasn’t really about us anymore working out again, it was just whatever these guys wanted to do you let him do. Bobby Valentine did a great job of just organizing guys to pack boxes and do whatever you could."

When the White Sox returned to action, they hosted the New York Yankees at Comiskey Park.

After an emotional week, sports helped bring a little bit of normalcy back to the country.

“When we played our game at Shea, you didn’t know if you should smile, crack a joke or do any of that. And it was still tough to do that,” Ventura said. “There’s a lot of families that were there that had lost somebody. Kids had lost their dads. You didn’t necessarily know what to do.

“I think at that time at least sports let people cheer and distract them somewhat from the pain that was going on at the time. Nobody really knew how powerful that would be. I know everyone’s probably seen the home run (Mike) Piazza hit. It’s hard to just say how important that was but it really was. It was just kind of the defining moment of people could cheer people could hug each other and laugh and root for their team again.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”