Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 7:50 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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KANSAS CITY With the Chicago White Sox finally eliminated, the reality sunk in for manager Ozzie Guillen, whose combination of head cold and depression over losing out on the playoffs stringing his pregame sessions longer and longer.
This is a hard moment, especially when your expectation was to win the division and fight all the way through it, he said. Mentally, you have to overcome whatever it is to finish strong. Me? I have a passion and love for the game. Every game to me, I dont want to say I treat the same, but I take the same approach. Im not going to change anything for whatever reason; after opening day, there are 161 to go. Same thing here.
The White Sox are measurably worse this year than a year ago, when on Sept. 16 they were 79-67 and still had a faint flicker of life in the division race. Of course, a year ago marked the finish of sweep in Chicago at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, who would go on to win the division by six games over the White Sox. The Twins wouldnt clinch over Chicago until Sept. 20.
We get paid to deal with this thing the right way and the best way we can, Guillen said. No matter the excuses, you have to perform the right way. Obviously, the drive maybe is not there. But as soon as the game starts everybody has to go about their business.
For a manager who claims to rarely take games home with him, Guillen admits to being struck by the swift elimination of the White Sox this season.
I just talked to my wife about how very tough it is to go through it everything goes through your mind, like Wow, what did we do wrong? I put a lot of questions to myself, and the front office people and players do the same stuff: What could have been better? But at 7:05 or 7:10 game time, you have to play the game right. Thats what I expect from the players; I dont care if they have the desire or not. When the national anthem is over, they should be prepared to play, and play to win.
While all players cope in different ways with losses and elimination, the customarily quiet White Sox clubhouse remained no more so before Fridays game.
It should hit everyone: Im done. Its over with., Guillen said. How do you prepare yourself for the next day? Do you want to come back to the ballpark tomorrow? We play for pride, to win, finish off strong, but when its over, its over. When the referee counts 10, you cant get up anymore, its done. Throw in the towel, take a shower, and go home.
But as Guillen points out, baseball is not a 12-round prize fight.
This is baseball unfortunately we have to play another 10-12 days, he said, calling himself 'the loser.' I wish I could keep my quotes and remember how excited I was in spring training: Look at this ballclub, wow. Look at me now, what am I talking about? Second place, third place, wow.
A guy with less love for the game, Guillen said, wouldnt go through such suffering.
If I dont have the passion and love for this organization, for baseball, bro, Id pick up my stuff and go, Guillen said. What dont I have in baseball, a Silver Slugger? Everything else, I have: Playoff experience, coaching experience, manager experience, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, a lot of stuff, championships, everything.
Thus for Guillen, without winning, theres nothing.
Theres nothing better than winning, I dont care what people say, he said. Winning is the best thing. The accomplishment of what you went through, you dont care if the owner was mad at you in April, if you had a confrontation with a player, people dont care what I say in the paper, its all beautiful. When you lose, all the stuff comes out, boom boom. This guys fault, that guys fault, blame this guy and that guy. At the end of the day were all here together, were all pulling on the same rope.
And Guillen finished his thoughts on this lost season again by defending those who put this team together and paid the bills.
If you want to blame somebody, dont blame the man, Guillen said. Blame me, because we didnt do what we were supposed to do. A lot of people are going to say Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, we only have two guys win 10 games but as a team, you have to blame all the Chicago White Sox. The players, coaches, were the only ones who can control winning. We didnt do that, we didnt do the job. We failed once again.
"A lot of people think Don Cooper is an unbelievable f------ pitching coach but nobody has won 15 games yet. Everybody thinks Im the greatest manager in the g----- game, but I only won once. Its about what you win, what you can do, what you bring to the table We just didnt perform the way we thought we were going to perform. Whoever was here for 162 games and whoever wrote the lineup, blame them. Dont blame Jerry or Kenny, or anybody else. They did a good job putting this team together. Whoever was wearing this uniform failed.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.