Former Cubs skipper Mike Quade has some advice for new Sox manager Robin Ventura
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org February 2, 2012 9:06PM
The Chicago White Sox held a news conference to introduce Robin Ventura as the club’s 39th manager. Robin Ventura and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf met the press. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun~Times
Updated: March 4, 2012 8:20AM
Mike Quade, fired with a year left on his contract after his first full year on the job with the Cubs in 2011, has some words of advice for Robin Ventura, who walks into a similar situation as a rookie manager in Chicago in 2012. It’s the same thing Lou Piniella told him when he replaced Piniella.
“When Lou left, he came into the office and said, ‘The media, Mike.” Chicago isn’t known as a cut-throat media town, but its media muscle comes in numbers.
Piniella had no other concerns for Quade. “You’ll handle the rest of it,’’ he said.
But those newspaper, website, radio and TV guys … Ventura knows the drill from his playing days. In 2012, the media mob is bigger and its quick-strike capability is stronger because of the internet and social media.
“Inherently, you know that,’’ Quade said, “but no truer words [from Piniella] were ever spoken. Robin had a playing career in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. He did them all. While it’s different managing, now you’re in charge of your performance and 25 guys. The workload goes up, but Chicago is different than a lot of cities because of the sheer volume of media. But he has a leg up because as a player he has dealt with you guys a lot. I don’t know how he handled stuff as player but that’s obviously one of the challenges in Chicago. What I know of him, he’s been there, done that.’’
There’s a big difference for managers, who meet with media before and after every game. Players can go days without being interviewed. Ventura might not enjoy it as much as the talkative Ozzie Guillen, who thrived on having a daily audience.
“It’s a grind and it consumes you,’’ Quade said. “As prepared as I was, it still surprised me how much time [the job] consumed, not just time with people but stuff you mull over — whether it’s criticism or obligations with this beat writer or that beat writer or TV station, charity events … it’s on your mind a lot.”
Therein lies the value of pitching coach Don Cooper, rookie bench coach Mark Parent and the rest of Ventura’s staff. While Quade brought 17 years of minor-league managing to the job, Ventura was a major-league All-Star who hasn’t managed or coached a game in his life. At any level.
“If Robin doesn’t know it already, he’ll find out how important his coaching staff is,’’ Quade said. “At the minor-league and major-league level, you know how important your coaching staff is, but in a big market it becomes absolutely huge.’’
Quade’s years managing in the minors prepared him for just about every game situation he encountered in the Cubs dugout.
“It was huge,’’ he said.
Ventura is smart enough and baseball savvy enough to know when to hit-and-run, but there will learning on the job.
“They say baseball is a slow game,’’ Quade said. “It sure doesn’t seem that way when you’re in the dugout. You think you have it figured out, but things come up quick. But he knows the game cold. That said, his bench coach becomes huge and his staff in general.’’
While it grated on some in the baseball industry that Mike Matheny (Cardinals) and Ventura were hired without managing experience ahead of the other Mike Quades out there, Quade declined to pile on.
“Who said anything about fair?” he said.
“It’s wonderful to look at experience. I don’t know Robin’s baseball acumen, but I bet it’s damn good. His personal relationships with players in the past, all that comes into play, and maybe he is the guy.’’
Few sit in the manager’s chair their first year and say they knew what they were in for.
“Tell him good luck and to call me when the year is over,” Quade said with a laugh.