White Sox GM Ken Williams would love to just start this season over again
He strides purposefully, usually sporting a fine suit, with a cup of coffee in his hand and a pair of shades covering his eyes.
He’s eloquent, well spoken and makes it clear every time he opens his mouth that he has a plan for the White Sox’s future in mind.
Ken Williams fits the mold of a general manager to a “T” in that regard.
That’s before the game.
During? Well, that’s another matter.
Williams shows the intense passion that comes with being a former major leaguer -- and a college football player, for that matter -- when he slams his hand on tables, yells from afar and paces around his skybox while watching helplessly as the team he assembled plays it out on the field.
It’s not an easy balance, but on the same day he announced a four-year extension for manager Ozzie Guillen, the GM took a few minutes to discuss, among other things, how hard it is to reconcile the suit-wearing and the fist-slamming parts of his life.
Is the job everything you thought it would be?
In what way?
You just can’t prepare for all the things that come your way sitting in the chair. But I feel good about all the things that I’ve learned along the way and good enough to where I think we might just be able to go ahead and win another championship before all is said and done.
What’s the thing that you’ve been most surprised about sitting in the chair?
This ballclub right here. I honestly have never seen a team as a whole struggle with this much talent for this long.
What bothers you the most about the job?
I’ve never grown comfortable with the media demands. I’m more of a, I’ve always considered myself more of a behind the scenes, reserved type person. I’d much rather Ozzie be the voice of the franchise, but I understand that’s part of the gig.
So, that leads to the question: Is the media a necessary evil?
I wouldn’t say ‘evil’ because I don’t think about it that way. Everybody’s got a job to do, and I think we’re all very fortunate to be in this game for a living. I don’t take it for granted at all. Just my personality is, I like to have fun and laugh a little bit and everything -- it’s taken me a long time to get comfortable.
What do you do on an offday?
Is there such thing as an offday?
That’s the first thought that came to my mind when you said offday. There’s always something to do. There are no complete offdays. Since Feb. 15 (when pitchers and catchers reported to Tucson, Ariz., for camp), there has not been one day that has been a ‘free day.’ Maybe the day after the All-Star Game. The day after the All-Star Game.
Day off, Mark Buehrle had just re-signed, that makes sense.
Yeah, the day after the All-Star Game.
So what did you do on that day?
I don’t even remember. Travel day.
When the phone rings, how many times do you think, ‘Now what?’ before answering?
A lot. A lot. Whether it be from Ozzie or (trainer) Herm Schneider calling, yeah, a lot. A lot. I even get calls from the national TV people or my friends from other teams asking me, ‘What the heck’s going on over there? What happened?’
Are there ever times when you just don’t answer?
I’ve learned to try to get myself a little more time away from the phone, whereas probably for the first five years in the position I had it on my hip whether I was working out or from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Now I’ll walk away from it and give myself a little bit of a break.
Can you watch and enjoy a game without thinking about your job?
Watch and enjoy a game? Oh, no. Oh, no. I haven’t enjoyed a game since I took off the uniform.
Yeah. All the rest have been just agonizing. Well, because I care about these guys. I care about winning, but I care about each individual. So, each swing that our hitters are taking, I’m there with them; each pitch that our pitchers are throwing, I’m right there pulling for them. So, emotionally at the end of the day I’m exhausted. I watch the game of baseball like I watch football so, over the course of the season, after 162 of those, you are wiped out.
Are there ever games where you see kids playing, or pickup games, where you decide just to stop and watch?
No. The sad thing is that when I watch a youth game, even with my kids who are younger, I’m scouting. That’s sad. That’s a sickness.
Or dedication to your job.
No, that’s not a dedication to the job. That’s a sickness.
All right. Describe your perfect day.
Perfect day? Wow. Is there such a thing as a perfect day? Right now, right now, right now that perfect day would be turning back the clock to April 1, Opening Day. Let’s do this all over again and see how it works.
If you weren’t the GM, what would you be doing?
In the game of baseball?
In general. I assume it would be in the game of baseball.
I guess, I really enjoyed the player development position, but I don’t know now that I could go back to that. It’s too much work. (Laughs)
Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do when you’re not the GM?
What are you going to do?
I’ve given a lot of thought to that lately. See you later.
Want to talk Sox with Nate? Go to: http://blogs.dailysouthtown.com/whalen/