Tonight, the Dodgers will begin their playoff season with Game 1 of the National division series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. While it's easy to understand the pressures of the game on the players and coaches, there are others in any sports organization that are also feeling the pressure, who are responsible for the team's success.
Notably, a team's general manager. Ned Colletti signed and traded players for the Dodgers as their GM for nine seasons. He helped turn a losing team into winners during the tumultuous era of team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Colletti wrote about it in his book called "The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces From The Inside World of the Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager."
Take Two’s A Martinez spoke with Colletti about his experiences.
An unusual job interview with Frank McCourt
I showed up in a sport coat, and a sweater, and a nice pair of slacks. And the meeting went for like, 12 hours… on a Monday. It went until like, one in the morning. I felt like I was in a heavyweight fight. So then, at the very end of the day, it’s 1 o’clock and we’re standing outside of the suite we were meeting in at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and he said, ‘Where you staying tonight, cause we’re going to meet back at 6 AM?’ So, I’ve got five hours and he says, ‘Where you gonna sleep tonight?’ And I said, ‘Well, I thought that I was going to stay here’… and he says ‘No, nobody is staying here.’ So we’re arguing out in the hallway and he finally acquiesces and lets me stay there. I didn’t know it until the next day, but the heat was turned up as high as it could get. I’m sweating for like 12 hours. And so the next day, he asks me, ‘So what’d you think of Monday... any concerns when I left here?’ And I said, ‘Why are you asking?’ And he said, ‘Because I did everything I could yesterday to see how tough you were going to be, to see what you would put up with, to see how you would handle all the different things. He said that, 'The heat was up, we didn’t eat, I knew you were going to be dressed nicely, and then I wanted to see if you would stand up for yourself in the end.’
Staying focused while McCourts were embroiled in bankruptcy and divorce
One of the great things that I learned through this whole experience with the Dodgers at that period of time was, there’s only so many things in life you can control. And when you’re the GM you’ve got a bunch of things that you need to look after. And so, could I help them with the bankruptcy? Absolutely not. Could I help them with the divorce? No. What I had to do – and when I was talking to Joe Torre or Don Mattingly about it – it was really, okay, this is your responsibility, this is my responsibility, how do we get the team as good as we can get it? That’s what we need to do.
If the Dodgers don't take the World Series
It’s not easy to win. If it was easy to win, the Cubs wouldn’t have taken 108 years to win…. That’s why sports is such a draw and why so many people watch it, listen to it, attend it– because it’s unpredictable…. And it’s tough to do. It’s a frustration point for me because you just can’t say, well, a whole season is lost if they don’t win the World Series. Do they want to win the World Series? Oh my goodness, do they! Have they done everything that they can to do it? Absolutely, they have. Have they been preparing for this really, really diligently for the last 12 months? Absolutely. Since they got beat by the Cubs, from that moment on, they’ve been focused on October.
You can catch Ned Colletti in conversation with the LA Times' Houston Mitchell, at Chevalier's Books in Larchmont on Wednesday, October 11, at 7:00 PM.
To hear the full interview with Ned Colletti, click on the media player above.