Don't Underestimate the Cubs: They Can Make a Mess of Anything

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

For weeks, for as long as the least intelligent fan among us has known that the Cubs had no prayer of reaching the post-season this year, players and management alike have cried out, "There's a ton of talent in this lockerroom. We're not out of this race until there's an 'X' next to our name in the standings!" That sort of drivel.

As of the other day, however, this never-say-die franchise is under the stewardship of a 66-year-old manager ("almost 67," Lou pointed out to us) who has looked disconnected from virtually the start of the season ("Look, fellas, I'm out of answers. I really am."). Jim Hendry explained that after a long, distinguished career as a player and World Series-winning manager, Lou "deserves" to go out on his own terms.

My question is, what do Cub fans deserve? Don't we at least deserve to see what would happen if this comically awful circus troupe might perform better if it sensed some urgency; if it was under the direction of someone driven by his own hunger to turn an interim manager title into something more lasting? 

I'll answer my own question—we absolutely deserve that much.

Regarding the endorsement Jim Hendry received from the Chairman on the day of the Piniella press conference...

As Rob G. wrote in the comments, the fact that Hendry, whose teams have now failed to win a single post-season game in seven years, will now be hiring his third Cubs manager is frankly unbelievable. I have nothing else to add there.

Finally, regarding the Hall of Famer in the room...

I'm already tired of hearing Ryne Sandberg invoke his four years of service at Peoria and Des Moines as proof of his fitness for a job that has crushed managers with much more experience and much more impressive managerial resumés. Sandberg somehow conveys an air of entitlement and embarrassing desperation at the same time. I would love to see him NOT get the Cubs' job if only to learn for certain if the rest of Major League Baseball is as convinced of Sandberg's managerial potential as #23 is.

I suppose there's always that job in Baltimore.

 

 

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Comments

disagree that sandberg acts entitled and/or embarrassingly desperate & think he is worthy of admiration for his willingness to go almost directly from cooperstown back to the bush leagues & start over...as for what we cub fans deserve, maybe a team that plays commensurate to its collective salary...

Mike,

Appreciate your point of view given that you are watching Sandberg on a daily basis. (Funny that your post and mine went up almost simultaneously and offered such different points of view.)

My read on Sandberg is based on the way he is coming across in the Chicago press, which also might explain the relatively tepid reaction his candidacy seems to be getting here. (You said you wondered about that in your post.)

I feel like Sandberg has been campaigning for this job for a very long time, and that feels desperate to me. By contrast, Alan Trammel said he is not interested in discussing the job via the press and even Brenly, who interviewed for the position when Piniella got it and has been open about wanting to get back on the field, is tip-toeing around the subject and saying things like, "I would be happy to discuss the job with the Cubs if that makes sense at some point."

I will admit to my cynicism. I got sick of the way the John McDonough-era Cubs turned so many of the ex-players (e.g., Santo) into mascots, and I would hate to think the Ricketts regime would follow the same course with this first managerial hire.

What is the proper way to treat ex-players?

depends on the ex-player's injury...

I think it's possible to make ex-players feel like they're still part of the family without making them so central to your fan convention or having them sing TMOTTB or commemorating the anniversary of the day they broke into the big leagues. McDonough was particularly proud that the Cubs forged and maintained that relationship with their ex's.

Makes all of the "Day One," "Building a New Tradition" stuff pretty hollow, though, doesn't it?

Speaking of McDonough--one of my favorite topics--I'm curious to see how deep he'll dip into the ex-Blackhawk family next season considering that he worked the Bobby Hull/Stan Mikita/Tony Esposito angle to death this year.

Who's up for "Whitey Stapleton Bobblehead Night" or a Chico Maki Beer Cozy?

this might be a good time to renew the argument in favor of doing away w/ the 7th inning stretch ritual - scott sanderson? really?

I thought it jumped the shark with Tim Stoddard.

Not a fan at all of the stretch. But if they're going to do it, I'm okay with the Sanderson and Stoddard types.

It's the Kelly Picklers and Jeff Gordons and the like that make me change the channel for a while.

I see no downside to making former players welcome, especially at something like the Cubs Convention. Should only current players be central at that? I guess I'm just not understanding the strong dislike here, but to each their own.

I don't read desperation in Sandberg's statements, but rather determination. This is the job he wants. He said that 4 years ago. He asked what he needed to do to get it. They told him to manage in the minors. He said, fine, I'll do that and will be successful. He has been. Now he wants the job.

Is he supposed to say "Well, I would be happy to discuss it with Jim when the time comes." No. That would be stupid. We all know where he stands. He is not bullshitting us.

For me, this is refreshing. Sandberg has set a goal, made it public, worked hard, done well, and will likely soon achieve it. This is an attitude that is missing a lot on the Cubs. The Cubs always lack hunger. We always criticize the team and manager for looking flat. We get managers who want to manage the Cubs after the Cubs offer them salaries higher than everyone else and huge payrolls. I bet if you offered him the lowest salary of any major league manager to manage the Cubs next year, he'd probably take it. Think about that. Jeez.

I hope he gets the job. I like it. If a player wants to improve his defense, Sandberg can say, "well, show up two hours early tomorrow to work with the coaches." If the player protests, Sandberg can say "I rode buses for 4 years to get this job, if you want something you will have to work too."

As with all things Cubs, it could fail colossally for a number of foresee and unforeseen reasons. But I am all for trying it. Hiring some of the best/highest paid managers in baseball hasn't worked. Let's hire the hall of fame player who is dedicated to the franchise and see if he can whip it into shape.

amen...

Well said

points taken - i just think the essence of sandberg's 'campaign' is grunt work & on the job training @ the minor league level...agree w/ your cynicism re: mascotizing former players for marketing purposes, but also think managerial hires are often crapshoots; recent past w/ celebrity types hasn't gotten us to the promised land...in any case, as i said, i am not unequivocally beating ryno's drum; just suggesting if they go one direction he makes sense; if they stay the course of megadeals for FA's he probably doesn't - either way, i respect & admire his approach to the game & think it is an antidote in some ways to cynicism...

But if I lose my cynicism I'll have nothing left!

Bill yells out another fallen leader's name, instead of Geronimo, when he jumps in

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/22/bill...

Forbes ranks Cubs the world's 46th most valuable sports franchise.

http://bit.ly/bTRCPz

I know Cubdom is jizzing at the thought of Ryno for manager, but my personal vote is for Eric Wedge.

I don't know much about Wedge, but I am hoping that Brenly gets the job and Sandberg gets a bench coach job.

I have two concerns with Sandberg: 1) What kind of in game manager is he? Will he bunt a ton like Baylor? Maybe this is a small issue - not THAT many decisions for a manager to make. 2) How will he be able to deal with the overpaid athletes that he hasn't had to manage yet. I seem to remember him as a Derrek Lee type in the locker-room. Not overly outspoken, lead by example - I was young when he was playing so I have no facts to base this on. But I don't know how that leadership style will play out with guys like Soriano, Zambrano, Ramirez. So far he's only had to handle players who are motivated as hell to get to the next level. These guys already have their money.

Vote Brenly!!!

Unless we get Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to go with Brenly.....

Stark includes a blurbs about Lilly and Z (at the bottom) in his discussions about possible trades.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?c...

I want nothing more than Ryne Sandberg to lead the Cubs where we all want them to be led to.

I fear though he'll fail miserably like every other Cub manager and will do so by doing a lot of things I find stupid when managing a game...and then my childhood will forever be ruined.

They already took Transformers, GI Joes and Star Wars away from me...stop at my sports heroes. At least Walter Payton had the good grace to die (Rest in Peace Sweetness) before he got dragged through the mud.

The liver disease was probably brought on by steroid abuse.

/kicks Santa in the nuts and shoots Easter bunny between the ears

How about just kicking Christmas in the nuts?

MLB to test for HGH in minor leagues

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_...

What I don't want is to see them just give the job to Sandberg. I want a thorough examination of candidates. There are a lot of decent candidates out there who would like to be considered, some with major league managing experience (including Trammell and Brenly). They should interview them all, determine which way this team is going to be put together over the next 2-3 years, and determine which guy suits that determination best. If Sandberg is the best candidate after that process, fair enough. If he's not, they need to go with the guy that is the best candidate after they go through the process.

how does a team screw up hiring a manager besides either 1- paying him like he actually plays 2- hiring a guy who can't manage personalities? #1 doesn't even really effect the cubs badly since they're spending so much money...

we go through this every time we kick our last "next big thing" out. hell, almost every team does.

people think a manager is gonna do something or make grown young men with millions do something. everyone's looking for the f'n winston churchhill of baseball it seems.

what are you people basing decent candidates on?

can they speak spanish? can they communicate with various types of people in a way they'll understand? how are they going to handle a player going rogue? what's their temper? what's their past experience with the game?

seriously? how much does it matter?

I think it matters a lot. Do you mean to suggest that they should just hire anyone?

Should they hire Dusty again? Don Baylor? Trebelhorn?

that's the thing...every time i bring this up someone says "well i want a guy that didn't do what that other guy did" rather than what they want.

what makes freddy gonzalez more or less of a guy than sandberg...i can name a few on both sides.

add more names to the list.

when it's all said and done how much does it matter?

I think you make valid points but what everyone wants is TO WIN.

The million dollar question?? How to make that happen, and fans and media alike examine everything down to the guy who manages the clubhouse (Go Yosh!); what other team's fans have even HEARD of their clubhouse guy??

On a (somewhat-) related note, there was a great article recently about Scott Rolen ripping the facilities the Cubs have, he almost sounded like he felt sorry for the Cubs and didn't understand why nobody else had figured out that's why the Cubs suck...

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-07-06...

The thing Sandberg and Brenly to an extent have going for them is there are no surprises about what the pressure is to win here, day baseball and all the other Cub bull shit that goes on.

Baylor, Baker and Lou all were stunned that fans actually wanted to win and it's not a beer garden.

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