Not long after Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced his plans to retire at the end of the season, former Cub, and current Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg decided to throw his name in the list of potential candidates to replace Piniella next season.
But does Sandberg really know what he’s getting himself into?
The pressure of the Cubs winning a World Series has built up like a nasty rumor at the workplace, and Sandberg hopes he can be the man to clean it all up.
Sandberg’s decision to be considered for the job is no surprise, and if he were to get the job, he would be following a couple of respectable managers who failed to accomplish the ultimate MLB goal.
Dusty Baker had the Cubs only five outs away from reaching the World Series. But Cubs’ fans know how that season ended.
It’s no wonder that Lou Piniella has aged like Robin Williams in the movie “Jack” over his four seasons with the Cubs.
Don’t get me wrong, I like “Sweet Lou.” He’s led the Cubs to three winning seasons with a possible, but unlikely, chance to finish over .500 this season. He has also taken the Cubs to the postseason twice in that span, only to see the entire team go cold like a frozen margarita in both appearances.
When Piniella is done at the end of the season, his relationship with Cubs’ fans will be similar to that of Baker’s. You know, that relationship that didn’t work out but you promise each other you’ll still remain “good friends,” when in reality you grimace at the thought of showing up at the same pizza parlor as that person. Oh well, we’ll always have the memories.
Not that Sandberg has much to worry about, but if you screw up with the Cubs, you’re likely to get shun from the city altogether. Just ask Milton Bradley. Heck, you don’t even have to be a member of the organization to get exiled from Chicago. Sorry Steve Bartman.
But Sandberg may be just what the Cubs need. He’s played in Chicago and he knows what kind of pressure comes along with winning in the organization.
In the 80’s and 90’s, Sandberg was “the man” for the Northsiders. This was back in the good ole’ days when the Cubs had Andre “The Hawk” Dawson, a young Mark Grace, and, who were all of those good pitchers the Cubs had back then?
Sandberg worked as a coach under managers Don Baylor and Dusty Baker for several years before managing the Cubs’ minor league affiliates for the past four years.
He is currently managing the triple-A Iowa Cubs to a first place season, where he has taught and developed several young, up-and-coming players looking to make a splash at the big league level.
In a time when the Cubs need to get back to the fundamentals, what better candidate than Sandberg, who had a career .989 fielding percentage, the major league record at second base.
So I say give Sandberg a shot. If he fails, he’ll be just another statistic on a long list of Cubs managers who couldn’t get the job done.
Sure there might be some failure along the way, but after 100 plus years of no championship and a disappointing season this year, what are a couple more down seasons to Cubs’ fans? The volcano has already erupted and Sandberg wants to sweep up the ashes.
Can you imagine? One of their own, a Cubbie favorite, rises like a phoenix from those ashes with the team grasped firmly to accomplish what seems almost impossible these days. If he succeeds, he’ll be a legend in Chicago forever. That's probably an understatement.
After all, fairytale endings only come with some struggles along the way. Unfortunately for the Chicago Cubs, it’s a long book they’ve been writing.