Chicago Cubs Hire Mike Quade as Manager: What Were They Thinking?
With the announcement of Mike Quade as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs, the organization has finally done the impossible. They have taken away all hope from fans of the team and the promise of "Wait Until Next Year."
Most of us already assumed it would never happen in our lifetimes, but they just hammered the final nail in the coffin for fans of the North Side ballclub.
I feel like one of the vampires on True Blood, destined to live in darkness forever, or at least for how much time I have left on this planet. Unlike them, a stake through the heart or sunlight won't kill me, but Cub management will.
What were they thinking?
In this afternoon's press conference, Jim Hendry said, "I felt like Mike Quade was the best decision to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs. He was the best fit for us." Tom Ricketts then chimed in, "I agree."
Haven't these guys ever watched Seinfeld?
George Costanza was a perennial loser until he decided to do everything the opposite of what he thought was the right decision. Do you see the correlation here?
All of a sudden he got the girl and the job, working for the New York Yankees no less.
And speaking of the Yankees, aren't they two games away from open season on Joe Girardi, a guy from the Chicago area who previously expressed great interest in managing the Cubs?
When asked about Girardi, Hendry said, "At the end of the day, Mike Quade was our guy."
While Girardi was not my choice, wouldn't it have been worth it to wait a little longer to see if he had an interest? It's not like Quade was going anywhere.
Guys like him are a dime a dozen in every baseball organization. Baseball lifers who toil through the grind year after year hoping one day to get their chance in the "Show."
But in other organizations, those guys don't get the job. Why do the Cubs, who have been making bad decisions for 103 years, think this is the best fit for the organization?
Even Quade questioned his success during his stint managing the last 37 games, saying, "I'm smart enough to know that six weeks does not make a season—six months make a season."
He's right! And he's going to find out that there's a big difference between the first six weeks of a season and the last six weeks when your team is hopelessly out of the race.
The pressure is on and the fans are restless at Wrigley Field. Quade will not have a grace period if the team starts out poorly.
They say nobody goes to a game to watch the manager, but if the Cubs had hired hometown favorite, Ryne Sandberg, the fans would have given him time to learn on the job knowing the players he has to work with are not very good.
Even with the same players, that does not work for Quade. He will be expected to win right from the start because the fans are tired of losing.
At least with Sandberg, and his desire to develop a systematic organizational approach, there could have been hope for the future.
For an avid fisherman like Quade, this was the big catch. He just reeled in the whopper, and is going to do his best with what he has at the Major League level.
That's not good enough for the Chicago Cubs, because they have had far more qualified managers than him that couldn't bring home the prize. An entire change in philosophy for the organization was needed, and that's what Sandberg could have brought.
When asked about not getting hired by the Cubs, Sandberg admitted to being very disappointed, and was not sure if his future would still be with the Cubs.
This was a slap in the face to him. He was told after the 2006 debacle when the team lost 96 games that if he wanted to be a manager for the Cubs, he should go down to the minors and learn the craft.
But in the end, that didn't matter to Jim Hendry, who said only that "Sandberg was in the final group of consideration."
He may have been in the final group, but he was never Jim Hendry's guy. Quade was the choice right from the time he was chosen to take over the team instead of Alan Trammell.
Quade is hopeful for next year. "The way we pitched, with the improvement of the kids...Why not us? We expect to compete and to win from Day One."
Tom Ricketts also drank the kool-aid, saying "If we could build on the momentum we had in the last six weeks, we have to be a contender next year."
I wonder what he'll be saying if the team is 13-24 in Quade's first 37 games next year, looking at the empty seats, and the money he won't have to improve the team as Wrigley Field is no longer the "in" place to be in the lazy days of summer in Chicago.
He's at risk to lose a sure thing. Buying the cash cow that is the Cubs was a can't-lose venture, but so far, since taking over as the owner, he's done just about everything wrong.
His first mistake was not firing Jim Hendry when he took over and hiring a baseball guy to oversee the organization and make the baseball decisions. Then he raised ticket prices in a depressed market while not spending more money (something Hendry is very good at) to improve the team.
He wanted to make the Wrigley Field experience better by improving the bathrooms and cuisine.
That's not why people flock to Wrigley Field. While those things might be nice, the fans want a winning team. And I'm not talking about a stinking division title, I'm talking about winning the World Series.
Unless he gets a clue and cleans house, including his interim manager who just had the tag removed, and turns this into a professional organization, he might have a shorter term as owner of this ballclub than he anticipated.
In the meantime, I'm 55 years old and I've been writing for several years now in the opinion columns of the Tribune and Sun-Times, for the Heckler, Chicago Sports Review, and a few other websites—a lifer just like Quade, waiting to get my chance.
If the Cubs can make Quade's dream come true, what do you say Tribune, Sun-Times, ESPN Chicago? Give me a call.
Put me in coach, I'm ready.
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