After last Tuesday's loss to the last place Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano responded to a question in the post-game press conference about the manager not being fond of him breaking bats over his leg after striking out saying, "What manager?"
Zambrano's tirade after Sunday's sixth loss in a row by the Cubs, after back-to-back walk-off home runs by Albert Pujols was not a surprise. He has no respect for the manager, and the question I ask is, "Can you blame him?"
"Big Z" called out the team after the game.
"We play like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. We stink."
Isn't it refreshing for a player to be so candid instead of covering up for the ineptitude of the club? Sure, people say Zambrano is not the one to talk, but if he doesn't, who will?
At least he cares enough about winning to put himself in harms-way with his outburst, while the manager keeps on repeating his mantra that we'll get them tomorrow. Zambrano is realistic enough to see there might not be a tomorrow.
They are currently 11 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals along with being 11 games under .500.
Does anyone think they can compete in the division with the team they're putting on the field and the guy running the club?
After Tuesday's game when asked if he was going to talk to Zambrano about the bat-breaking incident, Quade alluded that Zambrano knows I don't want him to do that.
After Sunday's game when asked by reporters how he would respond to Zambrano's outburst, Quade said he would let his players "deal with" what he said.
What does that mean? Does he want them to confront him in the clubhouse about it? Is there anyone on the team suicidal enough to do that? Is there a leader on the team?
The manager certainly isn't one. It's his job to talk to a player rather than saying he knows I don't want him to do that, or leaving it to somebody else to do his job for him.
This was the problem when the Cubs first hired Quade. He was a career lifer in the minor leagues for a reason. Other than a brief taste of coaching with the Oakland A's, where they didn't renew his contract, he seemed destined to anonymity until Cubs GM Jim Hendry gave him an opportunity with the Cubs.
He was the Triple-A Iowa Cubs manager before Hendry elevated him to the present team to coach third on manager Lou Piniella's staff.
After a 24-13 record taking over for Piniella last year, Hendry changed his title from interim to manager, passing over Cub fan-favorite Ryne Sandberg.
The players on the team backed him, because as Ryan Dempster was quoted in Barry Rozner's column in the Daily Herald, "He's one of us."
The Cubs didn't need somebody that was one of the guys and had a nickname for everyone. They needed a Major League manager that the players would respect.
Respect is playing hard and showing you care, and how many players on the Cubs do that on a regular basis? Respect is having pride in your performance on the field.
That's why Zambrano's words rang so true. This does not look like a Major League team.
They are fundamentally inept, they don't run the bases well, and they are not prepared.
The manager's job is to have them ready to play.
Supposedly in spring training they worked on fundamentals, but it doesn't show.
Quade often looks lost, not knowing how to deal with situations that happen on the field, or in this case, with a player speaking out.
He let the team get beat two days in a row by the best hitter in baseball when he should have been letting anybody but Pujols beat him.
If it happens once, shame on me, but back-to-back days, shame on you.
While the Cubs probably would not be winning their first World Series since 1908 with Sandberg, don't you think they would at least be playing better baseball?
Don't you think the players, including Carlos Zambrano, would respect the Hall of Famer?
I guarantee you they wouldn't walk all over him like they do Quade, and Sandberg wouldn't be afraid to confront anyone, including Zambrano.
Isn't it likely that a player as well-versed in how to play the game as Sandberg would be able to pass that on to his players?
Sandberg left the Cubs after getting passed over for the job and is now managing the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, who currently are in first place in their division. In their previous three years of existence, they were never in first place for even one day.
Aside from losing a Cub legend, they also lost a built-in bridge to respectability. The fans would have given Ryno, one of the most beloved Cubs of all-time, some leeway.
With Mike Quade as manager, they had to win immediately, or watch the fans desert the team.
Cub attendance is down, and that's because the team is now drawing Wrigley Field fans instead of Cub fans. The park will automatically always have a built-in audience, but the real Cub fans are staying away in droves over disgust at the path the club is taking.
Just listening to the radio today and reading the blogs, Sandberg's name was repeatedly mentioned. The buzz has been growing the more the Cubs lose, and as the evidence builds that Quade is in way over his head managing this team.
He's starting to be compared to some of the worst managers in Chicago baseball history in Terry Bevington and Jim Essian.
Quade realizes the pressure is building, and was quoted in Paul Sullivan's column in the Chicago Tribune on Saturday saying, "All of us have had adversity in our lives, and anybody who thought this was going to be the yellow-brick road for Mike Quade or anybody else who does this job is nuts."
Another quote by Quade in the same article might have said it best. "I'm real lucky to be sitting here doing this job in this city."
And is it only me, but does anyone else have a problem with a 54-year old man constantly talking about himself in the third person? It was funny when a character named "Jimmy" did it in a Seinfeld episode way back when, but it's not so funny now.
I don't think Cub fans feel lucky or like laughing.
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