The announcement today that Mike Quade would return as Cubs manager and be given a two year contract with a team option for a third year, is not all that surprising. But it is disappointing.
While the reports are saying that Quade has had the interim label removed from his title, in essence any coach or manager in every sport is interim. They are all hired to be fired. Heck, truth be told, as humans we are all interim.
But the choice of Quade is a slap in the face of Ryne Sandberg. No, not because he has some unalienable right to the job just because he is a Hall of Fame former Cubs player. But because he did what he was told to do, went out a did a fine job, and then was basically told he was not wanted.
Ah, the old bait and switch. It's like going into Best Buy for a sale on an LED TV only to find that they're out of those, but hey what a great deal on a projection television.
When Ryno went into Jim Hendry's office and asked to be considered for the Cubs job back in 2006, he was told to go down to the minors and manage there. Perhaps he called Hendry's bluff, but surprise, surprise, Sandberg did exactly that — he went down to Class A ball.
And you know what? He actually did a helluva job managing in the minors. Not only did his teams win, he coached them up, and was a teacher as much as a manager. He also developed a personality along the way.
When Sandberg initially mentioned that he wanted to be a manager, I was very skeptical. What, a guy who hardly said a word is going to be able to communicate well enough to handle ballplayers and the media?
But dammit if he didn't learn quickly what he needed to do. Just like after going 0-for-40 when his playing career started, Sandberg quickly figured out what he needed to do to be a successful manager.
In fact, Ryno became downright fiery. I can't recall ever seeing him ejected from a game as a player but as a manager he was given the heave-ho plenty of times and was even suspended once.
Look, I realize that star players don't make for good managers historically, but this is different. Unlike Ted Williams or Frank Robinson being handed a managerial job, Sandberg went to the minors and learned his craft.
But it was apparent that Hendry never had any designs on Sandberg ever being his manager. Still, couldn't they have waited for Joe Girardi?
Sure, it's unlikely that Joe will choose to leave New York, but what if New York chose to leave him? You know how it goes there, if you don't win the World Series every year, you're on the hot seat.
I mean, at least wait to see if he becomes available. Nobody was going to rush out and hire Quade as their manager, so he wasn't going anywhere anyway.
Now, if Hendry and Tom Ricketts, who is rumored to be the owner of the Cubs, wanted Quade because of some special skills they observed, that's one thing. But if they address the issue at today's press conference by referring to his 24-13 record as interim manager, they are crazy.
First, it's such a small sample size in which to judge anyone. Second, teams often get a brief spark from a managerial change.
Meanwhile, Quade seems like a genuinely good guy and solid baseball mind. He also earned a shot given all the years he spent managing in the minors, winning more than 1,000 games. He spent time coaching for the Oakland A's and the Cubs as well.
But Quade just doesn't elicit excitement for a team that needs something to be hopeful about. A Sandberg hiring would have generated some interest as the team rebuilds.
On another level, the hiring seems to soldifiy that the Cubs are going young and will be rebuilding, at least to the extent that a team with some expensive, inmoveable conracts can rebuild.
Look, the Cubs aren't going anywhere next year so even the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy in his prime probably wouldn't win with this club. Still, it would have been nice to see Ryno get his shot.
What's next for Sandberg? No one knows. But we do know he has no future with the Cubs. And that's a shame.