Back in November of 2006, I spoke with then Cubs GM Jim Hendry about his new skipper Lou Piniella.
Hendry was visibly excited and openly raved about his new hire. Then Hendry dropped a little nugget on how Ryne Sandberg had asked him for a meeting to convey he wanted to manage. It came out of left field. Sandberg hadn't shown any indication of wanting to get back in the game.
That wasn’t the shocking part. Sandberg wanted the Cubs job then and there.
Hendry wasn’t about to hand over his club to someone without any managerial or coaching experience at the time. The Cubs were shifting into win now mode.
As it turns out, Hendry would never be comfortable giving the keys to the former Cub great. I am to this day shocked that the Hall of Famer would ride the bus, let alone for six years in pursuit of his dream job. It just wasn’t in the cards for Ryno.
In the three times Sandberg was up to get the Cubs job, there was only one time I was surprised that he didn’t get it. The time Hendry handed the job over to someone less deserving in Mike Quade.
The fact that Theo Epstein didn’t have any interest in Sandberg didn’t shock many. There wasn’t any previous history there, and Sandberg is seen as from the old school. A manager who talks openly about (gasp) bunting?
The front office went with Dale Sveum who they had previous ties to, who had coached in a big market, had managerial experience, and was hip to statistical analysis, or as Sveum calls it "Cyber".
Sveum wasn’t even their first choice (Mike Maddux) but he made more sense than Sandberg for this regime.
It is strange to watch Sandberg manage with a different team. However, we just saw Don Mattingly managing the Dodgers instead of the Yankees. You see Kirk Gibson managing the D’Backs, not the Tigers. Mike Scossia and Dusty Baker leading the Angels and Reds, not the Dodgers.
Sandberg was always beloved here even though he started his Cubs career off by going (0-20) and (1-32) How would that start have gone over these days?
Full disclosure; Sandberg is my favorite player I have ever watched. June 23, 1984 will forever be burnt in my memory as one of my favorite summer days.
However, I am torn this weekend when it comes to listening to fans that think a former connection should lead to no-brainer hire, expecting the former player and team to live happily ever after.
It just doesn’t usually work out that way, ask Alan Trammell.
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