Sandberg finally gets to manage at Wrigley Field

Sandberg finally gets to manage at Wrigley Field

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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  • Sandberg was a great player and an iconic Cub. He'll, get his shot at the Philly job, and we'll see how it works out. I consider Girardi to be a, much more apt Cub Skipper choice. Catchers seem to make better managers.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I absolutely agree with you re: Girardi. I am much more irritated that Hnedry selected Piniella over Girardi than Quade over Sandberg.

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    I'm with you. To this day, I'm still shocked that Sandberg was passed over for Quade. Maybe they were worried about setting up Sandberg up to fail due to a lack of talent, but Sandberg coached many of the players that are on the big league team today (Barney, Russell, et al). He was already familiar with the players in the system. Even if Hendry was worried about setting up Sandberg to fail (which I don't buy), you still could've gotten a sense of the type of manager he'd be with a better roster. IMO, there was nothing to lose by seeing what Sandberg could do as a big league Skipper at the time he was passed over for Quade.

  • There just seems to be in uncomfortableness when it came to Hendry and Sandberg I'm not sure what it was

  • I for one, am not one of these silly fans who think the Cubs missed out on hiring Sandberg. Maybe he will be great, maybe he won't. Who knows.

    I just don't think he should have been given the job because he was a former Cub great. That has nothing to do with it.

    As was pointed out, it didn't work out for Trammel. It didn't work out for Joe Torre early on. It didn't work out for Bart Starr. Just because you are a star and HOFer with a team, doesn't mean you will be a great manager.

    Quade was a head scratcher for sure, but passing on Sandberg was nothing more than a "meh" moment for me.

  • Not even in my Top 10 of Hendry head scratchers. However, in an attempt to remain positive I will say that Ryno is obviously also one of my all-time favorites and paid his dues in the minors in order to earn the chance to show Phillies brass whether he's capable of managing a big league club.

    I hope (and expect) Ryno gets the warm welcome he deserves from the fans this weekend!

  • For Cub fans Sandberg was a class act, but other organizations, individual players, and at one time minor league umpires didn't share that view. His everyday personality may have been different than his public image or perceived by many to be that way. I often wandered if Blacks and Hispanics resented his media status for real or imagined slights. Anyway, he earned his shot by starting at the bottom, which would not be the path of an arrogant elitist.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Hmmm interesting point of view. Lets see how he handles the different types of players. It's a must these days.

  • To be fair, Sveum had more to work with in 2012 than Alan Trammell did in Detroit in 2003. Trammell had Dmitri Young as his only truly good player. Carlos Pena, Nate Cornejo, and Jamie Walker were all passably acceptable, though they weren't really anything beyond complimentary pieces in terms of '03 production, and they were arguably amongst that team's top 5 players. I guess Alex Sanchez wasn't bad either, but he wasn't particularly great.

    I do get your point, though, and I don't feel that 99% of former players can just be handed the reins of a team without prior managerial or coaching experience. Obviously, guys like Mike Matheny and Joe Girardi did well, but they were good on-field managers in their time, and have that "it" factor.

    Nobody will ever understand the Quade hire. It wasn't the worst possible decision, as the '10 squad did seem to care when he took over, but there were better options. Of course, with how upset some fans are over Ryno managing elsewhere, imagine the total chaos that would have ensued had Theo and Jed's first move been firing Ryno.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Oh I'm sure Theo appreciates not having to do that.

  • Who's the old guy in the pic?

  • Looks as if Greg Maddux is locked in to a future in the front office, but I always thought he'd make an excellent Cubs manager.

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    Probably could do just about anything in the game.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I love Maddux as much as the next guy but aside from being a HOF player what has he accomplished beyond that to think he could be a great manager or FO person? Didn't we acquire Blake DeWitt on his recommendation?

  • How did Denis Savard work out.

    Dale signed a three year deal which ends at the end of next year.
    I don't see the Cubs firing or extending him before then.
    .

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    I think it's going to be telling if they don't extend.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree Tom, Next year is a big one for Sveum.

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    In reply to kansascub:

    I dunno. With him having done serious damage to Russell by overuse (apparently) and being told from above what to do with Castro and Rizzo, it would seem the writing is already on the wall.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm fine with that. I'm a little miffed at regression from Castro/Rizzo.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'm right there with you Tom. My biggest measure for Sveum was as the leading evangelist of the "Cubs Way" as we moved away from the past and into the future. Most folks reasonably felt like Castro & Rizzo were going to be a big part of that future, so to see both of them with their heads spun around and having horrible seasons does not instill much confidence in me that Sveum is the right guy for the job.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Well if Rizzo and Castro weren't doing things the "Cubs Way" shouldn't Sveum say something and discuss the approach and dare I say, try and change the approach to match the "Cubs Way"?

    He did and one has not responded well at all. The other is OK and is putting up decent numbers.

    You can't have it both ways.

  • Perhaps Theo was sparing Sandberg the grief of a total rebuild. Whoever was hired in 2012 was going to have to endure three or four brutal years. Perhaps Sveum was the sacrificial lamb, keeping the job warm for the real manager to take over when (not if) the Cubs are ready to contend.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    Maybe the type manager needed for a rebuild is much different than the type needed to guide a team to the WS.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's a point that nobody seems to bring up. I personally think there is a well thought out progression of the type of manager we want going into the future. I don't know if they have specific managers in mind but I do think they specific types of managers in mind.

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    "Sveum wasn’t even their first choice (Mike Maddux)..."

    What happened with Mike Maddux? Was it actually wanting to be closer to his family as I seem to recall him saying or was there more to why he didn't get/take the job?

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I think he didn't want to take on this type of gig. It's rough.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    That's how I remember it.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    He wanted no part of a total rebuild.

  • Good luck Ryno!... unless you're playing the Cubs.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Let him have these three games. But that's it!

  • If the Phillies sweep the Cubs it won't help the FO and Sveum, as many fans are already losing patience.

  • I was very shocked that Ryno didn't get a chance to manage the cubs. What I think is sad, besides Dale being in charge, is the fact we have no former cubs in the system to help coach. It would be special to have greg maddux as a pitching coach, ryno, mark grace, andre dawson or kerry wood to coach in the system!!!!

  • In reply to WinSoon:

    It would, but it would be more special to win several World Series, no matter who the manager/coaching staff is!

  • In reply to SouthBender:

    Come to think of it, isn't Bill Buckner in Boise?

  • In reply to SouthBender:

    I agree, the number 1 goal is to win the World series. But the last few manager choices haven't provided that. I would just like to see the former players comeback and build us into that. Most of the successful teams have players that were a part of that team.

  • In reply to WinSoon:

    Eh, only if they are actually good coaches. Best players don't make good teachers usually.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    That may be true but being a average mlb player or never making it to the show doesn't make you a great manager. Ask quade and Svuem.

  • So funny that my dad who is a life long cubs fan but if you ask him sandburg is his least favorite cub. He always says sandburg was overrated, and he was not a good defender. Every time he hears about or sees sandburg he goes on how he never left his feet for a ground ball.

  • In reply to seankl:

    If anything he had the athleticism and acumen to not have to dive most of the time. Besides plenty of great plays with him leaping into air, he transcended position IMO.

  • In reply to seankl:

    No offense to your Pop, but I have never bought that view. Ryno could cover more ground that way as he had the a ability to look as if he were diving for a ball yet had the agility to get his feet back underneath himself. There was a shortstop a while back that played for Houston, who had that same ability to stretch without leaving his feet.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Non taken you and tom are entitled to your opinion as well. My dad doesn't like a few players that are loved in chicago.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Well, some pretty good baseball people like Joe Morgan and Keith Hernandez would agree with him. Always room for a difference of opinion.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I always get the sense, though, that Joe Morgan didn't like that Sandberg's attention somehow diminished the glow that surround him. That is to say, I don't think Morgan is very objective about Sandberg.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Just looked it up and Sandberg was top 10 in defensive WAR twice in his career. So he probably isn't a HOFer just for his D, but he was probably above average. I think players leave their feet too often, so I don't have a problem with the way Sandberg played. By the way, Joe Morgan never was top 10 in defensive WAR.

  • In reply to DunstonWoo!:

    I have more appreciation for the way Sandberg played 2nd than Phillips for the Reds. He always seems to be falling down or throwing from his knees when there is no need.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Spell his name right at least. Or call him Ryno.

  • In reply to seankl:

    My dad says the same thing lol. Not that I agree just funny to hear it's not just my dad!

  • And once again, Loxas writes the column I was gonna write on Sunday (May still). Sigh.......

    I'm ecstatic Ryno got a manager's job. He was my favorite player and he gained even more respect for me when he rode the buses and managed at Peoria and Tennessee.... But he wasn't ready or qualified to be manager when the job was open and that includes when Magoo (Quade) was hired. And Theo knew that hiring him to over see this two-three year dreck was total unfair. Can you imagine if Ryno was managing and had 190 losses after two years and fans were frustrated and Theo was put in a position where he had to fire Ryne Sandberg....? Not fair to anybody.

    My guess is Sandberg manages this year. Maybe he gets the job, but I bet they look around. And when nobody takes the job (at least nobody they want) Ryne is given the job and he oversees a couple of losing seasons..... and we're responding to a bunch of I-told-you-so's which isn't fair either.

    Hey. At least Rizzo just went yard.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Sorry Felzzy had to address it today.

  • There is some talk that the Twins might give the axe to Ron Gardenhire.
    If that happens, I'm hoping Theo/Jed move quick and hire him. I think he would be perfect to lead the stable of talent the Cubs have on the way.

    Do it.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Are you referring to Yellon's "column" or is this coming from somewhere else?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't read yellon or bcb. There are a ton of articles that Gardenhire is on the hot seat. Just google Ron gardenhire and there will be a bunch of articles regarding his future status with the Twins.

    By the way, I stopped going to that site in question after earlier this year he was saying that the Cubs are sure to put Almora on the 40 man this offseason so that they could invite him to spring training. He got called out on it and tried to defend it. His answers clearly displayed his lack of knowledge. It was embarrassing. I kind of cringed when I read it.

  • Excellent, Tom.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Thanks John.

  • I am sick of john arguello and his castro bashing !!!!!!!

  • In reply to seankl:

    Yeah I'm sorry about that and his overall negativity towards this FO. ;)

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Just to let you know that was a joke, someone on twitter accused him of bashing castro all the time.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I knew you weren't serious.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Just wanted to jump in.

  • Simply obscene baseball. Complete underachieving, and unacceptable. This is not progress, it is a reaffirmation of a losing culture. I expect the front office to address it.

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    It's a bad team that is losing the games bad teams lose. No need to get too upset. Talent is coming -- when we have talent we'll win.

  • You are correct. The major league team is underachieving. The Cubs are on pace to finish with a 67-95 record. There should be higher expectations for the big league roster. The field manager and coaching staff do not know how to correct the losing. The team looks confused, and there have been multiple unacceptable mental errors this season. The losing appears to be taking a toll on the young players the front office describes as long term assets (Castro, Rizzo, Samardija, etc.) It is time to start teaching the young assets to win.

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    IF the talent isn't there, the best coaches will not win. You have some young unproven talent and some nice guys that should be role players playing a major role.

    At this point, that is the plan. You may disagree with the Plan itself, but that is the plan that was put into place and it is following along, for the most part, exactly like Theo and Jed wanted to.

  • What. Can't pinch run for Navarro?

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