Chicago is a tough town with a tough media.
As Dale Sveum said, "This place will chew you up and spit you out".
So is the solution to acquiesce and choose the media favorite?
Of course not. But the Cubs do need to consider the media. And like I said, it's a tough one. They'll poke and prod. They'll provoke. They'll dump 100+ years of frustration on top of you. That's their job. That isn't going to change.
The question is how do you handle it?
While we get bogged down in things like a name manager, reputation, and/or past record, the Cubs are looking for the right person for the job. It has a lot to do with who that person is and how he handles himself and those around him.
I've mentioned in the past that a successful friend of mine once gave me some great advice. If someone says or does something that makes you angry or frustrated -- that's not the time to communicate. You wait. And not just count to ten -- give yourself at least 24 hours and if it's still a problem for you, then you can address it and by then you will have removed yourself from the immediate emotional reaction.
While Sveum was laid back, it did get to him sometimes and all too often, he deflected the fire to his young players. It's a mistake he'll have to learn from in future jobs. Compare that to Terry Francona's philosophy as stated in the book "Red Sox Rule: Terry Francona and Boston's Rise to Dominance"
"He (Francona) admitted to Epstein that he was sometimes too protective of his players, but he didn't believe in communicating with them through the media. He was similar to Epstein in that he'd wait to make sure his emotions didn't lead to an overreaction with his players and coaches. Then, on a plane or bus ride or standing on the edge of the outfield grass the next day, he'd say what he needed to. If the choices were talking tough to reporters and fans or working privately to make sure players were accountable to both him and their teammates, he always chose the latter."
Sounds like my friend would have hired him too -- and his company has nothing to do with baseball.
The interview process itself is very detailed and complex with question after question. But here's the kicker -- and stop me if you've heard this one before from a teacher/evaluator -- there are no wrong answers.
At worst it sounds like a trap. At best it sounds like something designed to get you to relax. But that's not really it. As someone who has done this kind of work in the past, I can tell you that any answer can be correct. It's about context and how you defend your answer that's important. The book pretty much says the same thing. An example of a question and one possible answer in the book is, "What's most important to you?" One answer is D) Making sure your uniform looks good in the dugout. It seems like an absurd choice, definitely the "wrong" answer. The natural reaction is to think this guy is some sort of narcissist... but maybe it's about professionalism, maybe it's about discipline and detail, maybe it's about self-respect, or some other reason or reasons. The point is how you defend your answer says more about you than the answer itself.
And if you're looking for a tough guy to manage the Cubs, forget it. Francona was once considered "too nice", as we've mentioned before, but as we've seen in the quote above, it doesn't mean he doesn't hold players accountable for their mistakes.
Francona is truly a guy who cares about people -- and not just his players, but everybody. There was a story in the book of him studying the media guides and memorizing everyone who had a picture. Everyone knows the stars, Francona wanted to know everybody from the guys behind the scenes in the office to the clubhouse manager. Too nice? Maybe. But when you get to know everyone on a personal level, then you're far less likely to throw them under the bus. There should be no wonder that teams will go through a wall for Francona and he never has to scream and shout to make them do it. They do it because they want to do it. They do it because they know he always has their back.
You can expect a similar quality with the next Cubs manager. We don't have the information the Cubs have after they go through their incredibly extensive process. We as bloggers, fans or the media do not get to know the candidates that closely. And while we worry about things that can sometimes be superficial and extraneous, we can be sure the Cubs will get to the core and hire the right person for the job.
The rest will take care of itself.
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