Joe Girardi


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Ryne Sandberg.

Being a theater critic, I love drama.  The newest drama that is keeping the city on the edge of its collective seat, started Tuesday when Lou Piniella announced his retirement to the media in the Friendly Confines before what turned out to be one of the best Cubs comebacks of the season–returning from 6 down to cream the Astros 14 to 7.

Usually, in Chicago, when we hear Lou to Go we think of our hometown pizza chain, Lou Malnati’s: “CALL, 1 800 Lou to go.”  But this time it’s Lou Piniella who is to go.  Piniella made the somewhat unexpected announcement yesterday saying: “I’ve had four wonderful years here that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I’ve grown to love the city and the fans but at my age (67 at the end of the season) it will be time to enter a new phase in my life…”

Cubs Chairman, Tom Ricketts, has made it perfectly clear that the Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry will be back next year and will select the new manager.  Lots of names are being tossed around from the Dodgers Joe Torre, Piniella’s bench coach Alan Trammell, Bob Brenly, Tony La Russa, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi.

I could be wrong, I certainly was with the LeBron scenario, but let’s say it boils down to what I see as the two most logical choices, Sandberg and Girardi.  Hendry has already confirmed that Ryno is on the short list.  Girardi, who lost out to Piniella in 2007 and is at the end of his contract with the Championship N.Y. Yankees, has always had a soft spot in his heart for Chicago.

Ryne Sandberg is well liked and well known in Chicago.  He is the favorite of the majority of the fans.  He is close to the Rickett’s family.  He has done an excellent job of managing at three levels in the Cubs organization.  His minor league experience could serve him well in bringing up the guys who could be the future of the Cubs.

But is this enough? 
Here are SEVEN REASONS why, if the Cubs truly want to win this time around they should pick Joe.

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Joe with wife Kim Girardi.

1. Statistics bear out that catchers (Girardi) make better managers than 2nd basemen (Sandberg).
2. Girardi is a proven winner in the majors having been named National League Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins and winning a World Series Championship with the New York Yankees.  Sandberg has done well in the minors but is unproven in the majors.
3. Catchers (Girardi) have the most experience in day-to-day dealings with the pitchers and game plans.
4. Like it or not, the media has a huge role in the making and breaking of sports teams. Hands down, Girardi has more media experience.  He has done an outstanding job with the New York media and is well liked by the Chicago media.
5.  Sandberg (b. 1959)  and Girardi (b. 1964) are both relatively young guys according to Major League manager standards.  Even if Girardi manages the Cubs for the next ten years, Sandberg could take over in 2021 and still be younger than Piniella when he took the Cubs job in 2007.
6. Location, location, location.  Giardi is almost a hometown boy.  Born in Peoria, Illinois, attending Northwestern University in Evanston and marrying a local girl, Giardi would be coming home and from what I hear happy to do so and to be near his extended family.  A happy manager is always a plus.  Sandberg, a product of Spokane, Washington, although he has spent years with the Cubs, is not truly a local boy.
7.  Joe knows the ropes.  Like it or not, Sandberg would be training on the job.  Cubs fans are tired of waiting, Joe can hit the ground running.

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    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

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