So, Mike Quade gets fired, and within a split second of the news breaking, the cries all over the city are for Theo Epstein to go out and hire former Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
Epstein’s answer to the city?
“The next manager must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.’’
And just like that, Ryno is no longer a candidate for the head coaching job. Epstein did the honorable thing, too, by calling Sandberg directly after Quade’s dismissal and informing him he would not be considered. As a lifelong fan of the Cubs, I can now say that, without a doubt, owner Tom Ricketts made the right decision in hiring Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.
I am all for tradition and honoring past legends, like giving Sammy Sosa a used crappy sports car, or Andre Dawson a seat and piece of the ivy. It just gets a little old when every couple of years they roll out the members of the 1969 team that is known as “the most celebrated second-place team in the history of baseball.”
It’s embarrassing for fans; I can’t imagine it not being for the players involved. Then there is the 1984 team that made me a Cubs fan. A team that had the best record in the National League and was led by Sandberg, the league’s MVP. They failed to make it out of the first round, holding a 2-0 lead over the Padres before Steve Garvey decided to add his name to the famed Cubs’ curses.
Same with 1989. First place finish, knocked out in the first round by the Giants in five games. At least those teams won a game in the playoffs. More than you can say about the 1998, 2007 and 2008 teams that all got swept in the NLDS. Again, I am all for tradition, just not the losing kind.
Epstein was brought here for a reason. To wash away the old and bring in the new. He made a subtle, yet strong statement by letting people know this is now his team, and he isn’t going to be influenced by anyone to bring in anyone just because they are a name that people recognize. Let him bring in people he knows and trusts. People with names I don’t recognize but who are smart baseball people respected in the baseball community. Guys with track records, like new executive vice-president Jed Hoyer who helped win two World Series titles with Epstein in Boston as his right hand man. These are the guys Cubs fans should be excited about.
I hope Sandberg goes on and becomes a great head coach. I have no ill feelings towards the man. It’s just a time for change on the North Side. It’s time to create a new tradition here, the winning kind. I say trust the man and let him bring in whoever he wants. Nothing else has worked for 103 years.
So good luck Ryno, hope you find success elsewhere. And take Ronnie ‘Woo Woo’ with you.