WOO!! Almost 4th place!
Who wouldn't enjoy a .649 winning percentage? Baseball teams that win 65% of their games but still hate their manager are few and far between now that Billy Martin is dead. Plus, (and I think this is what is really bugging me) every time a player lauds how great Quade is to play for, I feel like they are giving the finger to Lou Piniella, and that's just wrong.
I understand that Lou was asking a lot of his rookie pitchers when he said, "Don't walk people." He may not have been clear, so he would follow up with them by telling them to "Throw fucking strikes." Sometimes he would make Larry Rothschild walk out to the mound (looking like he hasn't been able to take a crap since Riggleman left) to remind a pitcher to "For the love of God, throw motherfucking strikes."
So maybe when the rookie pitcher proceeded to walk everyone in the ballpark before throwing a batting practice fastball down the middle of the plate to some crappy rookie named Drew Stubbs and saw the ball get launched the ball into orbit, Lou got a little curmudgeony. What Lou didn't understand is that the pitcher's inability to throw a ball anywhere near the plate was merely a cry for attention and maybe a hug.
I guess Quade gives a lot of hugs? He promises candy and ice cream to pitchers who don't walk batters with a one-run lead? Maybe the pitchers who can retire the side in order get a pony?
Maybe when Koyie Hill turned his back on a base-runner and Justin Berg didn't bother to cover home plate, Lou threatened to castrate them so as to prevent them from ever passing on their baseball incompetence to an innocent child. Lord knows that's what I would have wanted to do.
Maybe in the last game when Koyie Hill tried to pick up a rolling ball that looked to be heading foul, bobbled it, fell down, and then threw it into foul territory allowing a runner to score from second because he was halfway up the line on his ass and no one was covering home (again), he expected to have Mike Quade waiting for him with a weed-whacker in hand.
But may in contrast to Lou's heavy-handed insistence on not absolutely sucking, Quade instead told a nice fable called The Fox and the Slowly Hit Ball, where the moral of the story is to let the ball go foul, and if you think the ball isn't going to go foul and you pick it up, don't drop it, but if you do drop it and then fall down and lose all chance of getting the out at first, don't throw the ball into the runner's back where the first baseman has no chance, but if you do throw it into the runner's back and it ends up behind first in foul territory and a runner is trying to score from second, get your ass back to home plate instead of flailing away on your rear end. It is a classic tale that is sure to be turned into a major motion picture trilogy (in 3D!) and more importantly, Koyie learned a valuable lesson without having to lose another appendage to a power tool.
It earned Koyie's endorsement:
''I don't think it's a secret that everybody in the clubhouse, speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, would like to see Quade get the job,'' Hill said.
Aramis Ramirez also chimed in with a personal endorsement as well:
''I don't know how much better anybody could do than what he did,'' said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who noted the compromised roster Quade inherited after trades of Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot.
Nevermind that it is entirely possible that the Cubs were better off without three of those guys whose names don't rhyme with Schmed Philly.
Ryan Dempster loves him so much he won't shut up about what a great job Quade has done:
In addition to the personal and communication skills, ''Q does as good a job during the game as any manager I've ever had,'' Dempster said.
Quade managed an expanded roster with what seemed like eight billion players that all went to the DeRosa school of sexy stubble. It is virtually impossible to run out of players in September without your manager being a complete dumbass.
The starting pitcher is getting lit in the 2nd inning? Go get him and let the twelve Justin Bergs and James Russellses finish out the game as you use a pinch hitter every time the spot comes around in the batting order.
Defensive replacements are everywhere you look. A Sam Fuld here, a Darwin Barney there. It really isn't hard when you have the entire Iowa roster on top of your normal allotment of guys to have decent in-game strategy. There is no need, in a lost season, to think too much about whether you should bring in Marmol for the fourth day in a row after a combined ninety pitches in his last three outings or whether you give Cashner a shot to close once.
What it comes down to is a fairly simple formula:
Players love winning + Quade won a lot = Players love Quade
The problem is that the fans, the media, and now the players all seem to be looking at how the Cubs finished off the season and marveling at how this could possibly be the same team that was on pace to lose 96 games when Quade took over. I'll agree that the little post-season surge sure was nice and everyone really loves Quade, but I keep thinking of this scene:
My fear is that he's the 2010 version of Gary Gaetti.