Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bye, Ryne

Ryne Sandberg has left the Cubs' organization and there have been some huge disparities in people's reactions. Actually, it seems that a lot of people are mad about it, but for different reasons. For simplicity, I've boiled them down to three general reactions that all end by changing to anger:

Reaction 1 - Disbelief:

I can't believe the Cubs have dissed Ryne Sandberg in favor of Mike Quade.  As a Hall of Famer he deserves better.  Hendry can go die.

These people are mad because it is assumed that the Cubs led Sandberg on in sending him to the minors and made some sort of de facto promise that he would be next in line when Lou left.  That's a pretty big assumption considering we don't know what was said at any given time between the parties.

If that is how it happened, then, yes, Sandberg got screwed, but I doubt anybody actually promised Sandberg anything.  He was told he didn't have enough experience and they offered him positions within the organization to gain some experience.  Given that nobody was banging down Sandberg's door at the time to have him manage in their systems, the Cubs weren't under any obligation to do that for him, but they did.  Any assumptions that Sandberg, the fans, or the press made based on that are just that without having access to the conversations that Hendry and any other members of the Cubs had with Sandberg.

But even if Hendry came right out and said, "you'll be the front-runner for the managing position when Lou leaves if you show us some success in the minor leagues," that was four years ago.  Stuff changes in four years.  I once got a job where my boss in Tennessee told me he was building up an office in Chicago, so I went about the business of working on his accounts and setting us up to get additional accounts to grow the office.  Then my boss resigned less than a year later and took his accounts with him to his own company in Tennessee.  Suddenly, I had no clients and thus no job at that company in Chicago.  I don't think my boss had intentions of lying to me when he hired me, but circumstances changed and I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Maybe Hendry had every intention of hiring Ryne.  Maybe Quade threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing by doing so well with the team while it was in freefall and Hendry suddenly had a viable candidate that he liked better.  That isn't Ryne's fault, but things changed.  That's life and it isn't always fair.

Reaction 2 - Pity:

Poor Ryne, I hope he gets a great job with another team and he shows the Cubs what a HUGE FUCKING MISTAKE THEY MADE!!

The people who pity Ryne seem to think he would be a better manager than Mike Quade.  Again, we have no idea how good a manager he is.  He had some success, but so did Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella (at the major league level) before coming to the Cubs and everyone was ready to tar and feather both of them by the end.  Sandberg was PCL Manager of the year in 2010.  Quade was in 2008.

Sandberg was a better player than Quade ever hoped to be, but I don't ever remember people talking about Ryne Sandberg as a player who would someday make a great manager.  People used to talk about Joe Girardi's knowledge of the game or Greg Maddux being a great student of the game.  Sandberg was a hard worker and a leader by example.  Ryan Theriot is reportedly a hard worker and I definitely don't want Theriot managing any team of mine.  Derrek Lee led by example, but is he ever mentioned as a future manager?  I just don't know why it is suddenly so offensive that Sandberg simply wasn't qualified (or more qualified than Quade) for the managerial position.

Don Mattingly isn't managing the Yankees.  He had to go to the Dodgers to get a managing gig.  Kirk Gibson is in Arizona instead of Los Angeles or Detroit.  Cecil Cooper had to go to Houston to get a managing gig instead of getting a spot with the Brewers.  The last player of note that I've seen get a job with the team he is associated with as a player is Ozzie Guillen with the White Sox in 2004.

The last time a Hall of Fame player got a job as a manager was when Tony Perez had a 44 game stint with the Reds in 1993.  He didn't manage again until 2001 (and that was with the Marlins).  Larry Doby was a Hall of Fame player who got a gig with the White Sox in 1978, but he was better known as a Cleveland Indian, and he lasted 87 games.  There isn't much historical success by Hall of Fame players in a managerial capacity.

Major League baseball teams just don't even seem to hire their renowned players (and especially their Hall of Fame players) for managing jobs, so I don't know why the Cubs would suddenly owe Sandberg that chance when so few other teams give their former stars the big office.  They usually get jobs as team ambassadors or Vice Presidents of Showing Up to Events and Waving to Fans.  They don't fill out lineup cards every day and determine how to use the bullpen.

Further evidence that other teams outside of the Cubs share the opinion that Sandberg may not be ready can be found in his lack of interviews for any of the other managing jobs with other teams.  I haven't even seen his name mentioned as a bench coach anywhere else except from Ozzie Guillen and you can't take anything he says at 100% face value, especially when irritating the Cubs and their fans is involved.

None of this means that Sandberg couldn't be a great manager.  He very well could be, but there is nothing in his make-up as a player nor his experience that makes that as much of a slam dunk as a lot of people seem to think.  If the Cubs had made such a gigantic mistake, Sandberg wold have been snatched up by someone else by now, or at least given an interview.

Reaction 3 - Offended:

So Ryne didn't get the job and he just quits?  Again?  I'm GLAD he didn't get the job.  Good luck finding a another job now, asshole.

I've seen unverified reports that he was offered the bench coach position and turned it down.  The Cubs indicated that he could have returned to Iowa to keep building his resume and he declined.  I don't know if any of that is true, but even if it is, should it matter to us that Sandberg turned those jobs down?

I understand his being disappointed in not getting the managing job, but I don't understand why he would take his ball and go home at the first obstacle that has come his way in achieving his new goal of managing in the majors.  That can't look good to other teams looking at filling their major league coaching staffs, plus he isn't going to get any more qualified sitting at home and stewing about how the Cubs screwed him.  But that doesn't make any difference to my life.

Maybe there have been conversations with other clubs that haven't been made public.  I hope so for his sake, because just walking away isn't going to do him any good, but I'm not going to hold a grudge against him because he decided, rightly or wrongly, that this was his best next move.

Good luck, Ryne.


Anonymous said...

Quade didn't win PCL manager of the year in 2008.. he was with the Cubs at that point. However, he DID win minor league manager of the year TWICE during his time there. The people saying Ryno deserves the job because of his minor league success don't have much of an argument.

Ryno probably should have taken the bench coach job, or stayed in Iowa. To think that 4 years in the minors and a big name automatically means you deserve a major league managing job, especially one as high profile and high pressure as Chicago... it's crazy.

Like you, I don't dislike Ryno, and never will. I would rather him coach in another organization, than be our manager at this point.

Aisle 424 said...

Good lord, what the hell is wrong with me? I don't know where the 2008 came from. He won it in 1993 in AAA (1991 in AA). Good catch. Thanks!

My podcast buddy, Adam Kellog has a good post at And Counting about Ryno's experience versus other major league managers currently employed. Sandberg probably had enough experience to justify the hire, but if he wasn't the best man, he wasn't the best man.

Quade has plenty of credentials on top of his finish to justify his getting the job as well. Someone had to get screwed in this scenario. It happened to be Sandberg.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't necessarily think 4 years in the minors isn't enough. But to me, it seems like Ryno assumed it would definitely be enough. And I also don't believe he was ever promised anything. Even when he was first hired for A ball, Hendry acted like he was doing Ryno a favor by giving him the job. The media and fans always believed he was being groomed to be the next manager. I never believed he was. I believed he would get a chance, but never thought he was a manager in waiting.

Since I tweet as @Fakesweetlou, I had insight into the managerial process of the Cubs. lol

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