The Stew, apologetically, is a Cubs fan. The Been has been geographically linked to the St. Louis Cardinals since birth. That’s the kind of ying and yang balance you need to create such a satisfactory blog (1000 hits as of today, no big deal).
If one exists, The Stew is a realistic Cubs fan. In my opinion the Cubs are basically doing exactly what I expected of them this year when I saw their roster. On paper they looked to be a .500 ball club at best and I’m not going to sit at a bar barking about how I’ve never seen them play this bad in my life.
I would have to assume that most people saw the announcement of Lou Piniella’s retirement, but it appears it was a surprise to some. To me it was somewhat evident this year, the last year of Piniella’s contract, that the Cubs were losing steam and are probably ready to begin a semi-rebuilding effort. That’s probably not something a 66 year old Piniella wants to trudge through.
The Cubs franchise is at a pretty big crossroads. Piniella did an above average job during his Cubs years although some opined that he may have lost some of his fire for the game. I tend to disagree with that sentiment. Just because the guy isn’t leading the league in ejections doesn’t mean he’s not putting his heart into managing a winning ball club. People usually calm during their 60s and I’m sure Lou is no different. Jim Hendry has said that a new manager won’t be hired or announced until after the season. With the Cubs already about 10 games back in the NL Central I believe that letting Lou try to pull off a miracle is better than the alternative. Managing isn’t the problem with the 2010 Cubs anyways.
So where do the Cubs go from here? The cupboard is far from bare and the farm system isn’t teeming with talent but it’s there. It’s possible, with the right hire, that 2010 could become more of a hiccup than a full blown collapse back to the mediocre Cubs of the ’90s.
As a Cubs fan, I’d like to submit this open letter to the Cubs’ front office concerning my endorsement as Lou Piniella’s successor:
Dear Cubs Hiring Manager,
In the wake of Manager Lou Piniella’s announcement regarding his retirement, I hear you’re in the market for a new manager. As said on ESPN Radio current AAA Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg says, “I am ready.”
Now, as a Cubs fan, I of course endorse Sandberg’s candidacy. He’s quite the franchise beacon, isn’t he? Most will be calling for his hire just because he’s the only one fair weather Cubs fans/historians will have heard of. But being of sane and rational mind I would like to submit my reasons for backing Ryne Sandberg as the next Cubs skipper.
I am not a political person at heart. I’m generally apathetic but I would like to make a political analogy at the risk of starting an unrelated debate.
Fredi Gonzalez is the only rumored candidate right now in addition to Sandberg. While Gonzalez has proven that he can manage adequately at the MLB level, it’s not like he has a resume that would make a GM blush.
As myself and other Cubs fans hobble towards 103 championship-less years, all I’m really searching for with this hire is one thing; Hope. As the relying cry for current President and Chicago politician Barack Obama, he won an election with the promise of hope. While I’m sure John McCain would have done a fine job running the country, his appointment would not have resonated as profoundly with a beleaguered American people.
And that is where I believe Cubs nation stands at this moment. It has been 102 years since the last WS win. It was campy and a great marketing opportunity during the 100th year anniversary of “This is the year”, but for me and many other Cubs fans it’s no longer a joke at all. At some point people will give up on the franchise and that time is beginning to come to fruition.
The hiring of someone like Fredi Gonzalez or his equal would most likely work satisfactorily. But does it inspire a fan base that is becoming more and more just a group of drunken frat boys and fake baked blondes whose only connection to the franchise is a picture on Facebook of them drinking Old Style in front of the Wrigley Field entrance?
The Cubs have almost completely evolved into a Cardinals fan joke and a tourist attraction (Wrigley), if not already. Real fans need a glimmer of hope and a Sandberg hire could do that.
Sandberg hasn’t managed at the major league level yet, but comes into interviews with a 1st place Iowa Cubs team and 3 winning seasons in 4 managing in the Cubs minor league system. A career record of 255-259 isn’t going to jump off the page but wins and losses at the minor league level aren’t hardly as important as player development.
The Cubs are posed to get a lot younger at the MLB level sooner rather than later. Many future Cubs will have been managed by Sandberg at some point during their ascent to the majors. There’s something to be said about comfort with your boss. Sandberg will also be more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of said players and how to best utilize talent. Plus, it just looks good on the outside to hire within the company.
One would have to think Sandberg would manage with a special sense of pride towards the organization he starred with as a player. He played almost his entire career as a Cub and judging by his quotes he wants the job more than just the paycheck. Though that’s probably just the Cubs fan in me making my own conclusions.
So that is my lengthy case for Ryne Sandberg as the next manager for the Chicago Cubs. He is the only candidate that will create any type of stir with real Cubs fans searching for a reason to be optimistic.
I mean, what’s the risk of hiring a manager with no experience at the big league level? It’s already been 102 years after-all.