It wasn’t an easy call yesterday for Jim Hendry.
The Chicago Cubs’ General Manager had made his decision, and his gut told him that the next manager for the team was Mike Quade. That meant Hendry had to call up a Cubs legend, and tell him he wasn’t getting the job.
“Ryne Sandberg, as great a player as he was, he’s just as good a human being, and it wasn’t an easy call to make [Tuesday] morning,” Hendry told the Sun-Times. ”I’ve grown to really like Ryno the last three, four years. What he did going to the minor leagues and the way he carried himself was very, very good. He’s a Cub icon.”
”And he’s disappointed,” Hendry continued. “He was tremendously classy [Tuesday] morning. I’m sure, like a lot of people, you feel like your heart’s set on that. At the same time, he handled it great. And over time, I hope that he certainly will be a Cub in some capacity forever.”
For his part, Sandberg says he’s going to seek an opportunity outside of the organization with which he became a star and then a humble minor league manager.
“I just digest [the decision] today and just kind of change my focus and change my way of thinking a little bit,” Sandberg told the Sun-Times, ”and see if there’s another opportunity out there somewhere to manage at the major-league level or coach at the major-league level.”
The timing of the decision to name Mike Quade manager seems odd, given that the Cubs appeared intent on waiting out the New York Yankees’ run in the playoffs so that the Cubs could interview the Yankees’ manager, Joe Girardi. Indeed, that was almost certainly the plan as recently as Monday.
But the Cubs must have heard through the grapevine that, even after his run in the playoffs was over, Girardi wasn’t going to come to the Cubs. Knowing that, Hendry made his decision quickly: the man who’d led the Cubs over the final months of the 2010 season would continue to lead them, and the Cubs legend would be let down.
And that’s probably exactly what the Cubs wanted.
The team knew that Ryne Sandberg would wait on them forever. It was his dream to manage the Chicago Cubs, and if the club wanted to hold him in abeyance while they waited out Girardi, he’d have been happy to sit tight. But once Girardi fell out of the picture, there was no reason to keep Sandberg waiting while other opportunities filled up.
This was already a concern of Sandberg’s. “With the intensity of the Cubs’ search and being a finalist there, I think that could have detracted some [outside interest],” Sandberg said. “We’ll see if that’s the case or not.”
If Sandberg wasn’t going to be the guy for the Cubs – and we should all feel free to debate that point – no one can say the team did him wrong. He’ll now have a full and fair chance to explore the other managerial openings around the game, or to find a coaching job where he won’t constantly face questions about supplanting his boss.
When the Chicago Cubs selected Mike Quade to manage the team in 2011, they simultaneously told a Cubs legend to take a hike.
Here’s hoping Ryne Sandberg winds up somewhere great. And then, well, comes back some day.