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ryne sandberg philliesAmong the handful of reasons that I was not in favor of Ryne Sandberg getting the Chicago Cubs’ managerial gig before the 2012 season (or the previous year), I was not looking forward to the idea that Sandberg – a Cubs fan legend – would steward what was likely to be a flailing club, leading to a probably-ugly dismissal after a couple years (not unlike what happened to the guy who actually did get the job). As we saw with Dale Sveum, when you’re in a situation where the team isn’t winning, everything that happens is under the microscope, especially in a media market like Chicago. Every little flap would have been a huge story, and the resulting tarnish may not have easily been polished off. Call me a romantic, but I think it’s nice for a team’s heroes to stay their heroes (even if the relationship is presently frayed).

Against that backdrop, I was very nervous for Sandberg to be named the manager of an aging, erratically-constructed Phillies roster this offseason. Yes, I was thrilled for Sandberg, but I don’t want to see him get blasted on a daily basis (Philly ain’t an easy town, either) for ticky-tack stuff when the real issue is that he’s got a crummy, expensive roster to work with.

The controversy is starting already. Phillies veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins – something of a leader on the team – was benched for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday’s Grapefruit League games, and Rollins believes it’s because he said “who cares” in response to a question about his early Spring struggles. Rollins was referring to the fake nature of Spring games (so he’s got me there), but he suspects his manager didn’t take kindly to his showing indifference to the games. (For his part, Sandberg said he was just trying to give Rollins some time off and get a good look at his backup.)

Rollins turned to the media, noting that he didn’t know for sure why he’d been benched, and was just waiting for Sandberg to speak to him about it. Apparently that conversation happened yesterday, with Sandberg telling reporters that he wanted Rollins to clarify his comment, and confirm that he wasn’t speaking for the Phillies when he said, “who cares.”

In the end, it’s the kind of things that will blow over. But, even if it does, and even if Rollins was probably right about the point he was trying to make (and even if Sandberg probably should have spoken with Rollins about it sooner than three days later), this is just an example of what things could be like for Sandberg all year long with that Phillies team. I just can’t see how it will win a lot of games, and Sandberg – in his first big league managerial gig – is going to have to be the face of the struggles.

  • Khross

    Why the hell would they even take it to the media in the first place. All that does is make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Friggen drama

  • jadebuddha

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/7HHprW4.jpg[/img]

    If I can’t practice, I can’t practice man. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. I mean … simple as that. It ain’t about that… I mean it’s… It’s not about that… At all. You know what I’m saying I mean… But it’s…it’s easy … to, to talk about… It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about practice. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? … And we talking about practice. I know I supposed to be there. I know I’m supposed to lead by example… I know that… And i’m not.. I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do… But we’re talking about practice man. What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man. [laughter from the media crowd] We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game. [more laughter] We’re talking about practice, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about practice right now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d29VsG35DQM

  • Khross

    OMG…I lost so many IQ points reading that I think I’m in the negative

    • FFP

      I could only read the first line or two. (I probably started a lot of IQ points lower than you did.)

  • bbmoney

    I hope they goes well for Ryno, because I love(d) him. But yeah….I’m not optimistic about it going well for him.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Phillies are a trainwreck and going backwards. Sandberg stepped into a no-win situation. But I like how he is dealing with prima donna “entitlement mentality” veterans.

    • Eric

      By being stubborn and childish?

      • Canadian Cubs Fan

        We don’t know the context of Rollins comments. And if it was said in the presence of young, impressionable players that are part of the Phillies long term plans, then damn right I’d nip it right away.

        Rollins going to the media was weak, and kind of forced Sandberg to do the same.

        • Eric

          If what was said? How is it ok we assume Rollins is the “entitlement prick” without assuming maybe Ryno is the one being a child about something that maybe wasn’t even worth over reacting to? Why can we say well Rollins was weak because he talked to the media (which by the way, if he was asked about it what do you want him to do shut up?) Why isn’t what Sandberg did considered “weak”? He benched a dude and is too much of a chicken to even talk face to face with him in his office. Like hes FUCKING SUPPOSED to do, as a manager. He’s a grown ass fucking man, he should act like one.

          • CubsFaninMS

            [responding to your last sentence]

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Ryno is a heterosexual. Or were you referring to his wife’s?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      How was Rollins stating the simple fact that ST is not the same as real baseball “entitlement mentality”? Rollins is absolutely correct: how a team’s batting (or pitching) performs in ST does not predict how it will do once the regular season starts. (Now, whether this aging Phils team will be able to perform well is yet another question: but this ST doesn’t address that question because ST performance doesn’t predict regular season performance.)

      • Revery

        The way you answered is the way to answer. Communicating a disconnect in ST statistical analysis was the way to go. Simply “Who Cares?”, as I am the man even if I hit .000, is entitlement mentality.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          heh, well, although Rollins seems like a pretty bright guy (he’s got a sharp wit, at any rate), I would be surprised if he is educated enough in statistics to phrase it like that. (Just yesterday, some of us here were lamenting the fact that basic stats and probability is not part of basic educational curricula, never mind that for baseball players.)

          The more important point that some people are missing is that Rollins is not talking about why he should be allowed to start despite a bad spring. He’s telling people that the facts that he, Howard, Utley, Brown, etc., are having bad springs means nothing. Once real games begin, Rollins thinks that they’ll start playing normally: and history is on his side there. (Rollins could, of course, note the physiological effects of added adrenaline, etc.: but, again, most ballplayers don’t talk like that.)

          • mjhurdle

            Maybe Rollins should just play Spring Training with more ‘confidence’, then his stats would be better.
            :)

  • itzscott

    The tea leaves tell me that Sveum & Renteria are basically the disposable warm bodies that in reality are nothing more than managerial placeholders while the prospects filter up to the Cubs and the new core is firmly in place.

    In the meantime, Ryne Sandberg is pretty much in the same role with the Phillies, but getting the valuable experience he needed.

    By the time the Cubs have their core in place, Sandberg will be fired and he will become the next Cub manager to grow with a young team and take it to the next level.

    Happy ending.

    • Jon

      I would wager a good amount that Sandberg never gets an interview with this FO. Just too many philosophical differences.

      My prediction, with a weaking farm system think the Rays are going to have to do another rebuild in a couple of years. Would Maddon survive that? I bet Theo would poach him in a second.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Maddon is one of the few managers that I think actually makes a positive difference. I’d love to see him on the Cubs. (Anybody who bats a catcher leadoff because he has the highest OBP in the lineup gets my vote, or at least my consideration!)

        • jh03

          What if the manager hit said catcher second during home games, because he wanted to give him ample time to remove his gear and warm up before he hit in the bottom half? Would that be okay? /s

      • baldtaxguy

        “My prediction, with a weaking farm system think the Rays are going to have to do another rebuild in a couple of years. Would Maddon survive that? ”

        Yep, not even close.

        • Jon

          If Ordozzi sticks in majors what do they have 1-2 guys in the top 100(all pitchers). They have nothing position player wise. They will get a boost from trading Price, but they are also weaking their major league roster.

          • baldtaxguy

            Yes, they are.

          • JacqueJones

            Ya I suppose if you just ignore that they have some of the best young players in the game, their future is pretty bleak. Wil Myers, and Evan Longoria will be position player staples for a long time. Add the rotation full of young and good arms like Cobb, Archer, and Moore. And of course they’ll probably get two more top 50 prospects for Price. Add in the excellent GM and you’ve got a team that will compete for quite a while

    • Blackhawks1963

      Bullcrap. You’re already going to write-off a well respected and intelligent baseball man in Ricky Renteria? And for what? So the Cubs can go out and hire the baseball caveman that is Ryne Sandberg because he’s a sexy hi profile name in Chicago?

      Good God. Thankfully TheoJed would throw up all over your theory as well. If you want a “celebrity” manager to make you feel good, then follow another team.

      • Boogens

        So you think Ryno is sexy?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I had girlfriends in college who thought so. But that was before Ryno lost all of his hair!

        • OlderStyle

          FWIW, my ninth grade girlfriend had posters of Dan Marino, Doug Flutie and Ryne Sandberg.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I think that DieHard’s first GF had a poster of Louis XIV.

          • Internet Random

            “FWIW, my ninth grade girlfriend . . . .”

            Sickie.

  • BABIP

    I love Ryno as a Cubs legend and all, but his managing style is just so annoyingly old school. I mean, he hired Larry Bowa as his bench coach. Have any of you heard Larry Bowa when he was on the MLB Network?

    I think Ryno can eventually be successful as a major league manager, even with this style, but you can definitely see how he wasn’t a fit in our organization.

    And I remember him talking about being made an example of when he missed a sign from Don Zimmer one time and I think that is just what he is trying to do here in Philadelphia.

  • GabeAthouse

    I wonder if Ryno would have been good or bad for Castro thus far?

    • Chef Brian

      I have to agree with you. The game is really paying by the disciplinarian, no analytics, old school coaches. Unfortunately, and I’m not saying it’s right but this new generation of young star players have to be talked to more, and handled with kid gloves or you risk losing them. The Phillies went from a player’s coach in Charlie Manuel then switched to the no B.S Sandberg. They had to know there would be pushback from a veteran team. To succeed as a coach or leader you have to be an excellent communicator. Obviously this is one incident, but now everything will be magnified like Brett said. Some coaches are better as college or minor league coaches, since that authoritative style plays better with amateur athletes. Maybe Sandberg would be better served coaching in the minors.

  • candyland07

    Sandbergh will be okay. This a man that stands by his convictions play hard,give it your best. He is a no nonsense type of individual. I doubt controversy exists in the clubhouse .Rollin made a mistake in club atmosphere and Sandbergh did what he thought was best -sit period
    I think it a good move – if there is a situation that needs some type of reprimand sometimes a subtle yet atttiude redirect is needed. In this instance a veteran misspoke on the attitude of spring training. and I would assume Sandbergh took an approach to settle and get his point across – sit.

    And as for the Cubs – I doubt Team Epstein would want any type of manager having full control of a team . This a front office team that controls the manager . Right or wrong I think this might have been a bigger part in not hiring Ryno . Ryno had the best qualification to help develop players in a rebuild. He was familiar with cubs players and he did advance in the minor leagues in a managerial and he produce results from 2007 thru 2010 he climbed the minor league and his team was succesful.

    In this instance i feel the media is reporting what happen . Rollins may feel ( insert any excuse) but he will realize. Work hard play hard.

  • mjhurdle

    I will always love Sandberg, but this is part of the reason I didn’t want him as the Cubs manager.
    Already creating a media distraction for no valid reason.
    I doubt he accomplished anything more than create a controversy be sitting Rollins.
    Rollins knows that he is starting when it matters. Sandberg knows that Rollins will start when it matters. Rollins could go to the media every day of ST and say “who cares” and Sandberg could sit him every day of ST to ‘teach him a lesson’. But at the end of the day Rollins will start as SS on Opening Day.
    A blustering attempt at a power grab over something as meaningless as a player saying that Spring Training stats aren’t that important is just not the way you want to start a season.

  • auggie

    Sandberg is just letting Rollins know that he is the manager and a not caring attitude at anytime will not be accepted. Rollins is a washed up, over-the-hill veteran. Also this story occuring on the East Coast is making it a bigger story than it is. A similar incident happened when Sveum threatened to send Rizzo and Castro down to the minors. How much publicity did that get? Were fans in Philly reading about that? I highly doubt it.

    We had to sit through two jokes of managers in Q-Ball and Sveum all because the Cubs would not hire Sandberg in the first place. Would the Cubs have won with Sandberg? No. But I believe they would be a lot better off.

  • baldtaxguy

    “Rollins’ $11 million option will vest if he makes 434 plate appearances this season.”

    This will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue.

    • C. Steadman

      If it doesn’t vest, then it’s a team option for $8million. If the team declines, then it’s a player option for $5 million.(Source:Cot’s Contracts) Certainly an interesting scenario if Rollins misses any sort of time.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    it seems to me that Sandberg was sloppy in the way he spoke about this with the media. Admittedly, I have only scratched the surface on this story. But it does seem like Ryno needs some time to figure out the differences between managing at the minor league level and managing at the major league level.

    • candyland07

      Sandbergh did not speak for two days, and then clarify only when the media jumped on the story. sloppy? who cares it got the point across. No heated arguments he let the youngster Freddy Galvis played and he evalulated and he let Garvis enthusiasm speak volumes. Rollins got the point .

      • mjhurdle

        What I don’t understand is what “point” was Rollins supposed to get? That if he says spring training stats aren’t important he will sit out fake games?
        As devastated as I am sure Rollins is, i just don’t think that anything more that a distraction was accomplished here.
        Now if Sandberg sat him out real games, then maybe that would mean something. But Rollins and Sandberg both know that isn’t going to happen.

        • candyland07

          This is Ryno first spring training as the manager and I would assume that if a player can voice that spring training games dont matter . A manager can put in a player that may feel differently and evaluate such player . According to media reports Sandbergh feels this is a non issue and has been resolved. Its not fighting match nor a he said – he said. And you are correct these game dont count in the standing , but work ethic and leadership qualities that younger players feed on sometimes do. And something tell me if Rollin continues to display this type of behavior fans may just witness rollin sit during games that do count. but like i said this escapade was a non issue for Sandbergh .The media and to a degree Mr Rollins it did.

          • mjhurdle

            I agree that Sandberg has a right to play whoever he wants. And maybe he feels that it is a non-issue.
            But a large part of managing is communicating and handling the personalities on the team.
            We can argue about whether Rollins should or should not have said what he said, but what is not in doubt is that the communication about what was happening was sorely lacking. A manager just cant act and say “well, i felt thing were fine, so if there is a problem it is all the player’s fault”. Sandberg failed at communicating why he was not playing Rollins, whatever that reason was.
            As far as the work-ethic and leadership part, I don’t think saying that anything Rollins says reflects on how he works and prepares for games, either positive or negative. And not every player is, or has to be, a leader.
            Again, the issue that I see is that Sandberg did a poor job explaining his decision to the players. If he sat Rollins because he wanted to evaluate a young player more, or because he was upset with Rollins comments, or because of something else; but he never communicated that to Rollins, which led to this whole thing. Better communication from Sandberg would have prevented any of this from happening.

            • candyland07

              I dont think so. in this instance Sandbergh managed him last year and coached him the year prior. The man sat three games for a reason . I doubt Sandbergh will get involved in any type of media frenzy and It highly doubtful that SAndbergh will change his approach to the game. As a Cub fan you should know Sandbergh personality But if you feel that after a year and half with Sandbergh in the dugout Rollin does not know what his manager expects – well i guess Ryno made it clear this spring. like i said its a non issue – that has better chance of not being repeated.

              • Patrick W.

                Why do you put the h at the end of his name?

                • candyland07

                  wow did not notice.

                • CubsFaninMS

                  Perhaps he is frustrated at Sandberg. “Ryne Sandberg-uhhh!”

  • Jon

    Jimmy Rollins, 2007…worst MVP ever?

    • C. Steadman

      I think it should’ve gone to David Wright. How’d he get zero 1st place votes?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The Met’s HMS Hood imitation in September of 2007 pretty much killed any chance of Wright (or any other Met) getting the MVP.

        • C. Steadman

          That was because of their pitching though. They still only lost the division title by one game. Heck the Phils got swept out of the playoffs by the Rockies anyways.

        • MichaelD

          Except that the Mets collapse was so late, that many voters would have voted already.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            It is true that the big culprit was the pitching. However, there were still plenty of voters in 2007 (and probably still are plenty) who would have been convinced that Wright and every other Met batter “failed” when “it counted.”

            What people missed was the 2007 Mets’ collapse was not as severe as the 2006 Mets’ collapse. The difference was that the ’06 Mets won more games than expected given their performance (due to winning a few close games) whereas the ’07 Mets won a couple of fewer games than expected given their performance. However, the old-school voters would have thought that Wright should have been able to do something about that.

    • MichaelD

      No. Not even the worst MVP won by a Phillie in the 2006-2007 time period.

      Of course there was a Phillie, Chase Utley, who had a legitimate claim to being MVP in both 2006 and 2007.

  • jeff1969

    I wish Earl Weaver was still managing. His response to Sandberg’s situation would be maybe something like, “Rollins, fucking Rollins, he wants to be our shortstop that motherfucker, but you don’t field grounders with yer mouth now do ya. Ahh, shit he’ll be alright as long as he learns to shut his fuckin mouth & remember who the fuckin manager is. Next question!” Sorry for the cursing, but I couldn’t imitate Earl without it.

  • brainiac

    for all of our major disagreements over sportsmanship at this blog: e.g., “the cubs should try and win because it’s baseball” vs “the cubs should not try to win because we’ll automatically win forever someday if we lose on purpose for a number of years” … i’m positive that we can all agree about one thing:

    ryno rules. and while spring games are expendable, heart is not. players gotta give it 100%, and ryno expects them to be as good as they are. it’s a good model, and i’m sure that we’re not hearing the entire clubhouse story.

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