I'm not a general sports fan. Loved basketball when it was a real game, before it became a thuggish wrestling match. But since then? Nothing. Now, living in the Chicago area, you can't operate in a sports vacuum, you will invariably hear what is happening (well, for the most part. I didn't realize the Hawks had won the championship until a week or two afterwards, didn't even notice the rally. I think I'm the only person in the Chicago area who didn't get his picture taken with the Stanley Cup). My baseball history is limited. I grew up with two Cubs fans for parents. I became a Sox fan. Bill Veeck was my man. He was fun. He was genuine. He was the guy you wanted to invite to your party. Anyone who has his wooden leg modified to include a flip-out ashtray, you gotta love. When Veeck was forced to sell the team, my enthusiasm waned quickly. To this day, I refuse to forgive anyone for forcing Veeck out (had the Sox hired his kid, I might have been persuaded).
The insurrection against Veeck was the day baseball became SRIUS BIZNSS. Sports teams have acquired legend status, with huge stadiums set up that have nothing to do with baseball, promotions that have nothing to do with baseball, players acquiring legend status...it became a franchised Olympus, and the players, manager, owners, became gods.
As a result, when I see someone who truly loves the game, who lives and breathes the stuff, and his dreams burst like an egg in a microwave...it hurts. It really hurts. Having had a lot of my dreams get shredded, I know the feeling. I don't wish it on anyone.
The Chicago Cubs have different nicknames. They are the Lovable Losers (part of the reason I could never be a Cubs fan. I don't want a team you expect to lose, I want a team that wants to win). It's also "Where careers go to die." The Cubs can have great talent and they'll piss it away. I don't blame Steve Bartman for the Cubs collapse (besides, he wasn't the one who reached out for the ball). Good teams recover. Instead, the Cubs played sloppy afterwards and blew the playoffs. The team quit on Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella. Kerry Wood. Mark Prior. Carlos Zambrano is such a nut case, he could be his own jock strap. And the park is still packed and the team loved. They haven't accomplished anything.
Ryne Sandberg is a Cubs legend. He's a whiz with baseball knowledge. He knows talent and how to develop it. His nickname is "Mr. Cub". Four years ago, he expressed an interest in managing the Cubs. General Manager Jim Hendry suggested Sandberg get some experience. Sandberg went to Triple-A Iowa. Last year, he was voted International Manager Of The Year.
Yesterday, Hendry announced the Cubs new manager was....
...Mike Quade, a friend of Hendry.
Sandberg just wasted four years of his life just to get the door slammed in his face.
Quade took over when Pinella finally decided he had enough and walked. Quade finished the season with a 24-13 record. That's pretty good until you realize 1) that came after the Cubs were eliminated from any postseason and 2) people treat fill-in bosses differently from regular bosses. When the season actually matters, I expect the Cubs to react as they always have. Let's see hm 1) bench Aramis Ramirez for watching everything but the ball and 2) the team not revolt for it, THEN I'll believe he's the real deal.
Sandberg is too much of a class act to lash out. He simply wished Quade well and said he was considering options. It's possible this is just a treading water move. Quade's contract is only for two years, and it's cheap, so they could chuck him at any time (how's that for job security?). But I don't think Sandberg is putting much faith in it.
It's good to be the king. It's even better to be the king's buddy.