Cubs manager Mike Quade in the dugout during the Chicago White Sox vs.Chicago Cubs game three of the Crosstown Classic Wednesday June 22, 2011 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: September 24, 2011 12:20AM
There are definitely times when Cubs manager Mike Quade sounds more ‘‘Mayberry R.F.D.’’ than ‘‘North Side of Chicago.’’ A few ‘‘gollys’’ now and then will do that.
But every so often, Quade, who played almost every position besides pitcher while coming up in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor-league system in the early ’80s, will throw a 12-6 curveball. He’ll drop four ‘‘damns’’ in a 30-second period, as he did Wednesday.
Aunt Bee that!
It’s not the cursing level of White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen, for whom F-bombs are nouns, verbs and adjectives, but Quade isn’t the choirboy he has been painted to be.
Not that Cubs fans care one way or the other about that. What Cubbie Nation wants to know is, can this guy manage? Is Quade the face for the rest of this season and beyond as the franchise begins to reinvent itself, post-Ricketts family purchase?
That’s a gray area — a very large gray area hanging over a franchise that has more questions about its future than answers.
Chairman Tom Ricketts last week stood behind Quade as the man for the job. It was a nice gesture, but not one Quade was necessarily looking for.
‘‘Oh, whatever,’’ Quade said. ‘‘It’s nice to have people say nice stuff about you. [Someone asked me] ‘Did you need one?’ I don’t think so. We all appreciate someone supporting you, especially with our ownership now. . . . If you go through tough times and you don’t have the support of your people, those tough times get a lot tougher.’’
Where it gets interesting with Quade is when he’s asked to assess himself — to put a letter grade on what’s now a 30-44 record after a second consecutive loss to the White Sox in the cross-town rivalry.
‘‘You handle the situations the best you can and come to work hard every day, so no, I don’t get involved in that stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s what you guys do anyway, right? Nah, I don’t worry about it.
‘‘I understand a lot of reasons why we haven’t been [better], and they’re out there factually for everyone to see. Then I understand mistakes that we’ve made that haven’t allowed us to win ballgames that we could.’’
Some of those mistakes are admittedly on Quade. What’s ‘‘out there factually for everyone to see’’ is that the expectations for the Cubs at the start of the year weren’t that high in the first place. Then factor in nine players on the 15-day disabled list at one point or another.
You want to see Quade fight the good fight, but you can’t judge him for being forced to bring a Swiss Army knife to a gunfight.
His players like him, but this isn’t a popularity contest. Much of the pro-Cubs media likes him. What doesn’t like him right now are the National League Central standings.
Baseball is a pass/fail business. Sure, there are different circumstances that come into play and have to be considered, but the win-loss record is the résumé for a major-league manager. What Quade did at the end of last season was nice, leading the Cubs to a 24-13 finish after Lou Piniella’s departure, but it was in a non-pressure situation. This year, this team has shrunk under the pressure, injuries or not.
So why should the Cubs keep him? Think about it. What big-name, high-profile manager would want this job right now?
It’s a reclamation project. There’s not a manager alive or dead who would have this team contending this year.
No, Quade is the right man for the job right now. Beyond that, he’s a wait-and-see.
‘‘There are all kind of things that happen in this game that are out of my control, the players’ control, and I’m not that interested in,’’ Quade added. ‘‘We have 95 games or so to go, so we’ll see how we do from here on.’’
Golly, sounds like a fair plan to me.