Dave McKay will rejoin Cardinals for a day
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 12, 2012 9:38PM
Steve Clevenger of the Cubs connects for a double in the third inning at Wrigley Field Thursday, April 12, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: May 14, 2012 8:22AM
If the Cubs don’t like what they see from across the field when the St. Louis Cardinals receive their World Series rings Friday, they can blame themselves.
“I think [we] should be more pissed off [than motivated] because we could have knocked them out of the playoffs,’’ said Matt Garza, whose Cubs lost seven of nine in St. Louis last year, including four one-run games.
There was Jeff Samardzija giving up a game-winning home run to Albert Pujols in the 12th inning. There was Carlos Marmol allowing the tying hit to Ryan Theriot in an extra-inning loss, after which Carlos Zambrano said “We stinks.’’ There was Starlin Castro getting leveled by Matt Holliday’s ire-raising takeout slide that ignited a Cardinals comeback.
The Cardinals, who clinched a wild-card berth on the final day of the season, don’t make the playoffs without every one of those ugly Cubs finishes.
Dave McKay, the first-year Cubs coach and 23-year Tony La Russa lieutenant in Oakland and St. Louis, preached that to his new charges from Day 1 in spring training: “If we don’t break that [potential double play by Castro] up, we don’t win that game. If we don’t win that game, we don’t win a world championship.’’
Friday, he unintentionally gets a chance to drive the point home when he takes part in the Cardinals’ ring ceremony and unfurling of their championship banner.
“The only difference is I’ll be wearing blue and they’ll be wearing red,’’ said McKay, who said he’s looking forward to returning to the place he coached the last 16 years. “I hope we can go in and put on a good showing.’’
McKay, 62, said he’s working on his next ring now.
“I like where I’m at,’’ he said. “I gave those guys everything I had for 16 years, so I hope they appreciate that. I plan on giving the Cubs everything I’ve got for as long as I’m here. I have a lot of energy. I can still do a lot of things I need to do.’’
Not that he expected to be going to Chicago when La Russa confided in him, pitching coach Dave Duncan and a few others in his inner circle of his postseason retirement plans.
McKay said he remembers a newspaper story he read at that time quoting Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts on some of the things the Cubs wanted to do as they ramped up the search for a new general manager.
“Dave Duncan and I were talking about that,” McKay said. “We were saying out of fear, these guys are going to get good, these guys are going to start getting better fast.”
It wasn’t until he got a call from Cubs managerial candidate Pete Mackanin last fall that McKay began to envision being part of that process. By the time Dale Sveum got the job over Mackanin, Sveum was told through mutual friends that McKay had interest. The Cubs’ new manager acted quickly.
McKay’s closest contact with Sveum previously was when Sveum played for the Athletics in 1993. He was released in June.
“I was part of the crew that cut him,” McKay said, smiling. “He brought that up [during their interview]. He might have brought me over her just so he could fire me.”
NOTES: Slumping center fielder Marlon Byrd (zero hits in his last 19 at-bats) got a “breather” on the bench Thursday. Sveum said the veteran will be back in the lineup Friday.
◆ The Cubs went 7-for-50 (.140) with men in scoring position in the first six games of the season, a problem that Sveum brought up before the game. Then the Cubs went 7-for-12 in those situations Thursday.