MORRISSEY: Cubs need not rethink letting Ryne Sandberg go
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2013 9:56PM
Updated: September 18, 2013 6:13AM
Now that the Philadelphia Phillies have named Ryne Sandberg their interim manager, I’m sure some Cubs fans are saying, ‘‘I told you so.’’ But that would be an appropriate response only if the Cubs had announced to the world that Sandberg would never be a big-league manager. They just said he wasn’t for them.
The reason fans wanted Ryno as skipper here had to do with nostalgia, which is the recognized currency in Wrigleyville. Remember how good Ryno was in 1984 and 1990? Remember his two-home-run game against the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bruce Sutter? People get wistful just thinking about the Cubs’ Hall of Fame second baseman.
The Phillies replaced Charlie Manuel with Sandberg on Friday, and like a trade that benefits both teams, this move was good for both the Phillies and the Cubs.
But it was best for Sandberg.
If Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had caved in to fan pressure and named Sandberg manager before last season, poor Ryno would be in the middle of the mess the franchise finds itself in now. He would be knee-deep in what Dale Sveum finds himself in. It’s why Sveum would be better off wearing fishing waders instead of spikes. It’s why if Sveum survives this, it will be a miracle. Count your blessings, Ryne.
No one is saying Sandberg is inheriting a fun-filled pool party in Philadelphia. At the time Manuel was let go, the Phillies had lost 19 of their previous 23 games. It’s going to be a tough job for Sandberg, but he has won everywhere he has been as a minor-league manager.
What irritated many of us was the idea that it was somehow preordained the Cubs job was Sandberg’s once he decided he wanted to be a manager. And I’m sure the idea irritated Cubs management over the years. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it. And just because fans wearing oversized Harry Caray frames wanted Ryno, so what?
Will Sandberg be a good manager at the big-league level? Part of that has to do with how much talent the Phillies have. Going into their game Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they were 20½ games out of first place in the National League East. But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. surely will be looking at how Sandberg, private and soft-spoken as a player, communicates with his troops.
The Sandberg situation had been a trap for the Cubs. Don’t hire him and you look like you’re trampling team history. Hire him and you don’t really know what you’re getting as a manager. Worse, you could have a fan uprising on your hands if their beloved favorite doesn’t work out.
The Cubs did not miss the boat in letting Sandberg go. They waved as the boat sailed away. It was the right move.