Join the Cub(s): Let’s Find a Manager


Buck Showalter stepped into Baltimore a few weeks back and cracked the whip so murderously they felt the sting in Bluefield.  The talented young roster that for years had been touted as “a talented young roster” was flourishing under new management, and guys like me with their pockets full of cheap shots could do little but stand there, kick a pebble in frustration, and throw out our lists of “Orioles Suck Jokes–2011 ed.”

It is very evident now that a fresh leader in a clubhouse numb with perpetual suckage can make all the difference.  No, the O’s won’t be campaigning next season for a pennant or even a Wild Card.  They’ll probably spend the winter unable to stop smiling if they finish over .500, the chances of which are higher than they have been in years.

So as they begin stockpiling hope in Baltimore like squirrels who’ve been hibernating in failure for about a decade, what have we learned that could be applied elsewhere?

What’s good for the goose, is good for the… Cubs.

I wrote a big long pompous thing a few weeks back about how Lou Piniella retired from baseball with class after a career of skillful managing and tantric screaming.  I noted how retirement can be done wrong when somebody like a Brett Favre can’t decide which direction he wants to head in, and then logically chooses “all of them at once.”

Yes, you could very easily argue that I was just trying to stretch a topic far enough in order to include a Brett Favre hate-rant even though I write for a baseball site.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, Lou Piniella retired, and now there’s a gaping power vaccuum at the head of the Chicago Cubs management team.

Most people will tell you there are several viable candidates for the job, and those people, notably Cubs fans, will know what they are talking about when they say these things.  But I’ve decided after 15 minutes of research to compile a list of solid prospects just itching with potential to clog that 100+ year black hole of World Series celebrations on the North Side.

1.  Ryne Sandberg

Last seen: Being beloved by Chicago

Does this guy even have any qualifications to manage outside of “is beloved?”  Yes, several thousand. Even those who once stood against the legendary Cubs second-bagger are starting to come around to the notion, even if it is just based on the idea that the vote of no confidence in Jim Hendry makes any selection a fruitless venture.

The Cubs are looking (hopefully) for a guy who can scale the top of a century old garbage heap and plant a flag at the top, not be the prime target on picture day.  Being the underdog is fun and everything, when you’re in the midst of a bounce back that is, but ask around in Boston or Philly if the novelty of being a “so-close-yet-so-far” team is really an enjoyable thing after even just a few decades.

He wouldn’t be inept, obviously, the guy’s been around major league managers and been a minor league manager. But there would be a reliance on his supporting cast, and the Cubs management would become an amorphous squad of leaders.  But, but, but… they’ve tried the prolific manager thing before, once with Dusty Baker (Argh so close) and again with Lou Piniella (Argh not as close), and it didn’t work.

Joe Maddon worked 20 years to get his first pro managing gig.  Terry Francona didn’t have a fantastic track record prior to Boston.  And in retrospect from a Cubs WS trophy somewhere down the road, wouldn’t it just be perfect, story wise, for the Cubs to led to success by Ryne Sandberg?

2.  Fredi Gonzalez

Last seen:  Being fired

Yes, but consider what he was being fired for.

In my old high school, there were kids from lower income families who lived in the nearby city, and kids from wealthy families who had to drive in from the rich architecture and well groomed homes of the suburbs.  When one of the city kids was in trouble, our idiot principal would immediately expel them, accepting pats on the back for having a no tolerance policy for whatever it is they did.

When the rich kids would do something (like in one case, cheat on an exam because the teacher happened to be blind) which may in some cases have been much more morally worse (this was a Catholic school too, by the way), they would usually get quite the stern talking to and my goodness you better believe it was very very serious young man.

This concept applies to the Marlins firing of Fredi Gonzalez.  They had to choose a side after he benched Hanley Ramirez for not hustling, and instead of backing the smart play of the manager, they chose instead to not upset one of their stars and canned Gonzalez for doing his job well.

Hanley, the rich kid, emerged seemingly unscathed.

Gonzalez would be a good manager in most places, but in Chicago, where there’s been some particular dust-ups regarding attitude as of late, a guy like Fredi who will step calmly into your face and say “My name may be spelled in the ‘teenage girl version,’ but you’re riding the pine,” could come in handy.

And he would have to say that.  Exactly that.

3.  Joe Torre

Last seen:  Probably retiring

"“I refuse to say absolutes, but I think it is very, very remote that it will ever happen.” –Joe Torre on managing elsewhere"

Moving along!

4.  Joe Girardi

Last seen:  Achieving major success with a much, much better ball club

"“Asked why he thinks there has been so much speculation that he would bolt the Bronx for Chicago, Girardi didn’t have an answer.”  —New York Daily News"

Frankly, it’s pretty alarming that Girardi can talk about any of this business without just emitting an air tight, 100% commitment to the Yankees.  Leaving the door open even a hair seems like it would be grounds for cleanly-suited gentlemen with large biceps and silenced pistols to break into his house at night and break off his toenails.

“You coach da Yankees,” they’d whisper in his ear while his wife continued to sleep, oblivious.  “And don’t you fuckin’ fuggedaboutit.”

Then they would punch him 26 times in the stomach and say, “You only earned one respite from terror.”

And then they would be gone, like stars in the smog.

Seems unlikely. Why would you want to leave New York, anyway?

5.  Bonnie Hunt

Last seen:  Bringing laughter to millions

“The Cubs were a losing team, with little hope of success along the way.  The Make-a-Wish Foundation was reporting a record number of wishes for a winning Cubs season, but all Jim Hendry could do was look a 10-year-old with lupus in the eye and shrug.”

“But it wasn’t until a particularly tearful viewing of Jumanji that Hendry got an idea… an idea that would turn his organization on its head!”

Get me Bonnie Hunt!” he yelled into a telephone.  “If she can handle giant spiders, Robin Williams, and monkeys dressed up as police officers on motorcycles… she can handle the Cubs.”

“Walt Disney pictures presents, this summer, the Cubs are finally… In The Hunt.

“Starring John Goodman as Jim Hendry and Locke from “Lost” as Mike Quade.”

6.  Ozzie Guillen

Last seen:  On a list below “Bonnie Hunt,” which blows no matter what the list is regarding.

"“I can manage anyone.”  –Ozzie Guillen"


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