On Friday there was news away from Wrigley Field that grabbed the attention of Cubs fans all over. The Philadelphia Phillies fired long time manager Charlie Manuel and he was immediately replaced by North Side fan favorite Ryne Sandberg. Ryno had been serving as the third base coach under Manuel. The Major League coaching job was a step up from managing the Phillies Triple A affiliate the last couple of seasons. Sandberg’s official title is interim manager, but there is already talk that the job is his to loose with Manuel’s contract having been set to expire at the end of the 2013 season, fired or not.
Of course Cubs fans are well aware of Ryno’s desire to manage a big league club. The Hall of Famer humbled himself to the role of minor league manager in 2007 under the Jim Hendry era, hoping to earn his dues to one day man the top step of the home dugout at Wrigley. He toiled in the Cubs system through the 2010 season, gradually making his way up like a prospect dreaming of making it to The Show. At every stop Sandberg led successful teams, boosting his resume from just a big name Hall of Famer that bled Cubbie blue to a respectable manager with some track record.
But when the job opened up after Lou Piniella’s departure and it was instead handed to Mike Quade, Sandberg knew that it was time to seek his first MLB managerial job elsewhere. Hence his arrival back in Philadelphia, the organization that drafted and gave him his big league debut.
At the time, the decision to not hire Sandberg was a hot topic for Cubs nation. How could the Cubs have shunned a team legend? One who’s retired number hangs from a foul pole? Sandberg was a winning minor league coach that knew what winning would mean to a fan base that is being to lose count of the 100 plus years since the organization has won a World Series. Unfortunately for the All Star second baseman and his loyal fans, Quade’s minor league manager lifer resume and short term success as interim manager gave the elder Quade the job over Sandberg.
When Theo Epstein and Company were tasked with finding a manager prior to 2012 after releasing Quade, their interest in Sandberg seemed obligatory at best. The now Philadelphia manager did not make the final short list and of course the job was won by current Cub manager Dale Sveum.
Now that Sandberg has the interim reigns of a struggling Phillies club, the attention of Cubs fans will once again turn to their former son. Fair to Epstein and Jed Hoyer or not, North Sider fans will be keeping an eye on Sandberg’s success on the East Coast. Two months of non contention does not guarantee a good manager, as was seen with Quade. But any shred of positive results in Philly will surely spark the movement of Ryno for Cubs manager again.
We will leave that discussion for another day and post, but for the rest of this month and into September, Cubs fans may be doing a different form of scoreboard watching even though the North Siders are far from contending for a 2013 playoff bid.