Those of you in the work force may be familiar with corporate politics from personal experience. Others who have watched “Office Space” or the tv show “The Office” have witnessed a humorous spin on corporate politics. When those two words are uttered together in a sentence, there is more times than not a negative connotation to it. Examples can range from brown nosing management to try to look better than your peers to managers taking credit for work done by solely by their subordinates. Regardless of whether the company is big or small, these politics are dealt with. And over the past couple weeks, we have seen this concept play out over the Cubs managerial position.
The hiring of Mike Quade as the new Cubs manager is old news by now. But the debate amongst Cubs fans as to whether he should have been hired over Ryne Sandberg continues to have divided opinions. And just within the past couple days, it has been reported by multiple media sources that Sandberg has been offered the Phillies Triple A job. This is the same Sandberg who within days of the Quade announcement had turned down the opportunity to return as the Cubs Triple A manager.
Most of us are familiar with the background history. When the Cubs job was open back before the 2007 season, Sandberg let it be known that he was interested at the opportunity. After all, Ozzie Guillen only two seasons ago had taken his beloved White Sox to a World Series title. Sandberg, like all Cubs legends over the decades, had spent their careers without being able to bring the elusive World Series championship to the North Side. What a picture perfect story it would be for him to lead what would end up being a veteran ballclub to this historical achievement.
But what Sandberg lacked was even the coaching experience Guillen had on his brief resume. And with a veteran roster, Jim Hendry went with a veteran manager in Lou Piniella. Ryno instead was offered the opportunity to possibly earn his way to the top job one day. And so he took his Hall of Fame name and started out his managerial career in single A for the Cubs.
Fast forward to the present off season. After putting in his dues for four years in the Cubs minor league system, not to mention successful seasons at that, he watched as another coaching lifer in Quade, was handed the job over him.
To be fair to Hendry, at least publically, he had never promised the Wrigley Field office to Sandberg if Ryno were to make his way up the corporate ladder. But on the flip side, Sandberg not only followed the instructions of management in terms of gaining experience, he had led his minor league teams to successful seasons while also helping to develop and teach the young talent, some of which we got to see with our own eyes at Wrigley this past season.
Quade did make his mark during the trial period he was given as interim manager near the end of the 2010 season. He does have the lifelong resume in actual coaching that surpasses Sandberg’s. And he reportedly has the backing of the players he led in the dugout during the end of season surge the Cubs had. But there is more to the story than we may ever know. Corporate politics. After spending the last four years in the shadow of a Hall of Fame manager named Piniella, Hendry probably wanted a manager that he could control and have in his shadow considering his own butt was now on the hot seat. If Hendry is going to go out, he is going to want to go out having tried to win his way and not someone else’s way. There is some belief that the signings of players like Milton Bradley were a direct result of Piniella’s public comments on what the team was lacking after the playoff busts in 2007 and 2008. And when things went from bad to worse the following two seasons, there were implied comments that Piniella was not able to do much with what was a faulty roster, the molding of which is the responsibility of the General Manager.
After this experience, there was no way Hendry was going to put himself in Ryno’s shadow. Quade has been reported to be a Hendry favorite and one that will toe the company line. Then you factor in some opinions that Hendry didn’t think Sandberg would call his bluff on a stint in the minors as a manager, and you begin to wonder if Ryno ever honestly had a chance of reaching the Major League job under the Cubs.
Even if Sandberg does not accept the Phillies Triple A job, the rumor alone speaks loud and clear that there was some miscommunication between Hendry and Ryno regarding the job on the North Side. We may never know all the details of the behind the scenes, but if the Cub legend lands a Major League post elsewhere, we will definitely see in the next couple years as to whether Hendry made the right call or not. But one thing is certain. Sandberg won’t be coming back to the Cubs any time soon with Hendry as the GM. And if the Cubs continue their struggles of recent seasons, we may still yet see Sandberg return to his beloved Cubs and write the picture perfect ending, just under a new GM of course.