Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
WASHINGTON Sometime after the teams United Airlines charter left BaltimoreWashington International Airport on Wednesday nightThursday morning, Mike Quade hoped that he could take a deep breath and reflect on everything that had happened.
On Saturday night the Mount Prospect native stared out his window after being told he would become the 51st manager in Cubs franchise history.
The 53-year-old had never played in a major-league game, much less managed one, and he would be replacing Lou Piniella, who has a strong argument that he belongs in Cooperstown, N.Y. As Monday night bled into Tuesday morning, Quade couldnt fall asleep after the first big-league victory of his career.
You want to take a moment just to reflect on things, he said. Not just about last night, but how long the roads been, blah, blah, blah. So you do that and then Im looking at the clock its 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 (a.m.).
The fast-talking Quade managed 2,378 games at the minor-league level, but none of those decisions would be dissected the next day on Chicagos sports-radio stations.
Well play our tails off for him the rest of the way, Ryan Dempster said. Hes probably been waiting his whole life to do (this).
On Wednesday night at Nationals Park, Quade told Dempster that he was finished after seven innings. Dempster felt like he had total command of his fastball, and he had thrown only 79 pitches in a scoreless game he clearly didnt want to leave.
If that was a risk, it paid off when pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin drew a walk on four pitches and stole second. Colvin scored when Starlin Castro lined a double into left field and the Cubs finished off a sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 4-0 victory.
You can do what you want decision-wise, but the guys have to execute and pick you up and win (it), and thats what they did, Quade said. I couldnt live with myself if were tied in the eighth and I dont try to do something to win the game.
After Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano hit their 20th and 21st home runs of the season respectively, Dempster (12-8) had earned the victory. The right-hander had thrown at least 89 pitches in each of his previous 26 starts this season, and this one was shaping up to perhaps be his best two hits, eight strikeouts, one walk in seven innings.
Thats his decision as a manager and I stand by that as a player, Dempster said. Ill do whatever the manager tells me to do. So do I want to come out of the game? Of course I dont. He knows that. Everybody knows that. (But) way too many positive things came out of today to worry about that.
Dempster was asked about the differences with Quade running the show and gave a deadpan answer: We won three in a row. Hes undefeated.
That might have something to do with the 53-74 Nationals. The Cubs (54-74) won seven of their 20 games in 20 days, a brutal stretch that finally ended Wednesday night in Washington.
During that time, they played for three managers and against five legitimate pennant contenders Cincinnati, San Francisco, St. Louis, San Diego and Atlanta. Carlos Silva underwent heart surgery and Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot were traded. Piniella took a leave of absence, came back and fought back the tears after his final game in a uniform.
Never before has Quade looked forward to a day off in Cincinnati this much. He wont need to request a wake-up call for Thursday morning. But the surprise has worn off, and hes focused on the job.
Im past that, Quade said. Look, I like managing. I loved it in A-ball and I loved it in Double-A. (The) guys have made it a lot of fun for me by playing well, but the game will humble you.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.