Cubs

Mooney: Who is Mike Quade?

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Mooney: Who is Mike Quade?

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010
7:06 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Jim Hendry recruited the Chicago area and the Creighton University head coach had a deal with Wilson Sporting Goods. One baseball clinic took him to Prospect High School and there he noticed a photo in the trophy case.

Hendry asked himself the same question Cubs fans would pose decades later: Whos the bald dude?

That teenager frozen in the picture was a natural leader, the three-sport athlete who played quarterback, point guard and shortstop.

This was the 1980s and Hendry didnt immediately realize that he had already watched Mike Quade at the University of New Orleans. Quade was teammates with two men Hendry got to know years earlier through the Cape Cod League, and remains close to even to this day.

Paul Mainieri would encourage Jeff Samardzija to play baseball in college and help convince the Cubs to draft the football All-American before leaving Notre Dame to become the head coach at Louisiana State University.

Randy Bush would win two World Series rings with the Minnesota Twins before joining the Cubs front office and rising to assistant general manager. Bush would be influential in reaching the agreement finalized this week and hiring the 51st manager in Cubs history.

Quade isnt a legacy or a superstar, but hes well-connected and you can be certain that others were rooting hard for him to get this job, to give credibility to the work they do in the minor leagues and maybe, slightly increase the odds that someone else might get a shot like this.

Mikes a terrific baseball guy and the reason people didnt put him on a higher level publicly is because he doesnt promote himself, Hendry said. Over time, the way the games changed (with) the Internet, the blogs, word of mouth and people doing favors Mike Quade did it the old-fashioned way.

Quade will look you in the eye and tell you what he thinks and for that Miguel Tejada is grateful. When Tejada lacked concentration in 1997, Quade benched him for a few games at Double-A Huntsville, the same tactic the manager used with Starlin Castro.

This young shortstop from the Dominican Republic would grow into a six-time All-Star and the American Leagues Most Valuable Player in 2002.

Hes a gentleman, Tejada said last month. Sometimes you dont have to play in the big leagues to be a good manager (if) youre a smart person and you respect the game.

Quade embraced the challenge of taking over a Cubs team that had lost 20 of its previous 25 games and a clubhouse that one player described as dead. From Aug. 23 on, that group won 24 of the final 37.

As manager, Quade was upgraded to a hotel suite on the road, but still threw batting practice, something hed like to continue doing next season, as long as his arm holds up. That is what chairman Tom Ricketts wanted the hands-on coaching Quade once did in Scranton, Pa., and West Michigan.

Its hard enough when you got a wife and two kids in your household, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said. Hes got 25 kids that hes got to take care of. Especially in a city where we havent won in so long, thats a lot to take on, but when it comes down to being prepared to be on the field, hes as good as anybody.

Quade gets that we have to sell newspapers and drive ratings and isnt afraid to say what everyone else already knows. Castro drifts in and out of focus. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are getting older in a game thats not getting any easier. You cant explain Carlos Zambrano and his moods or his performance.

Heading into Year 103, Quade is aware of the pressures and how the game has evolved since 1908. Even millionaires want to know what theyre supposed to do when they show up to the office.

Im honest, straightforward, Quade said. (You) rarely dont know what I mean. It doesnt mean you like it. It doesnt mean things always work. But at least you know where Im coming from. You can respect that.

Quade is a fisherman who thinks you should eat what you catch out of the Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise, it seems like a waste. Hes earned a good paycheck in Chicago, but still hadnt made that one huge financial score.

Moneyball was being reported while Quade was with the Oakland As. He couldnt believe it when he heard that the film adaptation of the best-selling book cast an actor with hair as the first-base coach. Alopecia areata caused this look. At the age of 53, he knows who he is.

Four years ago, the Triple-A Iowa manager interviewed for the job that went to Lou Piniella. The Cubs and Piniella were a foregone conclusion within the industry, but Hendry got the potential Hall of Fame manager to accept a new third-base coach. The reaction to the promotion was unforgettable.

God bless Mike Quade, Hendry said. I told him he was going to be on the big-league staff. He wanted to know why he wasnt considered stronger for the managers position.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Fantasy Baseball in Math Class? Maddon Offers Unique Perspective On How MLB Can Grow

Fantasy Baseball in Math Class? Maddon Offers Unique Perspective On How MLB Can Grow

You’ve seen the tweets - the ones that take TV ratings from big baseball games and throw them next to a random Warriors game from late March, just to make a point. It’s not a groundbreaking narrative: baseball’s struggle to retain younger fans continues. According to some of the latest Nielsen Ratings research, MLB ranks 2nd among the four major sports when it comes to drawing interest from the 18-24 age group. On the surface, not so bad. And while the “Baseball Is Dying” argument is a heavy-handed one, it’s not hard to see that the NBA is quickly gaining ground - especially among the younger generations. 

“The NBA is definitely attracting a younger audience, there’s no question about that,” Joe Maddon said. “The fact that there’s the glitz and the color and the speed -- I don’t even know what the allure is, quite frankly. I don’t know. I think the spotlight on it and the way it’s promoted appeals to the younger generation.”

Maddon was quick to defend the length of the game, saying he didn’t think the two were correlated at all. (For what it’s worth, a 2018 study revealed that the average NBA game lasted 2:13, while the current average run time of a MLB game this year is at 3:06.) Instead, Maddon pointed to how the NBA’s stars are marketed. 

“I do agree in the sense that I think we could do a better job promoting our players, no question,” he said. “I would not disagree with that. We have so many interesting stories to tell among our groups and I don’t think the fans - the young fans- really get to know that possibly as well as they know NBA players. Even in the NFL, I don’t think you know those players - plus they wear helmets so you can’t see their face. All that stuff matters.” 

Much of the issue lies in MLB’s approach to digital media. There are restrictive (bordering on archaic) rules in place about the use of their footage on all the various social media platforms, and their official website makes searching for video highlights a chore. Contrast that with the NBA, whose Twitter presence has quite literally become its own subculture. Here’s what commissioner Adam Silver had to say on the subject back in 2018:

"We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube's software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they're still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings"

For his part, Maddon tries to find time to skype into different school classes as often as he can. That face-to-face interaction is something he feels MLB lacks. 

“ When you can connect faces and voices, even though it was through technology, you will be attached,” he said. “I can’t even imagine me growing up having that opportunity. I can’t even imagine that, how I would have taken to that. I don’t think we utilize technology well enough to connect with young kids. To me, that’s the more practical and important way to get them involved with and wanting to be baseball fans.” 

A more off-the-wall idea Maddon threw out was incorporating fantasy baseball into school curriculum. Math classes could offer a gentle approach into the world of analytics, and teachers could give students roles as GMs, Ass. GMs, and scouts of their own teams. 

“They don’t have to play the game, it’s not about playing the game,” he said. “This NBA group you’re talking about, the ones that love the NBA, they’re not there to play the game, they’re there to watch the game. And the enjoy all the components of it. 

“You’re not necessarily needing to attract people who play the game, as much as people who are interested in the game. We do have the most intellectually stimulating game of all, by far. So teach them the game. It doesn’t have to happen more quickly, they just have to understand it better.” 

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Before Thursday’s game against the Phillies, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon was asked if, given the current state of their bullpen, Tyler Chatwood could see some innings as the closer. 

“I think he’s amenable to it...” Maddon responded. “... the big thing with him is throwing strikes. If he does that -- his stuff is that electric -- we’ll use him any time. As he gets well from [throwing 4 innings on Wednesday night] it’ll probably a solid two days, maybe three, before he’s ready to go again. We’ll see - we’ll see that night needs. I’m not afraid of it by any means.

“I would say that the first time he got a chance with us, it would be because the other guys aren’t available that night.”

48 hours later, with the Cubs white knuckling a two-run lead, it was Chatwood coming out of the ‘pen in the top of the 9th. Two singles, a double-play, and a Yasiel Puig flyout later, Chatwood had closed out one of the Cubs’ more unconventional wins of the season, a 8-6 nail-biter that featured a little bit of everything.  

“It was a little bit [surprising],” Chatwood said. “But I kept myself ready. I was able to get loose in the pen and luckily I got that double play right there, and we won. So it’s good.” 

On a day when the Cubs’ cobbled together their pitching performance, it was Yu Darvish’s 7 innings -- the first time he’s gotten that deep into a game since 2017 -- that kept Chicago in punching distance. The line itself isn’t particularly flattering; six runs on 12 hits is an eyesore. His performance may not have played well on Cubs Twitter, but those inside the clubhouse could not stop talking about it. 

“That was huge. I thought he was really good today,” Albert Almora, who already surpassed his 2018 home run total (5) with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, said. “I didn’t think he was going to come back out, so I said ‘good job’ to him in the 7th. I saw him back out in the 8th and was like ‘all right, he wanted it.’” 

“It looked like he emptied the tank against Puig in the 7th with a big strikeout,” Chatwood added. “But he still went back out there and battled and pitched into the 8th. That’s huge. We didn’t have many people available today, and I think he knew that. I thought that was one of the best games he’s thrown the ball.”

Darvish managed to strand eight base runners, though, and only walked two. He’s now gone three straight games while walking three batters or less, something he’d failed to do at any point prior. 

“I knew that the bullpen was going through a little struggle, and didn’t have much rest,” Darvish said. “So my main goal was to go more than 7 innings today.” 

On a warm day, with the wind blowing straight out at 16 miles per hour, Wrigley played as small as it has all year. The Cubs (and the Reds, for that matter) went deep three times, which brings their homestand total to 11. 

“The wind was a friend to both sides today,” Maddon said. “But really, you’ve got to give Yu a ton of credit for getting deeply into the game today. He still had his good stuff in the end. The stuff was still there, but it’s 107 pitches, and it’s just deflating when all that happens.” 

Not to be outdone by the guy who started the game or the guy who finished it, recently-called up pitcher Dylan Maples was the winning pitcher of record. He and Tim Collins came in from Triple-A Iowa that morning, and Maddon wasted no time throwing Maples into the fire. After walking his first batter, Maples got Reds’ rookie Nick Senzel to strikeout on a 91mph fastball to end the 8th. 

If it hasn't seemed easy of late, that's because it hasn't been. Of the Cubs’ first 50 games, 16 have been decided by one run (9-7). Over their last 12 games, eight have been decided by two or less runs. 

“They seem to all be like that,” Maddon said with a laugh. “Especially recently. We’re seeing a lot of good pitching. 

“That’s entertainment, guys. Woah.”