Cubs

Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson

247258.jpg

Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson

Monday, Aug. 30, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The brand is so powerful that Andre Dawson has been recognized by Cubs fans in Japan and Hong Kong. Around the world, people are wondering who their next manager will be.

Thats part of what makes the job so attractive. Every candidate dreams about running from the top step of the dugout to the pile of players celebrating on the infield grass. He will be remembered forever as the manager who guided the Cubs to their first World Series title in more than a century.

The front office is trying to define what sort of leader that man should be. Ryne Sandberg has shown that hes willing to ride buses, eat peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and break a sweat throwing batting practice.

With a search that could last into November, fans and reporters alike are curious for any detail. Sandberg played with Dawson for six seasons and lobbied for him to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Im still kind of amazed that he wants to do it at this level, Dawson said Monday. Its different at the minor-league level when youre doing more evaluating. Youre working with the kids and youre trying to get them to the next level.

Here its just egos, attitude, business and youre under the microscope a little bit more. Ryno (was) a little bit more laid-back, quiet. Maybe theres a different animal now thats trying to surface.

Last month, Dawson joined Sandberg in Cooperstown, N.Y., and for that induction, he was honored during a pregame ceremony at Wrigley Field, which was largely empty on Monday night when The Hawk walked in from the right-field gate.

The fans in the bleachers once poured beer on Dawson when he played for the Montreal Expos, but he again credited them for the second act of his career. His knees ravaged after 11 seasons of playing on the artificial turf at Olympic Stadium, he needed to play on natural grass.

Insulted when the Expos asked him to take a 200,000 pay cut, he offered a blank contract to the Cubs and Atlanta Braves. He doesnt know how long he would have lasted in baseball without the surge of energy he experienced playing in Chicago. His numbers 438 home runs, 2,774 hits, eight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star appearances would almost certainly look different.

It might take the Cubs telling Joe Girardi to draw up his own contract to lure him out of New York and the empire the Yankees have built.

Sandberg took a risk when he decided to leave his comfortable post-playing existence and start out managing at Class-A Peoria in 2007 before working his way up the organizational ladder to Triple-A Iowa.

Youd never know (hes a Hall of Famer), Iowa outfielder Sam Fuld said. He doesnt just rest on his laurels. If you saw his work ethic, youd think he was a guy who never played above A-ball.

Mike Quades high point as a professional player came at Double-A Buffalo in 1981, and on Monday night, the Mount Prospect native managed his first game at Wrigley Field. Even as a third-base coach, Quade always tried to take a moment each day to look at the rooftops and all the scenery and appreciate his surroundings.

That the Cubs chose Quade when Lou Piniella decided to step down last week does not necessarily signal a lack of faith in Sandberg. Iowa is trying to make a playoff push, and imagine the media circus if a Cubs legend just showed up in the clubhouse one afternoon.

How will Quades record after this 37-game audition be judged?

I hope that the overall picture is taken into account, Quade said. Im sure wins and losses will be a part of it. To what extent? Thats for the people that are evaluating me to (decide).

Ironically, Quade used to have Sandbergs job in Iowa, and he is wearing No. 8, just like Dawson did during his MVP season in 1987. Dawson thinks Sandberg can handle this, but knows that he wont be viewed the same if he becomes the 52nd Cubs manager in franchise history.

There are going to be certain expectations, Dawson said. Its a tough situation to put yourself in because youre used to success. Youre used to being put on a pedestal. (With) your accomplishments, your achievements, theres always been a lot of hype.

Now youre in a different situation where (youre) trying to get players to perform at a certain level. (And) if you cant do that, youll know right away whether youre cut out for it.

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

Albert Almora Jr. knows he doesn't need to sell the Cubs to 'cousin' Manny Machado

Albert Almora Jr. knows he doesn't need to sell the Cubs to 'cousin' Manny Machado

Albert Almora Jr. has known Manny Machado all his life.

They're so close, they call each other "cousins", refer to the other's parents as "aunt" and "uncle" and Almora was a groomsman in Machado's wedding.

So with all these rumors about the Cubs potentially being the frontrunner to trade for Machado this summer, should we start referring to Almora-Machado as the better potential bromance in Chicago over Bryant-Harper?

The Cubs would have to acquire Machado in a trade this summer, but they undoubtedly wouldn't do that unless they thought they could sell him on staying here long-term when he reaches free agency after the 2018 season.

But Almora doesn't think he or the Cubs need to sell anything to Machado.

"That's the great thing about this organization," Almora said. "There's nothing that needs to be said. Guys want to play for us because we're the team to be and we have a lot of fun here. We have a great group of guys."

The Cubs have put together a heck of a resume in recent years, to the point where one reporter asked Kris Bryant if they're almost at the New England Patriots level of success.

That's taking things a few steps too far given the Cubs have won just one championship. But they have made it to the National League Championship Series three years in a row, they lead baseball in regular season wins since the start of the 2015 season and they have arguably the best young core in baseball.

It wouldn't have to take much convincing to want to join the same lineup as Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez and others while playing for a manager (Joe Maddon) that has no rules as long as you hustle down the line and a front office that is among the best in baseball at accomodating players' families and off-field lives.

Oh yeah, and then there's the whole Wrigley Field effect and a fanbase that is as national and passionate as they come.

Almora insists he doesn't talk to his "cousin" about coming to the Cubs and maintained he loves the current roster and has said all year they have a special team.

That being said, Almora did concede to how awesome it would be if he and Machado could win the World Series someday on the same team.

They used to dream up that situation in their backyards as kids and when Almora got a ring with the Cubs in 2016, he jokingly rubbed it in Machado's face as they worked out together in Miami.

"We used to play a game," Almora said. "I used to throw him a basketball. He used to hit it with a wood bat and we'd put scenarios in my backyard — World Series and stuff like that. 

"But obviously we never sat down and talked about it seriously as kids. Now that we're adults, that would be special."

Machado is clearly in the discussion as one of the very best players in baseball while Almora is just now earning everyday playing time. But the Cubs centerfielder wouldn't concede to the fact that his bestie was better than him as children.

"Between Manny and myself? He was older than I am," Almora said, smiling. "I don't know, I'm not gonna say he was better than me."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Get ready for an onslaught of Sammy Sosa homers and highlights coming nearly every day over the next month-plus.

After a slow start to his historic 1998 season, Sosa really started heating up in late May. He sent his 9th ball into the bleachers on May 22, beginning a run of 25 longballs in roughly five weeks of action leading up to June 30.

Sosa's 9th homer actually came off Greg Maddux, a solo shot with two outs to give the Cubs an early lead in Atlanta. Chicago reliever Bob Patterson wound up blowing the game wide open late as the Cubs stumbled to an 8-2 loss.

Maddux, meanwhile, tossed 8 stellar innings, allowing only 5 hits and 2 runs - including the 440-foot homer to Sosa.

Fun fact: The Braves leadoff hitter that day was none other than current NBC Sports Chicago baseball analyst Ozzie Guillen, who was in the midst of his first season in the big leagues not in a White Sox uniform.

Fun fact No. 2: Atlanta's No. 2 hitter in the game was Keith Lockhart, who is now a scout in the Cubs organization.