Ryne Sandberg needs to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs. I don't care about, nor do I take seriously, the rumors that Lou is going to leave his post or get run out of town. This might be Lou's last year. It might not. This isn't about Lou. There is simply no better baseball man than Ryne Sandberg. He has the potential to transform the culture, not only of the Chicago Cubs, but of the game of baseball in general.
Sandberg's Hall of Fame speech is easily one of the top 5 speeches of my lifetime (right up there with Bono's speech honoring Frank Sinatra at the Grammy's). I recommend reading it and bookmarking it for any time you need to resurrect your hope in the Cubs, baseball, and all of humanity. There are so many perfectly poignant points in his speech, but I want to draw attention to this one in particular, because it gives you a glimpse of how things would change from day one with Ryno at the helm:
When we went home every winter, they warned us not lift heavy weights because they didn't want us to lose flexibility. They wanted us to be baseball players, not only home run hitters. I played high school football at 185 pounds and played big league baseball at 182. I'd get up to maybe 188 in the off season because every summer I'd lose eight to ten pounds. In my day, if a guy came to spring training 20 pounds heavier than what he left, he was considered out of shape and was probably in trouble. He'd be under a microscope and the first time he couldn't beat out a base hit or missed a fly ball, he was probably shipped out. These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third, it's disrespectful to them, to you, and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up. Respect.I want that man coaching my Cubs. All of baseball needs that man in the game, in the big leagues. Would that kind of approach sell tickets? Ask the New York Yankees how professionalism as a brand is working for them. I'm telling you, the Cubs need Ryne Sandberg not because Lou is doing a bad job but because Ryno represents the most exciting qualities a team could ever want in a manager.Ryno embodies everything good about the Chicago Cubs and renounces all that is bad about the franchise.
And just imagine being a baseball fan in a city with Ryno managing the North Siders and Ozzie managing the South. How perfectly iconic would that be? Ryno with his straight-laced intensity, Ozzie with his no-holds-barred passion . . . the thought is giving me shivers.
As a player, Ryno was the quietest. As a manager, Ryno is nothing but. He was just ejected in Game 1 of the Southern League Championships (and in three years of minor league managing, Ryno's teams are always in the championships . . . go figure). Ryno knew what his role was as a player, and that was to do his job, show respect, lead by example, keep his mouth shut, and kick ass. As a manager, he knows his role: he leads by example, respects the game, speaks with passion, and kicks ass.
Where do I sign to bring him back to Wrigley?