By Dan Bernstein–
I’m rooting like hell for Mike Quade to succeed in his new, unlikely job as Cubs’ manager.
(I have no idea if he’s going to be any good at it)
It’s a great story when a middle-aged, longtime minor-league lifer gets a chance to skipper a high-profile MLB club. As we’ve said before, he’s especially welcome after the angry, bullheaded Dusty Baker and the stammering, semiretired Lou Piniella, who seemed blindsided by attention and criticism.
(There’s a reason why some baseball guys stay in the minors for years. They’re considered lightweights, lacking the gravitas to command a clubhouse full of multi-millionaire egos)
Quade seems to be comfortable with who he is and what he needs to do. He answers questions honestly and completely, seeming to enjoy the aspect of his job that provides the most direct interaction with fans.
(Loquacious managers and coaches in big cities often get burned by saying something they shouldn’t, or having something innocuous unfairly misrepresented. The ensuing blowback leaves them wary and distrustful, relying on clichés and banalities)
Players like Quade. Unlike Piniella, he posts his lineups one day in advance, letting guys know beforehand about a scheduled off day.
(Being liked is not necessarily a good thing. Kids like substitute teachers, too. Being respected matters more, and that comes from a delicate, complicated process over time, not just by making life easy. And players like to know about those off days so they can stay out late drinking. Good luck relying on some of them if needed unexpectedly for a day game)
He’s actually shown he can do the job, and well. He managed a previously-aimless Cubs team to a 24-13 record after he took over as interim manager last year, getting solid performances out of both unknown call-ups and revitalized vets. He even handled Carlos Zambrano upon his return from happy lessons.
(That’s too small a sample of games, and not really applicable. Market observers refer to that kind of uptick as a relief rally, or a dead-cat bounce – not reliable data to inform big decisions on future investments. It is no indication of how this year’s team may respond.)
He’s cool. He listens to Led Zeppelin, drives a broken-down truck, and doesn’t seem to have an ego.
(Led Zeppelin is still “cool?” A 54-year-old man should like them, since they were in their heyday when he was in high school and college. What music is he supposed to have on in his office? Chuck Mangione? Enya? Gregorian chanting? And get a car deal. And good managers have egos.)
After nearly a decade of bluster, swagger and drama, it’s refreshing to see that the guy in charge of the Cubs is a regular person. Everything becomes more likeable when the face of the team is devoid of the negatives his predecessors brought with their outsized reputations.
(He’s here because it’s a rebuilding year, even if nobody’s willing to say it. Quade is the inexpensive caretaker until they can get out from under some bad contracts, and then figure out a way to justify keeping the payroll as high as it is. He carries no negatives because at this point, he’s still a cipher.)
Here’s an opening-day good luck wish to a seemingly good guy who finally got a break.
(That blue hat does things to people. Beware.)
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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