Wisch: Something’s Just Missing At Wrigley – Is It Ryno?

By Dave Wischnowsky–

CHICAGO (CBS) On Tuesday night, while Derrick Rose was misfiring at the end of regulation in Miami, Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster – fresh off an 11-1 victory over the Mets – plopped himself down in the interview room at Wrigley Field and told the pack of assembled reporters, “not a fan in Chicago cares what I have to say right now.”

He was right, of course.

But, judging by the woeful attendance turnouts at the, um, Friendless Confines this season, it’s not just the Cubs’ postgame pressers that aren’t finding an audience this season. It’s their performances, period.

And you can’t blame the Bulls for that every night.

Fact is, with a record of 21-26 after Wednesday night’s rain-shortened loss to New York, the 2011 Cubs are painfully mediocre. But perhaps even worse than that, they’re painfully dull.

This Cubs team has no compelling personalities on the field. And it doesn’t it have any in the dugout, either. (Actually, without Ron Santo, it has fewer in the broadcast booth, too.)

And, so, as this season sluggishly unfolds, I can’t help but wonder if Cubs fans wouldn’t be more interested in these (Less) Lovable Losers if HOFer Ryne Sandberg was managing the team instead of ho-hum Mike Quade.

I know I would be.

Last fall, the Ricketts family surprised – and disappointed – me when they opted to hand the Cubs’ managerial reins to Mike Quade instead of Sandberg following Lou Piniella’s retirement. I had a difficult time understanding how Quade guiding the team to a 24-13 record in 37 meaningless games down the stretch outweighed what Sandberg had accomplished in three strong seasons as a manager in the Cubs’ minor league system.

And I still don’t get it.

In case you’re wondering, Sandberg’s Lehigh Valley IronPigs – the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies that Ryno latched on with – were swept in a doubleheader on Tuesday night.

That pair of setbacks dropped their record 27-18 (.600) and cut their lead over Scranton and Pawtucket to three games. Not bad, huh?

Now, that’s not to say the Cubs would be doing much (or any) better this season with Sandberg calling the shots (the roster is still flawed). Although, who knows. He’s proven he can manage. But I do believe that they wouldn’t be doing any worse with Ryno on the bench.

At the same time, I’m not laying all the blame for this season’s ever-so-lackluster start – both on the field and at the turnstiles – on Quade (again, that roster). I don’t dislike the guy. It’s just that I don’t think he’s exactly helping the Cubs’ cause much, either.
I certainly know he’s not causing me to watch him.

I do think though that even with this same Cubs roster, I’d be much more engaged in the team if Sandberg was its manager. Even if he were heading up a struggling team, I’d still like to see how the franchise icon handled himself – and handled game situations.
Instead, Mike Quade’s Cubs often just have me handling the remote to switch channels. And when it’s only May and I just can’t get into the Cubs, then you know something’s really wrong.

After all, back in 2003, I was the guy who would often drive 90 miles from my apartment in Ottawa, Ill., to Wrigley Field to catch a Cubs game.

After work.

On a weeknight.

For a standing-room only ticket.

On Tuesday, though, I had to will myself just to walk the six blocks to Wrigley from where I now live – and I ended up bolting to a bar after the fifth inning to watch the second half of Bulls-Heat.

Now, if Ryne Sandberg was the manager?

Well, I would have at least stayed until the sixth.

I’m kidding. But I am dead serious when I say that if the Cubs want to halt this precipitous slide down Chicago’s totem pole of sports popularity, they need a serious injection of talent, excitement …

And personality.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Somethings Just Missing At Wrigley – Is It Ryno?

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.

  • Larry Horse's Arse


    Ryno had all the “personality” of a blank sheet of paper.

    Great player, cheered for him, was my son’s favorite player in childhood, but his personality was a zilch.

    • bronzo

      yeah I like this guy seems pretty solid. i’ve tried to check out LOHO too but you never know if or when he is going to post and most of his observations are pretty obvious. I like him on the radio but as a blogger… MEH.

      I do hope danny boy does return, like him or not he sure made it interesting.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I’m not a huge fan of LoHo on the radio, but his professional skill is talking, broadcasting.
        Wisch is a writer.
        He really has serious skills as a writer.
        He can organize his thoughts and express them gracefully and with style.
        This blog leaves LoHo’s trailing in the dust.

    • bronzo

      Larry…good to see you back…btw i agree Ryno has and had almost zero personality.

      Did you catch the 1st hour of B&B yesterday? UGH they were on a mission to be a$$holes .they had jason send through every idiot caller they could find so B&B could pick them apart regarding the Bulls / Heat and Rose / James comparisions.

      • Dave Wischnowsky

        And now that I’m not traveling like a madman –10 out-of-state trips in the past 12 weeks! — I certainly hope to be writing with more regularity. As always, appreciate your comments and interaction on here, Arse.

        And, Bronzo, good to see you comment here, too. The more, the merrier .. or, perhaps, the messier, depending on the topic. Haha.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Great to see you too, bronzo.

        No I have not yet caugfht up to the B&B pod (if it is even available) from yesterday.

        Wisch is now the only Score blogger worth reading regularly…guy is solid, smart, insightful, analytical, and knows his stuff.

        So this is about the only blog you’ll see me on with any regularity…unless Dan-o comes back from his “sabbatical.”

  • djwoody

    It’ll take more than a manager to turn this disaster of a franchise around. Hurry up and figure it out Cubs, I’m not getting any younger!

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Neither am I. Neither am I …

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    I think Ryno has changed, though, Arse. He’s become a spitfire in the minors and much more outspoken (see his HOF induction speech). I’m not so interested in Ryno’s press conferences, but seeing his personality as a manager and how he handles a team would give me a more compelling reason to watch this year’s Cubs.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Thanks Dave.
    Yes, I do remember the HOF speech well….and that was a classy way for Ryno to use his prestige to call for a reinstitution of the integrity of the game.
    Ryno said more than BudLight ever has for real.

    I was unaware that he has become a spitfire of a Manager.
    Really, I was just aware of his progression through the Cubs system and that he is now managing the Phillies AAA team (oh, the irony…his original team).

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      It’s shocking, but Sandberg gets ejected from games all the time now –including just a couple weeks ago with the IronPigs. He’s about the last guy I would have ever expected to see that from, but he’s a different guy as a manager than he was as a player.

      Back then, you’re right, he was as dry as cardboard. I still don’t think he’s a quote machine, but I do think he’s evolved into a much more interesting individual these days. Beyond all that, he’d give the organization a face and a true “personality,” something that right now it’s sorely lacking.

      Along with plenty else :)

  • Periodic Thoughts

    …so you are saying Ryno’s 3 seasons in the minors was better experience than Quade’s 15+ seasons and 1,000+ wins in the minors and 7 years as a bench coach in the majors?
    Go to the hospital, I think you are stroking out.

    • bronzo

      or maybe Rynos’ 15 year HOF career has something to do with it.

      • Dave Wischnowsky

        I just find it amusing how some people criticize Sandberg because he didn’t have this long minor league managing career that Quade had.

        And why didn’t he?

        Well, because as Bronzo pointed out, he was busy having a Hall of Fame PLAYING career. And I’m guessing that Sandberg probably learned at least a little something about the sport during his days actually playing it. Beyond that, some people seem so quick to dismiss the success that Sandberg has had in his now 3+ years of managing. Why? I really don’t know. And, honestly, if Quade was such a sure-fire MLB skipper, then why had he never risen about third-base coach at the Major League level before last summer?

        Again, this isn’t to rip Quade. I know he knows baseball, but I think Sandberg does too. And Sandberg, quite simply, is also a more compelling managerial figure for an organization that needs something compelling. I’d rather see how he performs than how Quade does. And I’d also argue that who’s to say that the Cubs wouldn’t have done just as well if Sandberg – or even bench coach Alan Trammel – had been given the reins for the remainder of the 2010 season instead of Quade.

        I’m of the school of thought that perhaps a burned-out Lou Piniella was the Cubs’ problem last year, more than Mike Quade was the answer with the 24-13 run down the stretch.

        It’s hardly Sandberg’s fault that he didn’t get the opportunity to “audition” as the Cubs manager last season. And, I think he proved himself well enough the previous three years as a minor league manager to merit the nod over Quade.

        Sandberg, in my opinion, got a raw deal. And I think, in turn, Cubs fans got a less interesting one.

      • bronzo

        Of course not …but sure doesnt’ hurt …in fact in Ryno’s case I think it actually does. And this is coming from a devout Sox fan….

        like the sarcasim though…

      • Periodic Thoughts

        Good point…all the best baseball managers in the game today had long Hall Of Fame playing careers. It’s definitely the best way to judge how good a manager will be.

      • Periodic Thoughts

        Neither should be criticized for their past experience.

        Wischnowsky said:
        “I had a difficult time understanding how Quade guiding the team to a 24-13 record in 37 meaningless games down the stretch outweighed what Sandberg had accomplished in three strong seasons as a manager in the Cubs’ minor league system.”

        Which gives the impression that he thinks Quade was judged a better choice only due to his 37 major league games compared to a guy who has three strong seasons managing in the minors – and ignoring Quade’s strong minor league managing experience.

        I’m still fuzzy about Sandberg getting a “raw deal”. It seems like he felt he was entitled to the job, and then after the job was given to Quade, he expected the team to have to ask him to continue to manage the I-Cubs. Except that he was already the manager and they never told him he would be replaced in Iowa. It seems like he left the organization because he felt slighted – and I’m not sure he was (except for not getting the promotion he applied for).

      • Dave Wischnowsky

        I think Sandberg did everything that the Cubs asked of him the past three years to earn his stripes and prove his chops, and that he had earned his shot after Lou stepped down. You’re certainly entitled to disagree. Clearly, Jim Hendry didn’t see it the same way I did, either.

        Again, I doubt the Cubs would be much better this season with Sandberg at the helm, but I certainly don’t think they’d be any worse either. And I’d simply be more interested in how this mediocre collection of players is faring day to day if Sandberg was pushing the buttons rather than Quade. That’s my argument/question today. I respect if others don’t feel the same way, but that’s the way I do feel.

        Who knows, maybe Quade will get this team rolling at some point. It’s still early. But, to me, it looks like a .500 ballclub — and has since Day 1 (no fault of Quade, that’s on Hendry). I’m pretty sure, though, that Ryno could manage it to a .500 record, too. Quade isn’t some baseball wizard. He knows his baseball, but I think No. 23 does, too.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Totally unrelated, but a story I thought to share.
    If you are on LinkedIn, from time to time LinkedIn will give you a list of other members that you might know…usually based on links in common.
    Last night I got such a list of maybe a hundred possible people with whom I might link, and my blood ran cold when some of my South Bend links yielded a possible link with a guy in the food business in South Florida: Dave Duerson.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Eesh. That is a little creepy. Such is the nature of the Internet, though, I suppose. People might pass away, but that doesn’t mean they also disappear from the Web.

    • bronzo

      that’s kind of creepy Larry…

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        It really was.
        In his bio, the only “employment” he mentioned were his years with the Bears and his then-current company. Nothing else about his background except his education at ND.

        This was the third time I have been invited to link with someone I already knew was deceased.

        May he rest in peace, and may his brain contribute to better health for football players in the future.

        Didn’t mean to hijack the thread.

  • Gus

    I haven’t followed Ryno’s minor-league managerial career, but I would just hate to see his name mangled by the long-term train wreck that is the Chicago Cubs.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      The Cubs need a change in the GM slot, as well, I believe.

      • PeriodicThoughts


      • bronzo

        See, we all agreee on something…Dave I enjoyed blogging with you guys today. Would love to talk White Sox basebal on here some time soon. I ‘m a life long Southsider ( Beverly) so you know where my loyalties lie. Hopefully the Sox can start to hit like they should and make a run at the Indians.

      • Dave Wischnowsky

        Ditto, Bronzo. And I’m sure I’ll be writing something about the White Sox at some point in the near future — once Chicago fully transitions into baseball season, and leaves hoops behind (hopefully that doesn’t happen tonight).

        It is early, so I wouldn’t count any team out of the race just yet. Well, maybe Minnesota at 16-32 — but I think White Sox fans have learned to never take a Twins team too lightly. :)

  • Jim

    People were always willing to pay high prices to watch a losing Cubs team. Lose,lose,lose, higher,higher prices, there was no limit. The organization new it and got away with it because it was stylish to go see the Cubs. Now with the economy not recovering, and people really hurting, the limits have materialized and no one is going. Who ever the manager is, it will not make any difference. No one cares.
    Save your money professional athletics while your still getting the ridiculous salaries. Professional sports is not that important and the sports writers are even less important.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Ha. Jim, I really won’t disagree with you on many of your points. Most of them, really (in particular those regarding the Cubs and their ticket pricing).

      However, sports can provide a distraction to the struggles with the economy — and it would be nice if teams adjusted their ticket pricing to (hopefully) better fit people’s current budgets and allow them that opportunity — IF the team is compelling enough to want to invest yourself in.

      I also do have to chuckle about how you’re on a sports blog commenting about how sports writing isn’t important. I’m not to say that it is (in the grand scheme of things it’s down the list), but I do love the irony. Appreciate you weighing in.

  • paulh

    having dealt with the prima donna’S (his old lady is not a nice person) at Wrigley, where everyone has to stop what they’re doing to accomodate them, I say good riddance. He had me fooled for a while too. Quade is the right guy at the right time for this job. the cubs are probably a 5 games above .500 team. it’s still early, they’ll get sqared away and play better. Quade is a darned good baseball man – give him some time before trying to get him fired.

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