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By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) The St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 World Series Champions, widely-respected organization by many, and keepers of a fan base that idolizes balloon animals in the lineup, have been granted permission by the Philadelphia Phillies to speak to Phillies Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg.
If it shakes out and Sandberg is Tony LaRussa’s replacement, O. Henry himself will awake from the dead to give baseball a fist pound. Many Cubs fans, however, will be the ones rolling over in their graves, whether they be literal ones or tombs of baseball futility.
There is a psychological makeup here in Chicago of being unable to cut the umbilical cord of our sports figures. Michael Jordan as a Washington Wizard tore out many hearts. Mike Ditka as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints caused many a fan to go all 40 Year Old Virgin on their mustaches, and some morons even converted to the Creole way.
Chicagoans do not like their sports children to marry outside of the faith. I expect similar reactions should Sandberg—the face of the Cub franchise for about fifteen years and a Hall of Famer to boot—be named Cardinals manager, perhaps even more so since he a) was not granted an interview for the vacant spot on the Northside, and b) it’s the friggin’ Cardinals of all teams.
And there is a very good chance he could be donning the Redbird cap next summer. His name comes up with every open managerial spot of late, and many around the game speak very high of his potential to be a winning coach.
I say fine. Have him, St. Louis. Hell, I hope he is captaining the Busch boat next season. And I am a long-suffering Cub fan.
While fans run to light torches and take their Ritalin, let me say that I have no ill feelings toward Sandberg. He seems like a genuinely… well, genuine person. Nobody I know who personally knows the guy has had a bad word to speak of him. I am also well aware of the possibility that he could be the game’s next great skipper. That again, though, is just a possibility.
Sandberg has no experience coaching, let alone managing, on the big league level. It is quite the different animal than riding the bus with kids in the minors. Presiding over egos and guys with contracts worth more than he made in his career is not something he has had to do yet, nor is dealing with media that actually, you know, ask questions and take a guy to task (no offense, Peoria and Lehigh Valley scribes).
The question should be begged as to why Philly is letting him talk to the Cardinals, too. The organization speaks highly of Sandberg, but they did not tell St. Louis to take a hike. Professional courtesy? Perhaps. But other teams have said hands off to speaking to their personnel under contract before. Many believe Sandberg is being groomed to replace the aging Weeble that is Charlie Manuel, but that will not be so if the Cardinals offer the job this off-season.
Another reason that Sandberg joining the Red State is something I’m rooting for is to get this Cubs fan base concerned strictly with the Cubs and their vision of moving forward. The Cardinals are the competition, of course, but you have to mow your own lawn first before worrying about your neighbor’s.
Most of all, though, I’m pushing for this out of spite, my contempt for the idiot Cubs fan. That fan who honors the past, a past full of nothingness, a wasteland of baseball sorrows. That fan who clamors for statues and retired numbers and superficial awards and honors for players who were mere deck chairs on the bumbling blue Titanic. That fan who believes having played in an organization merits consideration for affecting that organization from the other side.
I want the Epstein iceberg to tear through that culture, that mentality, that soft skull, and sink it to the ocean floor of baseball lore. Museums are for the past, not the present. This team is no longer a museum.
Would it be odd to see Sandberg all in red? I guess, somewhat. But it was odd to see Jordan in a Wizards jersey, until I saw much worse he had gotten since his Bulls days. Ditto in the Bobcats owner’s box. And I got over Ditka in black and gold when I realized he was driving an entire franchise beneath the ground. Could the same happen with St. Louis Sandberg?
He may do great things as a manager. I hope he does, as he seems like a nice enough guy who has put in his time. Forgive me if I trust a guy who brought two championships to another franchise that suffered through a drought. If he helps the Cardinals to a championship, I will offer my congrats.
But letting go of ol’ Ryno will be good for the collective Cub fan psyche. Shucks, let him make Sammy Sosa co-hitting coach, too, for all I care.
I’ve moved on from the inglorious glory days and those who contributed to them. You, Cub fan, should as well.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.