Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011Posted: 12:45 p.m. Updated: 5:30 p.m.
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Mike Quade presented himself as someone who likes to take a moment. Hed scan the rooftops, soak in the scene and reflect on the long journey that brought him here.
But as reporters poked around on Wednesday for quotes to use in their obituaries for this lost season, the Cubs manager wouldnt play along with the line of questioning. Quade refused to get sentimental and admit that this could be his final game at Wrigley Field.
Dont think about it. Dont believe it. Lets play ball, Quade said. Im going to be back. Why would I look at it any other way?
The calculus certainly changed when Jim Hendry got fired. The people who work with Quade watched the press conference. They noticed that chairman Tom Ricketts didnt endorse the coaching staff the way he did others in the front office, saying those decisions would be up to the next general manager.
A new administration is about to come into power at Clark and Addison. That executive will be free to hire his own manager.
Nothing I can do about that, Quade said. I dont see any reason to look at it any other way. Im not going to wax nostalgic. I plan to be back. And I plan to do a good job next year.
Quade hasnt spoken with Ricketts about his job status yet, though the chairman was spotted in the clubhouse walking toward the managers office after Wednesdays 7-1 victory over the Brewers.
If they make a decision in a different direction, so be it, Quade said.
Quade is eternally optimistic. Thats how he beat the long odds and rose to this position. Thats why he says things like Im not a lunatic and announces that the Cubs are still in the playoff hunt, even when theyre 18 games under .500.
It seems hard to believe that less than a year ago Quade rode the momentum of a 24-13 finish and landed his dream job. A baseball lifer who spent so much time in the shadows suddenly became the story.
The Prospect High School graduate had moved all over the world to advance his career, coaching 19 seasons in the minors and managing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
This time, Quade was given pieces that didnt quite fit together, aging veterans who were getting paid for past performance and young players who didnt show the progress the organization promised.
The Cubs have played hard and maintained a sense of professionalism through a difficult season. But the public perception of Quades authority seemed to erode on July 9, when Ryan Dempster got into a shouting match with his manager in the dugout.
All this came at a time when the Cubs were trying to cycle off bad contracts and frame their next window of opportunity. They have too many tickets to sell to publicly call it a bridge year. But they also didnt think that theyd lose around 90 games and finish in fifth place again.
I look at this as a variety of things, Quade said. No one escapes blame and you understand that. But I also look at it as a realist and try and think about the things that I could or couldnt control.
The Cubs couldnt overcome the injuries to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner during the first week of the season. There went 40 percent of a rotation that didnt live up to expectations. What was supposed to be a shutdown bullpen has blown 23 saves.
Quade also promised to drive home fundamentals, insisting that the Cubs would play the game the right way. They woke up on Wednesday leading the majors with 128 errors.
Thats one disappointment, Quade said. But it wasnt for lack (of) concentration or emphasis on it from the beginning of spring training. So you go back to the drawing board and you look at (why).
Thats the most frustrating thing. If its something that we neglected, then, yeah, the hell with me. When youre working on it and talking about it every day. What else can we say or do?
Those are the kinds of questions the next general manager will be asking.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.