Quade acts like he doesnt feel the heat


Quade acts like he doesnt feel the heat

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011Posted: 12:45 p.m. Updated: 5:30 p.m.

By PatrickMooney
CSNChicago.com CubsInsider Follow @CSNMooney
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.

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Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Why are the Cubs so confident? Remember, this offense scored 808 runs during the regular season, more than every NL team except for the Colorado Rockies. This lineup knocked out October legend Madison Bumgarner after five innings in the divisional round (though pitcher Jake Arrieta delivered the three-run homer in a game the San Francisco Giants would win in extra innings). 

The Cubs should at least have a better idea of what to expect after getting that up-close view during a 1-0 loss in Game 2, the end of a 10-day period where the Dodgers used Kershaw for three starts and a division-series save against the Washington Nationals.  

Ben Zobrist – a veteran of 11 postseason series – explained: “His heater – as straight as it is – (comes from) the deception of his funky windup. You think you’re there, and it’s right above your barrel.”

“We’ll all be ready to go,” All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Any time you see a guy back-to-back, it’s always to our advantage as hitters. We just have to go out there and play our game and have good at-bats off a left-handed pitcher. 

“I know it’s Clayton Kershaw, but we really got to just focus in on having good at-bats.” 

The Dodgers still have to beat a leading Cy Young contender (Kyle Hendricks) and last year’s award winner (Arrieta) on back-to-back nights in a building that will be shaking if the Cubs take an early lead with a Kris Bryant home run. And until this October, Kershaw had a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs.

“We got to battle,” Bryant said. “We know Kershaw likes to keep his pitch count down, because he wants to pitch the whole game. He’s a competitor, so we got to find a way to work counts and not swing at the pitches that he wants us to.

“Any time you got the best in the game going at you, it’s a challenge. And it’s going to be fun.” 

That’s exactly how the Cubs have approached everything this year, with an Embrace-The-Target attitude and all this Flair for the dramatic. 

“To be the best, you got to beat the best,” Rizzo said.