Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted: 4:19 p.m. Updated 6:07 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
Mike Quade took the Red Line to work on Friday morning, another blue-collar grinder getting off at the Addison stop. The Cubs manager doesnt drive a fancy car or get escorted around by a limousine.
Its a fitting image for a guy who managed 17 seasons in the minors and the perfect cover for a group of millionaires the city seems slow to embrace on Opening Day.
People want to win here, Quade said. People want effort. They want a club that comes out and plays hard and earns their money. I think theyre going to get that right out of the chute. Lets hope the results follow.
Last summer, Quade took over a team that looked like it might be heading toward 100 losses. Fans had tuned out by then and theyre not sure what to make of that 24-13 finish. The manager grew up in Chicagos northwest suburbs and understands all the demands and expectations.
Out of uniform, with his head down and a hat on, the 51st manager in Cubs history can walk unrecognized through Wrigleyville. Maybe it can become a new drinking game in the bars around the stadium: Wheres Q?
Its kind of fun to get on the train and come to the ballpark and walk to Wrigley incognito to feel the excitement, Quade said. Im pretty good. Hey, look, with a face like this, you can put makeup on. You can do all sorts of stuff. I can put wigs on. I can do anything I want.
I cant help (but) try to get the flavor of the ballpark and the neighborhood, especially on a day like this.
Quade has been staying downtown this week but will eventually move back into a Lakeview apartment and walk to work most days.
Its hard to imagine Lou Piniella or Ryne Sandberg adding money to their CTA card and waiting on the platform. But the Cubs have moved away from the celebrity manager. Theyre committed to Quade, who has a two-year contract that includes a club option for 2013.
Quades a special cat, chairman Tom Ricketts said. The players really respect him. He communicates well. Hes engaged, hes energetic I think he has what it takes to get this team winning and keep us there until the end of the season.
When Quade got to the office on Friday morning, he made several phone calls to family and friends. The 54-year-old stays in shape, talks really fast and runs around the field.
That makes Quade seem younger than he actually is and almost makes you forget how long it took him to get this chance, the nights in Huntsville, Ala., and Harrisburg, Pa.
I thought about places Ive been and people that Ive worked for, Quade said. None of us get to where were at without help from a lot of good people. In spite of the craziness around here, I thought it was good to take a moment.
I cant call everybody, because if I did, I would miss the game, and maybe tomorrows.
Right hand on his heart, Quade stood front and center on the third-base line during the national anthem, and then it was on to the nine innings he usually finds so relaxing.
It will be fascinating to see how Quade responds to the public nature of this job, if hell get worn down or learn to love the spotlight.
After a 6-3 loss to the Pirates, the manager was asked if hell need a new disguise for the El ride back downtown: I got Pittsburgh gear.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.