Quades audition was a smashing success

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Quades audition was a smashing success

Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
4:50 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON Mike Quade still remembers the nights they sold beer for a quarter at an old stadium in Charleston, S.C., to lure in students from The Citadel. The rowdy fans would be hanging over the railings.

Quade cant forget the 14-hour bus rides, and a back wheel falling off somewhere between Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, leaving his players stranded. He couldnt read the newspapers in the Dominican Republic, but knew they were ripping him when his winter ball team got off to a slow start.

It took Quade 17 years and 2,378 games as a manager in the minors to get to this point. He won a Caribbean World Series in between and had to wait until almost the end of his seventh season as a major-league coach before receiving the phone call from Jim Hendry.

Quade had no idea why he was summoned to the general managers office on Aug. 21. He wasnt aware of how deep Lou Piniellas family issues ran in Tampa, Fla.

Two days later, a man who had only 215 career at-bats above the Class-A level would be replacing a potential Hall of Fame manager (Piniella) and bypassing a bench coach with borderline Cooperstown credentials (Alan Trammell).

On Sunday night, Quade flew back to Chicago after a 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. By any measure, his 37-game audition was a smashing success. The 53-year-old baseball lifer returns as the leading candidate to be the Cubs manager in 2011.

The Mount Prospect native will spend a few days packing up and visiting with his family in the suburbs. By the end of the week, he plans to be waist-deep in saltwater fishing off the Gulf coast of Florida. He likes his chances with Hendry and the Ricketts family.

I believed that I was capable and ready to get an opportunity to do this at this level. But believing it and proving it to yourself are two different things, Quade said. Its no different from (the players). They have great minor-league careers (but) now (youve) got to do it here.

I still wanted to find out myself if (the) way I do things (was) going to resonate with this group of guys.

Quade gave the players a clearer sense of when they would be playing and how they would be used. No longer would they keep circling back to that empty space on the clubhouse wall, waiting for the lineup to be posted. The rookies in the bullpen could relax a little bit and trust their stuff.

I dont think its a secret that everybody in the clubhouse (would) really like to see Quade get the job, catcher Koyie Hill said. Hes been through it all. (He) related to everybody.

Ive never seen a manager or a coach get everything out of every single player. Veteran guys, rookie guys, bench players, starters, relievers he brought it out of everybody.

Hendry appreciates that Quade didnt manage every night like it was Game 7 of the World Series. And the results were still there. The 75-87 Cubs finished with a strong 24-13 push, winning eight of 12 series. They had won 11 of their 40 series under Piniella.

We always knew what type of baseball guy Mike was, Hendry said. A lot of people were surprised when we named him the manager for the rest of the season and hes certainly done nothing but enhance his situation.

Weve won probably more games than any of us would have expected. The young players certainly developed at the rate that we needed them to going forward. (The) clubhouse responded extremely well to Mike, so for me to sit here and be critical in any way would be wrong.

On purpose Hendry never labeled Quade as an interim manager. Quade says he wont change if he gets the job next season. These past six weeks hes thought often about where hes been and at the end he quoted the Grateful Dead.

I dont get real nostalgic, Quade said. How does that song go? What a strange trip its been? For my year to end this way whod have thunk it?

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

Plenty of Cubs fans surely were star-struck to meet Addison Russell at Cubs Convention last weekend. But the 22-year-old All-Star shortstop has a shortlist of people he would be amazed to meet, too. 

Russell reveres President Barack Obama, on Friday the outgoing Commander-in-Chief's work in the community when talking about getting to visit the White House. So on Monday, Russell got to check off meeting one of the people on his list. "There's probably about three people that I would be star-struck by, and (Obama's) one of them," Russell said. 

One of those three spots is "open," Russell said. The other member of that list is former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. 

Russell wears his No. 27 because of George, who wore that number during his career in which he made four Pro Bowls and rushed for over 10,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. Prior to the 2016 season, George sent Russell and autographed Titans helmet inscribed with good luck message.

After the season, Russell said George texted him seeing if the newly-crowned champion had time to chill. Few things rattled Russell last year — he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series when he blasted one in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians last November — but getting a text from George did. "I couldn't text back," Russell said. "It was nuts. I waited four days because I was thinking of what back to say."

Even the most famous athletes still get star-struck. Russell's been lucky enough in the last few months to meet and hear from two of the people who bring out that sense of awe in him. "Just to come in contact with people like that, it just makes me smile," Russell said. "It definitely gets me in the mood of getting better, and that's the goal this year, is getting better."