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.

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

The Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, and you can catch all the cation on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks vs. Robert Stephenson

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World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant didn’t need to pose for a Crate & Barrel billboard in Wrigleyville or walk a goat around a Bed Bath & Beyond commercial shoot. Cub fans just kept sending him free stuff.

The wedding gifts actually shipped to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where he honed the swing that landed him on a new Sports Illustrated cover that asked: “How Perfect is Kris Bryant?”   

This happens when you mention your registries on a late-night show with another Vegas guy (Jimmy Kimmel) after leading an iconic franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years.        

So Bryant will be the center of attention in Sin City this weekend when the Cubs play two split-squad games against the Cincinnati Reds. But that spotlight will pretty much follow the National League’s reigning MVP wherever he goes. 

At least this gives Bryant a chance to chill at the pool and organize the house he moved into in January. 

“My mom just kept throwing stuff in my car: ‘Here, take it!’” Bryant said. “Opening all those boxes, I can’t believe how many presents we got from fans. It was unbelievable. Jess is going to have to write all the thank-you notes. I’m just signing my name on them. You have literally like 700 thank-you notes to write.

“I said: ‘You need to just go get the generic thank-you.’ She’s like: ‘No, they took the time out of their day to buy us a present.’ This is going to take her the whole year. So if there’s anybody out there that’s waiting for one…”    

The wait is finally over for generations of Cub fans. Spring training will always have a “Groundhog Day” element to it. But this camp – with no major injuries so far or real roster intrigue or truly wacky stunts – has felt different. As the players get ready for a new season – one without 1908 looming over everything – they can’t escape what they did. 

“Every day something reminds me of it,” said Kyle Hendricks, who will start Saturday in Las Vegas. “Even going to throw in these spring games, when they announce your name and the whole crowd erupts because of the World Series. That wasn’t happening last year. 

“Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention, so it’s still getting used to that part.”  

The Cubs insist there won’t be a hangover effect in 2017, believing that this young group is too talented and too focused to get derailed by distractions and overconfidence. But the Cubs could go 0-162 this season and Bryant would still probably be breaking down boxes for recycling.   

“It’s funny,” Bryant said. “We just put cameras on my house for security and I’ll just look at it sometimes. I’ll randomly see my mom just unloading boxes. I’m like: ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are we getting more stuff?’ She’s like: ‘Yeah, we keep getting more boxes.’”